Rocky View Council will give citizens another opportunity to comment on the proposed County Plan when the Public Hearing into the much-criticized document continues July 23.
The decision to keep the Public Hearing open to allow more people to comment was taken after a long first day of the session held Tuesday June 25, when at least 36 people speaking on behalf of themselves, neighbours, companies and organizations made presentations to council.
Due to people being affected by flooding in the region, Council led by Reeve Rolly Ashdown felt it only fair to allow more opportunity for comment about the critically important, and much criticized Plan, which will guide all future development in the County for the next 10 to 12 years. People will also be allowed to continue to send in their comments in letters and emails. Council has already received more than 100 pages of letters, most of which recommend changes to the Plan.
Presentations from a variety of stakeholders were poignant
Requests for changes continued in the Public Hearing with only a handful of people saying Council should adopt the County Plan as is. Especially poignant were presentations from ranchers and farmers, who were very worried that the Plan basically sterilizes the value of their land, which has decreased significantly in value due to County development policies. Using charts from Alberta Agriculture, one said that Rocky View Council agricultural land used to be worth approximately double the value of agricultural land across the province and now it is only worth about half. Another said the current valuation of his family’s multi-generational farm is between one-third and one-half less than it was six years ago.
A presentation by the Urban Development Institute using figures from an independent consultant also showed housing prices and new development in decline. This is the opposite of what is happening in the northwest region of Calgary and counter to Alberta’s booming future.
Others talked about well-planned communities that offer a full range of amenities, including different styles of housing separate from the traditional two-and four-acre plots that are no longer of appeal to a broader demographic that includes young families and seniors. Environmentally progressive compact communities were outlined as lacking in the Plan.
Lack of flexibility
A key focus of the comments was the lack of flexibility and innovation in the Plan, and the many restrictions that will like have a negative impact on the County’s fiscal sustainability. Of special concern to many was the Plan’s limiting growth in the next 10 to 12 years to a maximum of 2.5 to 3 per cent of the regional population increase. This is down from the six per cent that Council established in 2009 when the Growth Management Strategy 2060 was adopted after extensive research and public consultation.
After the Public Hearing is completed, Council is expected to review suggested amendments to determine which ones have their initial support. Administration will then be asked to prepare potential change, draft wording and their recommendations regarding the changes.
No date has been set for Second and Third Reading, before the County Plan.
Second note for the June 25 Date pullout.
Rocky View 2020 would like to thank everyone who has become engaged in the review of the County Plan. It affects quality of life, the services the County can afford to provide, and your taxes. We encourage you to lean more and comment at the Public Hearing or in letters.