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Highway 1 East ASP Tabled

The Public Hearing for the proposed Highway 1 East Area Structure Plan (ASP) to discuss future growth along the corridor was held this week.

The ASP includes approximately ±1,560 hectares (±3,855 acres) of land in southeast Rocky View County and is located immediately south of Highway 1 and the Canadian National rail line. The western ASP boundary adjoins Highway 791, while to the east it borders the municipal boundary with Wheatland County.  The overall development intent for the ASP is to provide for a range of industrial uses along Highway 1, with a focus on agriculture-related industries. The ASP also contemplates commercial land uses towards the western edge of the ASP and protection and infill of existing fragmented country residential areas.

The overall development intent for the ASP is to create an agri-business hub for the Calgary Region that provides a unique mix of agri-business related land uses, supportive commercial and industrial uses, agriculture food production, temporary agricultural land conservation, rural residential uses, and conservation of major wetland systems.

County administration had concerns over the feasibility and efficiency of the proposed potable water and stormwater servicing solutions. Administration recommended refusal of the application. Council voted instead to table it and ordered the developer, Steve Grande of Terradigm Developments to further collaborate with the neighboring municipalities of Chestermere, Wheatland County, and Strathmore, and to come up with a funding formula for the ASP.

Urban Municipalities Quash Rocky View MDP and ASPs

Led by Calgary, the urban municipalities at the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB) ganged up on Rocky View and voted down the new Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and North and South Springbank Area Structure Plans (ASP’s). This, despite the fact the CMRB Board administration and an outside consultant had approved the plans stating that they meet all the criteria necessary for sound planning. The decision was purely political as we have warned about from the day this anti-investment, unnecessary 4th layer of government was created. Our Executive Director Bruce McAllister wrote the following article on the issue. Please read and share with your networks. The link is below: 

Politics Chasing Jobs and Investment from Calgary Region

Even if you knew it was coming, a kick in the teeth is still a kick in the teeth and that’s exactly what rural Albertans in the Calgary Region got last week, courtesy of the central planning monstrosity known as the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB).

By all measures, it is not too harsh to call this Board a monstrosity. Made up of ten municipalities in the Calgary Region and mandated by the Rachel Notley’s NDP to control land-use decisions and dictate investment for the area, the CMRB was set up under the guise of ensuring responsible development. That’s the mandate, however, creating a voting structure that guarantees the urbans vote down the rurals is anything but responsible. The Board is not about sound regional planning, it’s all about political protectionism and this was blatantly evident around the table last week.

At stake was the County of Rocky View’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and the Area Structure Plans (ASPs) for North and South Springbank. Calgary’s neighbours had a thoughtful path forward for their municipality and their economy. The plans were grounded in solid planning principles, and they were approved by the Board administration and an outside and unbiased consultant. They paved the way for tens of billions of dollars in investment to the region over the next several decades with countless jobs, communities, and family amenities in the works from several investors and developers. But the urban municipalities hate any good idea that could be theirs for the taking. They have a super majority voting structure around the table, and this allows them to vote down anything that smells like competition on the other side of their fence. So, led by Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, they voted Rocky View’s plans down, and just like that, years of planning and millions of dollars in studies including countless hours of community consultation was shot down by the big city, central planning protectionists. Do you see what they did there?

This is a bad precedent for Alberta and a terrible signal to outside investment that Alberta is not open for business. That landowners and municipalities can go through the entire planning process, following all the laws, spending hundreds of thousands of dollars planning projects in their own backyard only to have the selfish politicians and bureaucrats from other municipalities look over the fence and kibosh any plan that did not come from them. It is anti-free-enterprise, and anti-Albertan. 

Property rights just took a solid blow and rural landowners across Alberta should be ready to ask some pretty direct questions of their governments. If it can happen in the Calgary Region, what’s to stop this central planning philosophy from spreading to other regions: Grande Prairie, Lethbridge, Red Deer, and Medicine Hat. If you have a plan for growth and investment outside the urban municipality in today’s Alberta, forget it. Big brother next door will nix your plans thereby eliminating any competition from the marketplace.

This is the kind of anti-free enterprise, red tape machination that the UCP promised to eliminate, but so far it seems that politics and the louder voices of the urban mayors and bureaucrats are still freely wielding their vetos over everyone else’s land while they continue to gladly spend Alberta tax dollars on themselves.

The UCP will have to make a decision on this Board in the fall. They have been handed a growth plan for the region by the Board that they need to deal with. The rurals on the Board all voted against it of course, but that doesn’t matter as they are consistently outvoted 7-3 by the “super majority” of the urbans. One must wonder if the UCP are waiting for the municipal election to play out, and a change in the big chair at Calgary City Hall before dealing with this Board. They may face less blow back and criticism once Mayor Nenshi is gone. 

Kicking the can down the road on this one is not wise, however. This should be an easy decision. The Board should be promptly shut down and each duly elected municipal government should have the right to plan for their own future under the laws of our province. That is exactly what former Premier Ralph Klein did with this central planning model in 1995. He knew a thing or two about free enterprise and wasn’t afraid to take criticism to do what is right. He got rid of the central planning, anti-competitive planning commissions and the Alberta Advantage came roaring to life.

Premier Klein did it because it was the right thing to do. He chose principle over politics. Will the UCP show the same courage? Albertans should expect nothing less.

Rocky View Council will not be meeting in the month of August. July 27th was the last meeting until September 7th when Council meetings resume.   And a reminder that our Rocky View 2020 meetings will resume in September as well. Details to come. Enjoy the rest of the summer and don’t hesitate to send us a note if you wish to reach us. We are always here.


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