Rocky View Council was in session this week (Tuesday, November 30th) and there were a few noteworthy discussions and developments.
Conrich Development sent back to the Drawing Board
A Public Hearing was held for the Cambridge Estates development in Conrich. The developer, AMAR Developments, was looking to have the Conrich Area Structure Plan and South Conrich Conceptual Scheme amended by Council.
Due to concerns raised by residents, the developer wanted to alter plans including adjusting for more residential and less commercial and light industrial. There was significant opposition raised to the commercial portion of the plan. Several members of the Conrich community were still not happy with the proposed changes and they showed up to present in opposition. There were several concerns raised also about traffic and a lack of parks and green space.
Administration recommended approval of the application and stated that the proposed changes were minor amendments, which are in alignment with policy and development in the area. Council did not approve the application.
Local Councillor Sunny Samra made a motion to refer it back to administration to work with the applicant and the residents to address the concerns with traffic, municipal reserves and parks, and lot sizes. The motion was approved.
Debate over Advertising in the Rocky View Weekly
A robust and healthy debate took place over whether to reinstate advertising in the Rocky View Weekly newspaper. The previous Council decided to stop the practice of advertising all Public Hearings and notices in the paper, saving the County tens of thousands of dollars. At the time of that decision, they were presented a comprehensive communications report from administration outlining the strategy to reach Rocky View residents that would include much more use of the County website. The formerly sanctioned 3 Councillors (Kissel, Hanson, Wright) all made the case for reinstating the advertising as soon as possible. Councillor Hanson pointed out that some Rocky View residents have internet challenges and therefore the newspaper advertising is helpful to them. Councillor Boehlke pushed back suggesting they shouldn’t be rushing into this decision with taxpayer dollars until they develop a comprehensive communications strategy. Mayor Kochan said he too would like to see a bigger strategy and he pointed out there are circulation consistency issues with the paper. It was estimated that the cost of annual advertising in the paper is about $80,000.00 dollars. Acting CAO Kent Robinson said it has been as high as $140,000 in some years and the reasons the previous Council voted to stop the practice were due to efficiency and cost.
In the end, the motion to reinstate the advertising was defeated 4-3 with the formerly sanctioned 3 all voting to reinstate it.
Will the Appeal vs the Sanctioned Councillors Continue
The drama and politicking that we witnessed with the last Council seems to be alive and well within this new group based on some developments this week. At the beginning of the meeting Councillor Hanson asked to add an emergent item to the agenda dealing with the ongoing appeal of the sanctions case. This was peculiar as Councillor Hanson must recuse himself from any debate on the issue as he clearly has a pecuniary interest. Well, the emergent item was added and when it came up Councillors Hanson, Kissel, and Wright did rightfully recuse themselves. That’s when the games began. Councillor Sunny Samra brought forward a motion calling for the appeal against the sanctioned 3 to continue. Councillors Schule and Boehlke voted in favour with Samra voting against his own motion along with Mayor Kochan. Therefore, the motion failed in a 2-2 vote, which was clearly the only way the sanctioned three could engineer such a result. There are questions about the legality of the motion however as there is already a motion on record with the previous Council voting to continue with the appeal. The motion, to be clear, could have called for the appeal to be dropped. That however would have failed in a 2-2 vote and so this is how the group engineered their result. By framing the motion in this way, it presents a very grey area that is certainly up for legal, much less ethical scrutiny. As for how the administration will handle it, we will have to wait and see. It could be that the sanctioned three got their wish and the appeal has been dropped. We will have to see how it plays out, but the politics of politics are alive and well in Rocky View County.
Debate Over Mayor Term Limits Kiboshed
Councillor Wright had hoped to debate a motion over the length of term for the mayor. It had been previously decided that the mayor’s term would go from 1 year to 2 to allow for more consistency and less politicking over the position. The motion was not debated as Mayor Kochan pointed out that a similar motion on this issue was discussed less than six months ago, and therefore procedurally they did not need to revisit it.
Council also took part in the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) conference last week. Attending from Rocky View were Mayor Don Kochan, Deputy Mayor Crystal Kissel, and Councillors Boehlke, Hanson, and Samra. Rocky View did not bring forward any motions.
The next Council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, December 7th and it is the only Council meeting scheduled for December. You can attend Council meetings in person, following COVID protocols, at the Rocky View administration building, or you can watch them live online. The link is provided on the County website.
Rocky View 2020