County Responds to Growth Management Board Amendments

Rocky View County has submitted its response to amended draft regulations for the Alberta government’s mandated Calgary Metropolitan Region Growth Management Board.

“The Province only allowed 14 days for public comments, and right in the heat of a municipal election. Given the impact this will have on Rocky View County, we’re very disappointed with the lack of time given for people to provide input,” says Reeve Greg Boehlke.

A lack of public consultation has plagued the Growth Management Board process from the very beginning, Boehlke says.

“At no point did the Alberta Government ask residents and property owners in the Calgary region if they wanted to see autonomy taken away from their elected councils and given to an unelected board. Municipalities near Calgary and Edmonton will see their authority and the rights of their landowners eroded, and many people have no idea it is even happening.”

Alberta Municipal Affairs released amendments to the draft regulation, which they say is intended to ensure effective and efficient regional collaboration and co-ordinated decision-making in the province’s major metropolitan regions. The amendments provide greater detail on how the Board will operate, and accelerate the development of a regional growth and servicing plan to three years instead of the initial directive of five.

“Growth Management Boards will add another layer of government, administration, and cost. These boards are a multi-million dollar solution to a problem that doesn’t really exist. We continue to have grave concerns about the approach,” Boehlke says.

Boehlke says Rocky View County’s two biggest issues involve a deeply flawed decision-making process. Decisions require two thirds of the municipalities in the region to agree to a decision, and those municipalities must have two thirds of the population in the region.

“That population requirement means the City of Calgary can veto any decision, even if all other municipalities are in favour,” Boehlke says. Similar veto power was used in the Capital Region Board (CRB) just last month. Edmonton killed a proposed plan despite support from 80 percent of the region’s municipalities, and despite the proposal exceeding the requirements of the CRB’s own regional growth and servicing plan.

The County has long maintained that each municipality should have an equal say in decision-making, particularly considering that future area growth and regional infrastructure will occur primarily in Rocky View County or on land annexed from the County.

The second of the County’s main concerns is the lack of an appeal process to the unelected Growth Management Board’s rulings. The revised regulation stipulates all decisions of the Board are final and there is no right of appeal.

“Every level of government in Canada is staunchly opposed to a similar no-appeals process that U.S. President Trump is trying to bring to the North American Free Trade Agreement. Yet the Alberta government seems to feel that removing the right to appeal a decision to an independent body is just fine for these Growth Management Boards.”

Boehlke says Rocky View County has always planned its growth in a responsible manner, and with regional co-ordination at the forefront.

“The problem lies with urban politicians who can’t – or deliberately won’t – see regional planning as something that can accommodate everyone, urban and rural alike. They have an urban focus, and to heck with anyone else. Rocky View County believes sound regional planning is inclusive. It gives all Albertans true choices in the lifestyles they can lead.”

Alberta Municipal Affairs has mandated that Rocky View County, Airdrie, Calgary, Chestermere, Cochrane, the MD of Foothills, High River, Okotoks, Strathmore, and Wheatland County will fall under the planned Calgary Metropolitan Region Growth Management Board.

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