Our Year in Review
Wednesday, December 18, 2019
Message from Reeve Greg Boehlke
As we come to the close of 2019, it’s time to take a look back at the success we’ve seen as a municipality over the past year. There is a long list of accomplishments that have been completed and new initiatives we’ve started that showcase the economic health and vitality of Rocky View County.
We are a model of financial sustainability. We have remarkably low residential property taxes, and extremely competitive business property taxes. We contribute more jobs to the region than we have working-age residents. Our growth, both in residential and commercial/business development, is well planned and steady. The combined assessment of commercial and residential properties has placed Rocky View County as number FIVE in the province, behind only Calgary, Edmonton, Wood Buffalo/Fort McMurray, and Strathcona County/Sherwood Park.
By playing to our strengths and keeping taxes reasonable, all while maintaining a high quality of life for residents, the County is weathering Alberta’s concerning economic conditions better than almost any other municipality in the province.
Our success is the result of some forward thinking and sometimes-difficult decisions that Rocky View County Council has made over the years. It is the result of both good planning and a willingness to adapt to meet ever-changing conditions.
This past year, Council adopted a new Strategic Plan, which underpins our values of integrity, leadership, and accountability. With its focus on service excellence, financial health, and responsible growth, the Strategic Plan helps guide the decision making of Council and the work of County staff to ensure the long-term success of the municipality.
Council also voted to revisit our Municipal Development Plan to ensure that this high-level planning document meets the needs and challenges of today. We have also been looking at a Bragg Creek Hamlet Expansion Strategy, the Bearspaw and Springbank Area Structure Plans, the Conrich Future Policy Area, the Janet Area Structure Plan Review, and our County-wide Land Use Bylaw, all with the goal of ensuring the documents meet the needs of residents and businesses now and in the future.
Rocky View County is expected to grow by another 15,000 people in the next 20 years. It’s important to ensure this development is managed with the best interests of residents in mind, while working to eliminate unnecessary processes – achieving our own success in red tape reduction.
During 2019, many residents have participated in open houses and surveys about our future, and I want to thank you for your input and support. Together, we’re charting a path forward for Rocky View County that will guarantee our continued success.
Ultimately, a municipality is about its people, and we’ve taken a number of steps over the past year to maintain and enhance our quality of life in the County. We learned that the number one priority of residents is transportation.
Our low population density and large land area makes our road network a challenge to build and maintain. For example, in Calgary there are 75 people to pay for every lane-kilometer of road. In Rocky View County, only eight people fund each lane-kilometer of road, and they do so at a much lower tax rate. But we’re meeting that challenge with innovation in how we build and maintain roads, and how we keep them clear of snow and ice. And we’re spending strategically on our network. In 2019 we completed or started over $21 million worth of road-related projects throughout the County – paving, bridges, road widening, and more.
The second highest priority for Rocky Viewers is emergency services. This past year we began work on a new $9.3 million Emergency Services building for Langdon, which will house a fire hall, space for the RCMP, and potentially serve as a remote location for some municipal services. We continue to work with the RCMP on crime reduction, and the County funds three enhanced officers and a watch clerk over and above our standard provincial policing service level. In April of 2020, we will fund our first dedicated RCMP officers to serve the Langdon area.
We worked with our partners at the Canadian Red Cross, who provided a $1.4 million grant for first aid training and for community resiliency initiatives such as fire and flood assessments for homes and business. And we reached a milestone in giving over $500,000 in lifetime support to STARS Air Ambulance, which provides care and transport for the critically ill and injured. We are the only municipality to show this level of support to STARS, and we were recognized by having the County’s logo added to a new helicopter – something we should all take great pride in.
Recreation is the third priority area for residents, and there has been great movement on that front. With the average age of our residents dropping, and with people becoming more active, County Council replaced its 40-year-old Recreation Board model with a new governance model that is aimed at enhancing the County’s ability to provide residents with the recreation programs and facilities they need. In 2019, Rocky View County provided over $1.375 million in capital and operating grants to over 40 community recreation groups. In the coming years, our new approach will help ensure we get maximum value for the recreation money we invest, all while reducing red tape for our recreation partners.
As I write this message, I’m looking at a long list of some of the many other accomplishments Rocky View County has made in the past year, and it’s hard to pick out favorites. In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, we:
- waived dog license fees;
- approved four new baseball diamonds for Langdon;
- invested over $1.3 million in Family & Community Support Services, in partnership with the Province;
- finalized the land purchase needed for the Bragg Creek flood mitigation project;
- made tremendous progress on examining every Council policy to cut red tape, ensure clarity and effectiveness, and eliminate those policies that don’t add value;
- negotiated numerous inter-municipal agreements with our neighbors on everything from planning to firefighting;
- continued work on a task force looking at the long-term use and future of the Bearspaw reservoir;
- sold our old Administration Building to the City of Calgary for $13 million;
- incorporated the heavy workload of our mandatory participation in the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board regional planning group, while continuing to lobby the Province for changes to this approach to municipal planning;
- donated an end-of-service fire truck to a Mexican village, in co-operation with the Rotary Club;
- began recording and live-streaming Council Meetings to enhance access and transparency;
- hosted an open house and pancake breakfast for residents;
- and much more.
I want to thank my fellow councillors and County administration for their continued hard work and dedication. We may not always agree, but what counts is that we make the right decisions to ensure that Rocky View County remains one of the very best places to live, work, and play. I also want to thank our Chief Administrative Officer, Al Hoggan, for his leadership of County staff and his support of Council over the past year. Much of the change we’ve seen is thanks to his ability to turn Council’s vision into action.
On behalf of Council and the staff of Rocky View County, I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas, all the best in the New Year, and every happiness over the holiday season.
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