Councillor Wright reports to residents

By Samanntha Wright
Councillor, Division 8 Bearspaw

Organizational meeting 2018-2019

The Municipal Government Act mandates that a Council “must hold an organizational meeting not later than 2 weeks after the third Monday in October.”  Council held its meeting on October 23.  

Greg Boehlke will remain as Reeve, despite my nomination for Kevin Hanson. Al Schule was chosen as Deputy Reeve, beating out Jerry Gautreau and Kevin Hanson. I was hopeful that Council would make a change in its leadership to reflect the changes that will result from interim-CAO Rick McDonald’s organizational review. Unfortunately, this was not the case. This will be Boehlke’s fourth consecutive year as Reeve of the County; his second year with this Council.

Regarding the Policy and Priorities Committee, Kim McKylor will continue as Chair and I will remain Vice-Chair.  I had put my name forward for Chair but was unsuccessful. I also remain on the Policy Review Committee with Kevin Hanson and newcomers Crystal Kissel and Al Schule.  Dan Henn replaces Kevin Hanson on the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board.

On the local front, the Bearspaw/Glendale Recreation Board will remain in good hands. Suchetna Channan and Kris Reinhardt will maintain their positions on the Board for two more years.

Economic Development 2017 update report

A presentation was made to Council by Dave Kalinchuk, the County’s manager of Economic Development.  Kalinchuk cited that despite the challenging economy, Rocky View was doing well and its residential/business tax split goal of 70/30 was on track. 

Kalinchuk cited the County’s low property taxes and lack of business tax as competitive advantages over our neighbours.  He also noted that our assessment base was steadily increasing, both residentially, but more so commercially.

The report was quite lengthy, providing information on a national, provincial and municipal economic scale. However, in my opinion, it was missing some key considerations.

In order for Council to understand our direction and where/how the County should be growing, we need to have an economic plan.  I asked about where the County’s current economic development strategy stood and was advised it was currently in draft form at the staff level. Of note, the County’s last economic development strategy was released by Kalinchuk in 2003.  For a County of this size and our proximity to so many urban centres, this is not only unacceptable, it is unfathomable.

Kalinchuk stated Rocky View’s strongest sector is transportation warehousing and logistics – particularly large distribution centres that service the needs of western Canada – think CN, Walmart, Sobeys and, most recently, Amazon. As well, thanks to CrossIron Mills, retail and entertainment are also growing business sectors in the County.  While this could be considered a good news story, they are not replacing the caliber of jobs that the region has lost over the past decade.

Kalinchuk acknowledged that businesses come to Rocky View for cheaper land and/or lower taxes.  He also recognized that the employees these industries do attract do not reside in the County where the average property is valued at close to a million dollars. Instead, he stated that 90% of jobs in the above mentioned sectors are held by Calgary residents with the other 10% held primarily by Airdrie, Chestermere and other surrounding area residents.  It is good that we are providing jobs for our neighbours, but it raises a whole other topic – that of transportation and whose responsibility is it to provide it? Not only that but improved road networks and connectivity between communities.

Up until now, CrossIron Mills has been transporting its employees privately, while the city of Airdrie provides busing servicing to the area. Understandably, Amazon has expressed an interest in transportation, given the 1000 jobs it will be creating. But at whose cost? There has been little discussion of any potential solutions.

We have invested tens of millions in water/wastewater infrastructure in the east side of the County. It would be nice to see a more diversified portfolio of businesses, specifically those industries with higher paying jobs like tech and health care, come to the area.

Cochrane recently became home to Garmin’s Canadian Headquarters, how do we attract something similar, or better yet, on a larger scale? It’s difficult without a solid economic development plan. Thankfully, as part of Rick McDonald’s organizational review, this department is being expanded beyond its current staff of one. Once this occurs, perhaps the County can create a comprehensive plan that not only Rocky View residents can buy into, but that the region can, too.

Snow and ice budget

Council unanimously approved a $1.2 million budget adjustment from the tax stabilization account for snow and ice control.  Due to the severe winter we faced in early 2018 and with the snow in September/October, it was easy to understand how the County was caught with insufficient funding in this department.

Cochrane annexation sent for approval

A 159-acre quarter section to the NW of Cochrane was approved unanimously for annexation to the town.

Earlier this year, the town of Cochrane held open houses regarding the annexation and the idea was well received. The proposal will now be sent to the Province for approval.

Friends of Westbrook School capital request

Council directed Administration to send a letter to Rocky View Schools (RVS) asking them to convene the Reserves Coordinating Committee to discuss a capital funding application made to the Ranchlands Recreation Board for $100,000 to offset the cost of an expanded gymnasium design for the Westbrook School in Division 9.

RVS sent a letter to the County explaining that the larger gym space would be a benefit to the community as a whole. The gym would be available for public use during off-hours and on weekends.

Administration stated that convening the Reserves Coordinating Committee would allow for the Reserves Agreement to be updated – updates that would prove useful in assessing numerous additional applications throughout the County. The motion succeeded 8-1 with Councillor Gautreau in opposition.

Springbank redesignation approved unanimously

An application to redesignate a 5+ acre parcel in Springbank from R2 to R1 to create a 2.5-acre lot with a 3.18-acre remainder was approved unanimously.

The application was previously heard at the September 25th Council hearing but was put on hold as area Councillor Kim McKylor had requested additional information.

The north side of the property is located along the Bow river and has setbacks from the escarpment. In addition, almost 1/4 of the south side of the property is under restricted covenant and cannot be built upon. McKylor wanted to ensure there was sufficient space for 2 homes, 2 wells and 2 septic fields on the lots should they be granted redesignation.

The original application had interesting lot-lines, however, the applicant decided to rejig the lines and divide the property straight down the middle instead. Administration confirmed that despite the setbacks and the restrictive covenant there would indeed be sufficient space to build the two homes, wells and septic fields on the lots.

Bragg Creek subdivision approved 8-1

An application for the subdivision of a 2.32-acre lot with a 2.53-acre remainder in Bragg Creek was approved 8-1.  The area is identified for infill residential and the application fit within the density requirements for the area. 

The applicant had asked to have the Transportation off-site levies waived on the original parcel.  Councillor Hanson was the lone opposition.

Boehlke re-elected reeve, Schule elected deputy reeve

By Enrique Massot
The County News

The top positions in the Rocky View council have been secured by two long-standing members.

Greg Boehlke

Greg Boehlke, who has been in council since 2004, was elected by his peers as reeve for the second of the four-year term during Rocky View’s annual Organizational Meeting Oct. 23.

Boehlke, who represents Div. 6 in northeast Rocky View, was nominated for the position by Div. 4 Coun. Al Schule.

Al Schule, who was councillor and reeve in the early 2000s, was chosen as deputy reeve on a nomination of Div. 7 Coun. Daniel Henn.

Voting on secret ballot, council defeated Coun. Kevin Hanson, who was proposed for deputy reeve by Coun. Samanntha Wright. Council also outvoted Jerry Gautreau, who was deputy reeve for the first year of the term and was nominated by Div. 2 Coun. Kim McKylor.

Al Schule

Each year, Rocky View councillors elect reeve and deputy reeve from among its members. The reeve is the head of council and chairs council meetings.

Coun. McKylor was re-elected as chair of the Policy and Priorities Committee (PPC), on a nomination by Coun. Henn.

Div. 9 Coun. Crystal Kissel unsuccessfully nominated Coun. Wright for the position.

All councillors are members of the PPC, which investigates new initiatives, proposes changes to legislation, hears presentations from the public and considers infrastructure matters and provides recommendations for council’s consideration.

Council made (409) 579-6190

 

 

 

 

 

 

Div. 8 Bearspaw Councillor’s Report

By Samanntha Wright
Councillor, Div. 8 Bearspaw

Samanntha Wright

Due to the move to the new office, there was no Council meeting on Oct. 9.

Instead, on Oct. 16 there was a brief Council session followed by the new County Hall’s grand opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony included speeches by interim County Manager Rick McDonald, Reeve Greg Boehlke and MLA Cam Westhead.

This was followed by a reception for VIPs past and present and tours of the new three-story building. The building is a vast improvement over the old building and the idea of having all staff under one roof in a building that is in the County is appealing. However, I’m still not convinced it justifies or satisfies the $42 million price tag. Time will tell.

Oct. 16’s Council Meeting covered the following:

  • Report of the Interim County Manager
  • Amending Terms of Reference for Intermunicipal Committees
  • 4 Redesignation Application approved 4-3
  • Cannabis Bylaw approved

On a positive note, Mr. 905-752-7484 is great news for the County.  It’s been a long time coming and is much needed. Please see the attached OCT16COUNCILUPDATE to see what it’s all about.

Council has (260) 920-2431 Mr. Hoggan comes to us from Kneehill County (our neighbour to the East) and will start his position on Dec. 17. New beginnings and big changes all round.

It appears Fall has finally arrived, too bad we had to have winter first.  Enjoy the warmer weather!

Have a great weekend!

 

Opinion: Gravel policy fiasco raises questions

By Enrique Massot
The County News

Ditching the result of three years’ work of elected officials, administration and consultants was not only a slap in the face of residents; it was a reckless waste of taxpayers’ money.

On Sep. 25, council voted to stop working on an Aggregate Resource Plan (ARP), meaning significant taxpayers’ money invested on consultant services and staff time, as well as organizing and moderating open houses, and processing thousands of residents’ comments – has all been lost.

In a nutshell, the County proposed an ARP with 500-metre setback distances between homes and gravel operations; residents wanted 1,500 metres instead. Council then decided to scrap the whole thing – problem solved! Council will continue considering gravel extraction operations’ applications on a case-by-case basis.

The councillors’ action not only failed those who elected them; it’s contrary to the County Plan approved in 2013, which mandated the creation of an ARP. It is contrary to one of the most basic duties of any Alberta municipality, that is to provide good government.

The unprecedented decision has deprived Rocky View, without reasonable justification, of a valuable guide for industry, County and residents. The ARP was to address “site design, location criteria, visual impact, mitigation of (gravel) extraction impacts, and appropriate setbacks between extraction activities and other land uses.”

“There is a couple of key edits that need to be made, particularly around setbacks.” Coun. Kevin Hanson

This decision of a council one year on the job is concerning to County residents and particularly those living in Bearspaw, where the County has allowed significant residential development near gravel deposits that are now coveted because their short distance to Calgary reduces transportation costs.

Reeve Greg Boehlke led the charge against the ARP draft. Not afraid of hyperbole, he called the ARP initiative “one of the most divisive policies that I ever, ever dreamed would come here.”

The reeve could have explained what he meant by “divisive,” or why he called the ARP project “a disaster” and “a bomb.” He didn’t.

Under certain conditions, the setbacks Rocky View proposed in the ARP draft could be reduced to 100 metres for structures, plants and machinery, and to zero for land, berms or landscaping.

Residents happen to believe that 1,500-metre setbacks – about a mile – would provide acceptable mitigation against noise, dust, heavy traffic and other adverse impacts of gravel extraction. They made sure Rocky View knew it by submitting over 1,800 comments.

As for the gravel industry, it was quite happy with Rocky View’s ARP draft.

In a May 30 press release, Alberta Sand and Gravel Association executive director John Ashton noted “the ASGA supports the clear parameters (of Rocky View’s) ARP.”

That wouldn’t be surprising considering that Rocky View started the ARP process with Golder Associates, a consultant that is a member of the ASGA. When residents found out, Rocky View quietly sent the consultant home and a County planner was assigned to the task.

Residents diligently participated in the ARP process, as it would be expected of citizens in any democratic system. They attended public events and provided substantial feedback after the release of the first and second ARP drafts.

If, for the reeve, this means “a disaster,” then the question would be, what did he expect? Passive acceptance?

Deputy Reeve Jerry Gautreau, who made the motion to quash the ARP initiative, used lame arguments such as that the ARP draft, as written, “does not fit the whole County.”

Well: the deputy reeve probably missed the second paragraph in the ARP draft: “the ARP establishes the minimum standard (but) also provides some flexibility based on the local context.”

Coun. Al Schule chose to argue that “too much time” has been spent on the ARP, and Coun. Kim McKylor echoed his argument.

How could Schule and McKylor ignore that the County had total control of the pace at which the ARP progressed?

As it is, County delays work on policy – then County cancels policy because it has taken too long. Isn’t something wrong with this picture?

Coun. Daniel Henn cast the fifth vote in support of Gautreau’s motion without comment.

Councillors Wright, Hanson and Kissel voted in opposition. Coun. Mark Kamachi was absent.

Residents wanting more information can access Rocky View’s official recording of the Sept. 25 meeting. The ARP discussion runs half an hour, from 6:27 to 6:58.

To consult all Rocky View documentation about the work done around the ARP and the timing, click 406-979-1640

Council denies residents’ participation in gravel plan

 

Was dumping the ARP draft the only option for council?

Not at all.

Administration had submitted four different options and contrary to practice, abstained from recommending any of the alternatives.

Coun. Samanntha Wright attempted to save the ARP by proposing one of the options submitted by administration: the creation of a steering committee made up of residents, industry representatives, staff members and councillors to review the ARP draft before council considered it for adoption.

Shifting the task to a group with increased accountability could have achieved what an industry-related consultant and County staff could not.

Coun. Kevin Hanson supported the initiative, noting such a committee could rapidly finish the ARP.

“Just three months would be enough,” Hanson said. “There is a couple of key edits that need to be made, particularly around setbacks.”

Coun. Crystal Kissel also supported the initiative, which was rejected out of hand by the other five councillors.

“I just don’t agree with having citizen groups putting policy together,” Boehlke said.

Clearly, industry-related consultants are a better alternative for this council.

Opinion: Residents’ group concerned about Rocky View offsite levies

By Janet Ballantyne
Rocky View Forward

(Editor’s note) Rocky View County is updating its offsite levies on regional stormwater, water, wastewater and transportation. After holding two open houses in September, the updated levies will be ready for council’s consideration in October. The Rocky View Forward residents’ group has prepared a two-part report below about the proposed levies. Residents have time until Wednesday, Oct. 3 to submit comments on Rocky View’s proposed off-site levies. 

Comments can be emailed to Angela Paré– apare@rockyview.ca

Rocky View Forward – Sept. 11 comments

Our initial assessment of the proposed changes included:

  • The transportation off-site levy has been improved from small landowners’ perspective, but it still has serious weaknesses.
  • The water/waste water off-site levy is proposing system expansions of $120.7 million on top of the $97.0 million still needing to be recovered from levies on the existing infrastructure.  This is for systems that operates well below capacity.
  • The storm water off-site levy covers the $54.7 million to pay RVC’s share of the regional storm water drainage system on the east side of the County and is now proposing to add $91.4 million more for local stormwater management upgrades and connections to the regional drainage system.
  • Council will be given complete discretion to reduce or waive the levies.  This should be completely unacceptable.  Levy rates should be the same for everyone – friends on Council and/or a good sob story should not result in lower levy charges.

Rocky View Forward – Sept. 29 comments

We’d like to emphasize the following concerns with the proposed levy bylaws. The levies all rely on highly questionable assumptions, including:

  • Excessively long planning horizons
  • The levies assume full build out of all approved ASPs to forecast both population growth and infrastructure requirements.  At the same time, Administration acknowledges that some of these ASPs may take 100+ years to build out.
  • Inconsistent with other County planning documents
  • The 2016 residential land inventory concluded that much of the approved residential development in existing ASPs may never be built (e.g. West Balzac).  But, the levy calculations include these population numbers and the infrastructure that would be needed to support them.
  • The Bragg Creek ASP states that its population estimates are “at best unrealistic maximums.” In spite of this, the water/waste water levy assumes capacity upgrades to serve this population.
  • The Transportation Offsite Levy (TOL) relies on the “full build out” assumption to calculate the “urban” base levy.  It assumes that 60,000 acres will be developed as less than 2-acre fully-serviced parcels and that this development will cover 75 per cent of the total costs of the County-wide long-range transportation network.

At recent average construction rates of 250 houses/year in Rocky View, full development will take a minimum of 120 years.

  • TOL “urban” base rate is over three times the “rural” base rate.  This is attractive for small landowners in the short run.  But it may well provide inappropriate incentives for future development.
  • The rate differential may push development to substantially higher density subdivisions.  At least 3 – 4 upa will be “needed” to recoup the incremental levy costs.
  • These densities are not consistent with most of the County’s planning documents, including many of the approved ASPs used as the basis for the calculations.

We’d also like to flag that Administration has confirmed that the financial information in the proposed water/wastewater levy bylaw is wrong.  Corrected information is supposed to be released “shortly.” This raises unavoidable doubts about other aspects of the levy calculations and calls into question the validity of the entire documents.  Once the County has released its revised numbers, we’ll send out updated information.

The summary/assessment on 8592913997 – Click on the link in the third paragraph of the section on off-site levies to find it.

If you have any questions, please be sure to let us know.

(707) 881-3150

 

 

Rocky View nixes gravel policy project

By Enrique Massot
The County News

The council of Rocky View quashed a proposal to set up a steering committee with residents, industry members, staff and councillors to complete the County’s first policy for gravel extraction operations.

“We need to bring all those voices to the table,” said Coun. Samanntha Wright at a Sept. 25 regular meeting.

Wright’s motion also proposed a revision of the most controversial points of the County’s first Aggregate Resource Plan (ARP) draft.

Her motion was defeated in a 5-3 vote, in absence of Coun. Mark Kamachi.

Reeve Greg Boehlke strongly advocated against the residents’ proposed participation.

“I just don’t agree with having citizen groups putting policy together,” he said.

Coun. Al Schule agreed and said too much time has been spent on the policy preparation.

In support of Wright’s motion voted councillors Kevin Hanson and Crystal Kissel.

Deputy Reeve Jerry Gautreau put forward a subsequent motion to rescind the current policy draft and direct administration “to develop an aggregate resources extraction policy with accompanying procedures that only cover applications’ submitted requirements and performance standards.”

Gautreau said council would then consider applications on a case-by-case basis, and be in charge of considering development permits for gravel operations so that it could impose conditions such as setbacks.

His motion passed 5-3, with Wright, Hanson and Kissel voting in opposition.

Boehlke said work for the policy had turned out to be “one of the most divisive policies that I ever – ever dreamed would come here.”

“We put this thing out and it just became a bomb.”

“I just don’t agree with having citizen groups putting policy together.” Reeve Greg Boehlke

Indeed, work on the ARP policy attracted unprecedented interest – and controversy – from residents, who crowded several open houses held throughout the County.

“The first draft of the ARP was released on December 14, 2016,” noted project planner Dominic Kazmierczak in a report to council. “And over 1,850 separate comments were received.”

Kazmierczak acknowledged that residents remain strongly opposed to provisions in the ARP draft.

“The predominant concern of residents is regarding the 500-metre setback,” Kazmierczak noted. “But a number of other concerns have also been raised.”

Some of those concerns regarded the fact that such setback could be relaxed down to zero with the exception of buildings or processing extraction operations, which could be relaxed down to 100 metres.

Many residents considered setback distances should be one mile minimum (1,500 metres) with no relaxations allowed.

Withholding development on lands containing gravel deposits was another strong point of contention for many residents.

Others objected to Rocky View’s choice of Golder and Associates to write the ARP policy draft when its Alberta Sand and Gravel Association membership was discovered.

The consultant, noted Bearspaw resident Mike Edwards in a column published in the County News, is a member of “the industry lobby group whose objective it is to enhance the welfare of its members – nothing more.”

“How we, at Rocky View, made such a choice to help develop gravel policy needs to be reviewed.”

Rocky View quietly dismissed the consultant and continued working on the ARP with County staff.

Boehlke did not address this circumstance but said County administration had been unfairly chastised for putting together “a great plan.”

“God help you my friend. You got beaten up – undeservingly,” he told Kazmierczak. “It was a case of shooting the messenger.”

On May 30, the Alberta Association of Sand and Gravel expressed support for Rocky View County’s Draft Aggregate Resource Plan (ARP).

Executive Director John Ashton noted in a release that the Association “supports the clear parameters related to planning application submission requirements and performance standards as proposed within the ARP.”

Direction for the development of a gravel policy was included in Rocky View’s municipal development plan (The County Plan) adopted in 2013.

The Plan identified the following actions:

  1. Prepare an aggregate extraction policy that addresses site design, location criteria, visual impact, mitigation of extraction impacts, and appropriate setbacks between extraction activities and other land uses.
  1. Develop an aggregate management plan to identify resource areas and address land use management issues, and prepare the plan in consultation with residents, industry, and stakeholder groups.

Building permit application opens can of worms for resident

By Enrique Massot
The County News

Rocky View County resident Wade Campbell says trying to get a permit for a moved-in home has resulted in a court-ordered search of his property.

“I do not understand what they are accomplishing or how this helps anybody,” he said.

Through a spokesperson, however, the County said the search was prompted by a complaint and unrelated to Campbell’s ADU application.

“Building Permits are issued under the Safety Codes Act and are focused on the safety of the building,” noted Communications manager Grant Kaiser.

Kaiser also said that Rocky View has been “clear and reasonable in our dealings with the property owner.”

Campbell believes his application for an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) building permit in the Delacour area has prompted the County to look at other compliance issues in the property he shares with a brother.

Wade Campbell, pictured with his wife and two of his children, says a building permit has become a never-ending nightmare. Photo: Enrique Massot

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On July 11, two RCMP cruisers and County bylaw enforcement staff entered the 40-acre property and conducted a search on accessory buildings and containers.

The married father of four, 20-year resident said County staff partially opened containers to introduce a camera and record the contents.

The County then billed Campbell $1,700 for the court-authorized search.

Campbell said he has “no clue” about the purpose of the inspection.

“They just said they were helping me to be in compliance,” he said.

Kaiser said the search was prompted by an early 2017 complaint and a bylaw enforcement officer’s visual inspection from the road that detected potential violations.

The County concluded that vehicles and structures “appeared to be used in relation to a possible home-based vehicle repair business.”

In response to a County News query on whether the complaint had been made by a resident or a provincial government agency, Kaiser said the County does not release such information.

“A complaint simply alerts the County to the possibility of a violation,” Kaiser noted. “If there is a violation, the County works to resolve the issue with the landowner.”

Rocky View County suspects Wade Campbell of running an unauthorized shop in the Delacour area. Photo: Enrique Massot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After appealing conditions the County put forth for the ADU approval in 2014, Campbell paid $3,700 for required permits and assumed everything would be fine.

However, a County official told him later that he should have called Rocky View to book an inspection.

In June 2017, the County told Campbell that there were suspicions he was running an automobile shop, for which he would need a Type II business licence.

Campbell said he farms and does not run a shop.

“All this stuff is my own junk,” he said of vehicles parked on the property.

In May 2018 the County requested to come and see the property, to which Campbell refused. After the refusal, the County obtained a court order for a search with police assistance.

“They did not need to come into my property,” Campbell said. “Just tell me what compliance is.”

“I am cleaning up,” he added. “In the meantime, my taxes are going up.”

Kaiser noted Campbell could be fined $750 for operating a home-based business without authorization and an additional $750 fine for not having the necessary building permits.

Stop orders could also be issued under a section of the Municipal Government Act and compliance issues could also go to Court, he added.

“Where residents fail to comply, the County can enforce compliance,” noted Kaiser.

Campbell said he does not believe his neighbours, with whom he is in good terms, would complaint about his property. He feels he should not be forced to clean up just because he applied for a home permit.

“It’s like they are saying, ‘you challenge me (and) I’ll make your life hell.’ They should not have that power.”

Deputy Reeve Jerry Gautreau, who is the area councillor declined to comment because of the court-ordered search.

“As much as I would like to comment on this case I cannot,” he said. “As you know when things get into the courts Councillors may not comment on the issue.”

(519) 913-8778

A panel of experts will open debate on crime and fire prevention at an upcoming Rocky View County councillor’s town hall meeting, Saturday Sept. 15.

Div. 8 Bearspaw Coun. Samanntha Wright will host the event at the Bearspaw Lifestyle Centre at 9 p.m.

Members of the Cochrane Foothills Protective Association, Cochrane RCMP, Rocky View’s Fire Chief and the Manager of Enforcement will present their views prior to opening the floor for a question and answer period.

Changes to off-site levies presented at County offices

Wright is reminding residents of County presentations about proposed changes to off-site levies on water, wastewater, transportation and stormwater.

After holding a Sept. 12 session, the second will be held at the County Office, 911 32 Ave. N.E. on Wednesday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m.

“This is your opportunity to weigh in on the process,” Wright noted.

In a 3656554352, Rocky View informs that the open houses will have an impact on subdivision and development.

County representatives will be available to provide information during the open house, which will be “of particular interest to anyone planning to develop land in the County” according to the statement.

Residents and stakeholders “will have the opportunity to review the proposed changes, ask questions, and provide feedback which will be given to Council when they consider the bylaws in the fall.”

 

4343254554

Deadline July 31

Alberta citizens have time until July 31 to submit online feedback about changes to the way municipal elections are held.

A local group is encouraging Rocky View County residents to complete a provincial government survey to make their voices heard before the deadline.

“The issues that the Province has identified are all important for improving municipal elections,” noted Rocky View Forward (RVF) in a message to residents.

Potential changes to the Local Authorities Election Act include rules for campaign contributions and finances, voter identification, advance votes, residency requirements and the possibility of banning corporate and union donations.

“Given all the controversies that have swirled around past Rocky View elections, this is an important issue for future County elections,” RVF noted.

A 7028455567 contains links to a discussion guide and to a survey containing precise questions and space for additional feedback.

RVF noted the list of proposed changes hasn’t included provisions to make mandatory municipal voters’ lists.

“We cannot understand why the Province is not mandating municipal voters’ lists,” the group noted. “Reputable sources on democratic elections…identify voters’ lists as the primary and easiest tool to achieve these objectives.”

Alberta and Saskatchewan are the only two Canadian provinces that do not mandate municipal voters’ lists. While municipalities have the option to create such lists, decisions on the matter are left to each municipal council.

The recently elected Rocky View County council has decided to implement one such list in 2019, but the previous council steadfastly refused to implement one such list for use in the October 2017 election.

The related RVF web page contains links to the survey as well as a draft containing their own submissions to the provincial government.

“We encourage as many people as possible to submit their views on these important issues before the end of the month,” the group noted.

Rocky View receives feedback on cannabis regulations until July 30

The Federal Government has announced that cannabis, or marijuana, will become legal on October 17.

While the Cannabis Act federally regulates areas such as public health, education, taxation and minimum age. Provinces will legislate on, for example, wholesale and distribution, while municipalities will address public consumption, retail locations, retail rules, and land-use zoning.

Following regulations allowing the use of marijuana for those with specific medical conditions, in 2014 Rocky View approved changes to its land-use bylaw to establish locations for commercial growing operations.

As a result of marijuana’s upcoming legalization, Rocky View County will create regulations enabling or barring residential, commercial, agricultural or industrial areas as potential locations for cannabis retail stores.

Location regulations will address potential setback distances from other cannabis retail stores, liquor stores, residences, schools, daycares etc.

Municipalities will also regulate where cannabis consumption may take place, with options being to create restrictions similar, less restrictive or more restrictive than those applied to tobacco smoking or liquor consumption.

Prior to the County council considering options, Rocky View is conducting an online survey to gather residents’ opinions on the subject.

“We’re looking for your feedback,” notes the County in a release. “What we hear from you and other Rocky Viewers will help shape the recommendations that will be considered by County Council in September.”

Residents must submit their input before deadline Monday, July 30. They can take the survey by 7133717557.

Those wanting to submit additional comments or questions can e-mail LGanczar@rockyview.ca.

Additional information can be found in 7206139292