After a lot of media attention and public verbal quips (refer to our previous post to get caught up), the Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) voted to accept the mediation solution presented by the Minister of Municipal Affairs, Doug Griffiths. The terms of mediation were delivered by the Province today. Pending agreement by the rural municipalities, mediation is set to begin in March and expected to be completed by June 2013.
This is good news. With an independent mediator, both the Partnership and the rural communities of Rocky View County and the Municipal District of Foothills can hopefully reach an agreement about the Calgary Metropolitan Plan (CMP). We need everyone working together to prepare for the more than three million people (double the current population) expected to live in the Calgary Region over the next 60 years.
The Metropolitan Plan was initially developed with all the municipalities of the Calgary Region at the table. After the Plan was approved in 2009, the rural municipalities left the CRP over concerns about governance, density and water. In addition, the Plan has been with the provincial government awaiting approval for nearly four years. This mediation should be the end of a long process of negotiations.
Below is the timeline of the Partnership’s efforts to bring the rural municipalities back to the CRP.
Since 2010, the CRP has made significant and generous efforts to reach the rural municipalities, address their issues and make it possible for them to return to the Partnership. However, none of the offers or proposed amendments to the Plan were accepted by Rocky View County or the Municipal District of Foothills.
The rural municipalities had significant concerns about the Partnership’s decision-making model. More specifically, its vagueness and potential to infringe on their municipality’s development autonomy. The Calgary Regional Partnership, therefore, significantly limited the scope of the Plan’s decision-making model to just:
- Amending the Calgary Metropolitan Plan
- Regional water and wastewater system
- Regional transportation
The Municipal District (MD) of Foothills had major concerns about the Metropolitan Plan’s depiction of growth areas in their municipality. The Partnership addressed these concerns by offering to remove the said growth areas and show them as under review by the MD. Furthermore, the Plan was to be amended when Foothills came back with their own growth plan.
The Metropolitan Plan also clarified a policy allowing municipalities to have autonomy and flexibility to implement density over time. We need to respect that growth differs significantly between various communities. (See more about density here).
Finally, the Plan does not freeze land, but instead created a policy clarifying that future growth areas will continue to be protected through intermunicipal development plans and agreement (for those non-planners, that means municipalities collaborating to grow into lands together in the future). (Pg: 28-29 of the Plan).
Some struggling small urban centres in Wheatland County were running out of water, threatening their community’s health and well-being. An exception was created in the Plan to allow the City of Calgary to provide them water, although Calgary has not heard back from the County. The CMP has other policies supporting rural communities with regard to water (Pg: 32-33 of the Plan)
The Calgary Regional Partnership has purposely chosen a different approach, one that doesn’t create another level of government. We don’t want to approve or disapprove local development plans. The CRP and the CMP allows municipalities, urban and rural, to carve their own path. While we want the Calgary Metropolitan Plan legislated, the Partnership wants to remain a voluntary organization, allowing its municipalities to take care of their own local planning decisions.
We look forward to working with the mediator and the rural communities to ensure the Calgary Metropolitan Plan is accepted by all parties. We developed the Plan together and want to move forward together.