February 21/23 Council Update
BUDDHIST CHURCH IN DIVISION 5 REFUSED
An application to change a 4-acre rural residential (R-RUR) property to public service (S-PUB) in Division 5 was refused. Administration recommended refusal as it did not follow policy in that it did not benefit the broader public and was incompatible with adjacent land uses.
The applicant’s consultant stated that the Church had been operating for a few years and that the congregation was only 10 families predominantly from outside Rocky View. It was noted there had been enforcement complaints dating back to 2016. There was considerable opposition from neighbouring properties. They raised concerns over traffic impacts, lack of proper infrastructure and the potential for setting a precedent since other religious assemblies were looking to locate nearby.
Local Councillor Boehlke’s motion to refuse the application was supported unanimously. In my opinion, there are locations within the County that support religious institutions; this isn’t one of them. I also believe that landowners should understand the permissible uses of property before they purchase it. The “this is where I own land” mentality isn’t a solid planning rationale to redesignate property, especially when the community has been opposed since day one.
SOLAR FARM DEVELOPMENT PERMIT APPROVED 5-2
An application for a development permit of a solar farm in Division 5 was approved 5-2 with all but Boehlke and Kochan in support.
The lands are currently zoned Direct Control District 166, which allows for a solar farm. An
earlier application in May 2022 was refused for three key reasons: a need to incorporate joint agricultural and community uses; the lack of security payment to ensure satisfactory site decommissioning and reclamation; and the absence of a time-limit on the Development Permit.
The applicant submitted a new application that addressed these issues. The February 21st application proposed a collaboration with local post-secondary programs to explore the study of Agrivoltaics; a proposed security of $2.5 million for site decommissioning and reclamation (with the potential to increase this amount); and a proposed time limit to the permit.
Boehlke wanted to put the application on hold until the County’s solar policy was completed (estimated to be coming to Council in June this year). However, as Samra stated, the applicants had addressed all the concerns that were raised in Council’s previous refusal of the application. As a result, Samra moved to approve the application.
JANET AREA STRUCTURE PLAN AMENDMENTS APPROVED
The Janet Area Structure Plan (ASP) amendments facilitate development within 2,443 acres of land located east of the Western Irrigation District canal in Division 6, which had been identified as a future planning area when the ASP was originally approved.
The amendments were given first reading on February 25, 2020. They were then revised to address feedback from adjacent landowners, Administration, and the City of Calgary. The Janet ASP envisioned these lands as a continuation of the limited-service commercial and industrial development in the rest of the Janet ASP. The amendments were led by the County and developer funded.
The process began in late 2019. Due to uncertainty around the Calgary Metropolitan Regional Growth Plan the project was put on hold. In April 2022, the green light was given to proceed with the project. Landowners within the study area, stakeholders, and agencies were involved throughout the project to provide feedback and input.
With the exception of the height of the berm surrounding the residential community of Prairie Schooner Estates, the amendments were well supported by the community. Taking this feedback into account, Samra’s amendment to change the berm from 2m to 4m was supported unanimously.
COCHRANE LAKES REVITALIZATION PLAN
Cochrane Lake is located north of the Town of Cochrane. The lake has several challenges
including issues with stormwater flows, water quality, and access; as such, current recreation opportunities are limited. Macdonald Communities has developed a plan to improve the lake water quality and to prevent future flooding as there are no natural outlets.
MacDonald envisions having a berm built around the entire 200-acre lake to allow for an
increase in the lake’s depth and address current issues with algae growth. To expand on
potential recreational opportunities, they also talked about constructing a pathway around the entire lake with public access.
While MacDonald, along with other developers who own lands surrounding the lake, are willing to contribute to the estimated $8 million revitalization plan, they believe that the potential regional significance of the lake should justify the County providing some financial support. MacDonald noted this could be done through a variety of methods from the introduction of recreation and storm levies to funding from the tax stabilization reserves to grant monies.
As Chief Administration Officer Dorian Wandzura noted, growth should pay for growth. If the lake becomes a recreation amenity for a wider audience, then the County could consider some funding, but it would have to be front ended by developers.
Council supported the request to have Administration work with MacDonald to explore potential funding options under the condition that MacDonald take the lead on the project.