Firearms bylaw repealed, CAO hiring policy approved, Janet ASP - expanded study area denied
MAY 28TH COUNCIL UPDATE
· SPRING COMMUNITY RECREATION FUNDING APPROVED
· JANET ASP – EXPANDED STUDY AREA DENIED
· FIREARMS BYLAW REPEALED
· CAO HIRING BYLAW APPROVED
· MOTION TO HIRE LOBBYIST REGARDING SR1
· MOTION TO RENAME COUNTY ROAD
SPRING COMMUNITY RECREATION FUNDING APPROVED
Council approved its community recreation capital and operation funding requests in an amount totalling over $1,375,000. These grants were provided to over 40 organizations that provide recreational opportunities to Rocky View residents. For a total breakdown of the grants, please click here.
JANET ASP – EXPANDED STUDY AREA DENIED
When the terms of reference for the Long-Term Development area in the Janet ASP were brought forward at the April 30th Council meeting, Councillor Gautreau made a motion to examine the costs and feasibility associated with expanding the Janet ASP study area. The terms of reference presented at the April 30th meeting would open up the Long-Term Development area. It was to be a developer-funded ASP review.
Administration determined that expanding the study area would cost $112,000. As such, they recommended not pursuing the matter as there was no guarantee the developer would cover this cost and because there would be significantly more risks and delays associated with expanding the area. Council agreed and advised Administration to continue with the ASP review as outlined in the original terms of reference.
Gautreau then made a motion to create an area structure plan for the Glenmore Corridor (east Rocky View). That motion passed 6-3 with Councillors Hanson, Kissel and I in opposition. The majority on council is continuously stating that we are piling too much on Administration’s plate, this is a classic example of that type of behaviour. Not to mention, why are we introducing new ASPs when the County Plan review is coming forward later this year? Shouldn’t development be driven by participation in the County Plan process not pre-determined by the whim of Council?
FIREARMS BYLAW REPEALED
As mentioned in my May 14th update, repeal of the firearms bylaw was held at third reading on a vote of 6-3. Councillors Hanson, Kissel and I were opposed. After some lengthy debate, third reading of the repeal of firearms bylaw passed 5-4 with Reeve Boehlke coming on side to support the continuation of the bylaw. Boehlke, the Councillor with the most rural population, stated that while his residents weren’t impacted by the bylaw, he recognized its potential benefit in other more densely populated regions.
Redundancy and the fact that the bylaw had been brought forward for review on numerous separate occasions, were cited as the key reasons to repeal the bylaw. However, Administration quickly pointed out that Councillor McKylor’s motion to create provisions for special event permits and her request to bring it to the public for engagement in February, were the only times it had come forward for official debate with a resulting motion.
For a county that wants to become a specialized municipality (meaning it recognizes its urban and rural diversity through different tax rates and servicing levels while operating under one government), I found this decision to be completely disheartening. I had heard loud and clear from many residents that they wanted this bylaw. In fact, in February, this Council made a commitment to bring the bylaw forward for public review. This never happened. When I asked why, Administration explained that it had somehow slipped through the cracks.
The bylaw did have some inconsistencies. For one thing, some of the no shooting zones included parcels that probably should have been excluded. A simple solution for that would have been to redraw the boundaries, not scrap the entire bylaw. The special events permit was another method of relaxing those rules. Perhaps, there could also have been provisions for allowing permits for archery clubs within no shooting zones (another criticism that was raised as a reason to repeal the bylaw). As Councillor Hanson pointed out, to repeal the entire bylaw akin to “throwing the baby out with the bathwater” rather than attempting to address a few discrepancies in a bylaw that provided important additional enforcement capabilities to many Rocky View residents.
Throughout the debate, Councillor McKylor repeatedly stated that we could repeal the bylaw as she had prepared a motion arising. As soon as the firearms bylaw was repealed, McKylor immediately brought forward her follow-up motion – to create a “new” firearms bylaw.
While the idea of supporting a new bylaw seemed nonsensical, when we could have simply taken the original bylaw to the public for amendments, I supported her motion as I was aware that the majority of Bearspaw residents supported a firearms bylaw – in essence, something was better than nothing. However, when I asked if the “new” bylaw could be prepared as expeditiously as possible, Administration reminded Council that a firearms bylaw needs provincial approval - meaning it could take months - long beyond this year’s hunting season.
Because of this potential delay, I asked if we could reverse the previous decision to repeal the Firearms bylaw. The Reeve advised that the only way to do so was to have someone from the majority side of the previous decision make a motion to redo the vote.
We appealed to Councillor McKylor’s recognition of the need for a bylaw by pointing out that an amended version of the previous bylaw could achieve the same result as an entirely “new” bylaw. Unfortunately, she disagreed and insisted on going ahead with her motion to create a new bylaw. Her motion was defeated 5-4 with only Kissel, Hanson and I in support. Meaning Rocky View County no longer has a firearms bylaw.
CAO HIRING POLICY APPROVED
At the end of April, Councillors Hanson, Kissel and I brought forward a notice of motion to create a CAO hiring bylaw. If you recall, our motion was removed from the agenda before it had chance to be debated. This week, Administration brought forward a CAO Hiring Bylaw for Council approval.
The document was presented as an appendix to the CAO Bylaw, which outlines the delegation of authority from Council to the CAO. The majority on Council questioned this approach as the casual language in the document read more as a policy or procedure than a bylaw. Councillor Kissel called the document vague and stated that, if it was going to be part of a bylaw, it needed to have more of a legal slant. This was echoed by Councillor Hanson who also commented on how poorly laid out it was and how it was missing key steps in a best-practices hiring process.
Furthermore, it was almost a carbon copy of the Municipal Affairs booklet that outlines guidelines for hiring a CAO. While this is a good source in theory, the booklet clearly indicates that its recommendations are guidelines not something to be copied verbatim.
Hiring a CAO is a critical responsibility of a Council. While the bulk of the document’s drafting could be done by Administration, the leg work and brainstorming behind it should be done by Council. This was not the case. Instead it was drafted entirely by Administration. As such, I brought forward a motion to have the bylaw reviewed by Council’s Policy Review Committee on June 18th and brought back for Council consideration on June 25th. My motion failed 5-4 with only Councillors Gautreau, Hanson and Kissel supporting me.
After some further debate and encouragement by the Reeve, Gautreau brought forward a motion to have the proposed appendix severed from the CAO bylaw and approved as a recommended hiring process. While this was better than it remaining as part of the bylaw, I couldn’t support the motion as I did not believe the document outlined a proper hiring process and would be of little benefit in helping future Councils avoid issues like the ones this Council encountered when hiring our current CAO.
MOTION TO HIRE LOBBYIST REGARDING SR1
Councillor McKylor introduced her motion to direct Administration to engage a lobbyist or lobby firm to advocate the County’s position on the SR1 project to the new provincial government. The proposed budget of $40,000 will be assigned from the Tax Stabilization Reserve.
The motion will be debated on June 11th.
MOTION TO RENAME COUNTY ROAD
In February, Council passed its Road Naming Policy. The policy provides guidelines when naming new roads and/or existing roads in the County. The fee for this is $500.
On a request from the Balzac business community, Councillor Henn introduced a motion to have Range Road 291, which leads to the new County Hall, renamed to John Church Lane and that the $500.00 fee be waived.
The motion will also be debated on June 11th.