June Bearspaw Beat - CAO leaves, Upcoming large applications
CAO LEAVES COUNTY - REPLACED BY KENT ROBINSON
In April, the County’s Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Al Hoggan resigned to pursue an opportunity in the MD of Bonnyville. At time of writing, Council has appointed Executive Director Kent Robinson as acting-CAO.
Given the upcoming municipal election, my preference would be to keep it that way. Hiring an interim or permanent CAO takes time and getting a new CAO up to speed during COVID, while most employees work from home, would be difficult. When you consider that Council takes August off and the municipal election is in October, keeping Mr. Robinson in the position until a new Council is elected seems most sensible.
As you recall, it was Councillor Hanson, Kissel and my response to Hoggan’s hiring process that resulted in our sanctions back in 2019 and that our legal challenge of those sanctions was successful. However, the Council majority decided to appeal the court ruling. Unfortunately, the court date for the appeal will not be until 2022, after the election. Furthermore, except for the communication sanction that originated with Hoggan, the sanctions were to have expired last October, even without the court ruling.
UPCOMING WEEKLY COUNCIL MEETINGS AND LARGE APPLICATIONS
To accommodate the large number of applications coming forward, Council has moved to weekly meetings. Despite Adminstration’s recommendation to hold three additional meetings between June and September, since many developers requested that their applications be heard by this Council, the Council majority decided to hold weekly meetings to try and clear the queue before October’s election.
Many of these applications are quite large. They include the Glenmore East Area Structure Plan (ASP), Highway 1 East ASP, Shepherd ASP, Elbow View ASP, and in Bearspaw, the Ascension and Damkar Lands applications. Not to mention the recently approved Springbank ASPs, Coach Creek development in Springbank and Gateway Village development in Bragg Creek.
While the first three ASPs are commercial / industrial endeavours, the latter are predominantly residential. Combined they propose adding over 65,000 residents to the County, more than doubling our current population.
The Springbank ASPs and Coach Creek applications were approved despite overwhelming opposition from local residents. Regarding the Springbank ASPs, residents felt there was insufficient public engagement and raised major concerns about densification and commercialization of their community. With Coach Creek, residents felt that the development lacked any transitioning, rather it simply continued the adjacent city development. There were also extensive concerns around traffic impacts, stormwater management and servicing. The City of Calgary raised similar concerns as well as the lack of cost recovery mechanisms for shared infrastructure.
Conversely, Bragg Creek’s Gateway Village development received substantial community support. The developer did his utmost to ensure that public engagement, even amidst COVID, was as meaningful and productive as possible. The plan was designed with Bragg Creek’s revitalization at the forefront. Gateway Village is proof of what can be accomplished when a developer collaborates and communicates with the affected community.