May/21 Bearspaw Beat submission - CMRB Growth Plan
There’s been a lot of talk about the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board’s (CMRB) Growth Plan and its potential impacts on the County. I thought some background information might be useful.
Under the Growth Plan, new or amended Area Structure Plans (ASPs) will need CMRB approval. All existing ASPs are grandfathered, and development can continue under them without CMRB involvement. Also, development below “regionally significant” thresholds doesn’t need CMRB involvement. What will be impacted is the County’s ability to approve new urban-style developments wherever it chooses, creating an argument that this eliminates our autonomy.
This is somewhat true, some autonomy is lost when working collaboratively. However, the benefits from regional co-operation should not be overlooked. For example, the County will have expanded opportunities for development in two of three identified Joint Planning Areas, with an opportunity (through collaboration) to create more as the need arises. This joint participation allows the County to expand its opportunities in these areas, through water and waste-water servicing, public transit and shared soft services – things that often pose challenges or come at prohibitive expense to a rural municipality.
Not to mention, the Growth Plan anticipates the County maintaining its 3% share of the region's population, while benefiting from 14% of the region's employment growth – a significantly disproportionate share in Rocky View’s favour. And, one that aligns well with the County’s target of a 30% commercial assessment base.
There also has been some criticism that the Board is an unelected fourth level of government. This is misleading. While the CMRB is not directly elected, all those who sit at the table are elected officials, usually the mayors or reeves of the member municipalities.
There is also some concern that the consultant hired to do the work is urban focused. When you’re talking about efficiently planning for the next million people in a region where 95% live in the urban areas, it is hard not to take an urban focus. Could there be additional consideration for Rocky View? It depends on how you look at it. As noted previously, Rocky View’s existing ASPs are grandfathered, meaning the 20 – 200 years of already approved growth within those ASPs can continue as planned. Furthermore, the Growth Plan also recognizes the need to protect the watershed, our agricultural lands and rural character.
Lastly, the CMRB has been criticized for its lack of an appeal mechanism. Again, true. However, rather than imposing one, the province left the CMRB to design its own appeal mechanism which should be in place by the time the Regional Growth Plan is approved.
As always, I strongly urge you to get informed. More information about the Board can be found at www.calgarymetroregion.ca.