Firearms bylaw ambushed, Strategic Plan approved, Bearspaw subdivision approved
COUNCIL UPDATE MAY 14th, 2019
· STRATEGIC PLAN APPROVED
· SPECIALIZED TRANSPORTATION GRANTS APPROVED
· BEARS DEN PATIO AND ACCESSORY BUILDINGS APPROVED
· LAZY H CONCEPT SCHEME APPROVED IN DIVISION 3
· BEARSPAW SUBDIVISION APPROVED
· FIREARMS BYLAW AMBUSHED
· LETTER REGARDING COUNTY POSITION ON SR1 SENT TO NEW GOVERNMENT
· COUNCIL APPOINTS INVESTIGATOR FOR CODE OF CONDUCT VIOLATIONS
STRATEGIC PLAN APPROVED
While its release has been anticipated for months, Council approved its Strategic Plan at the May 14th meeting. The Strategic Plan “sets a vision 15 to 20 years into the future, creating a blueprint that resonates with residents and reflects what is required to manage growth and remain fiscally resilient, all while protecting our unique communities and landscapes. The Plan is a guiding document for the entire organization. It provides the foundation for Council decision-making as we create policy, set budgets, approve plans, and oversee the renewal and development of services and programs”.
The plan highlights three core values: integrity, leadership and accountability. Its three key pillars are: service excellence, financial health and responsible growth. I believe the plan sets a positive foundation and framework for this Council to govern under.
SPECIALIZED TRANSPORTATION GRANTS APPROVED Each year the County receives requests for grants to subsidize transportation costs related to medical/therapeutic appointments for seniors and those with disabilities. This year the following amounts were awarded to:
· Rocky View Handibus - $289,000
· Bragg Creek Snowbirds - $7,500
· Individual Applicants - $7000
Questions arose about how the money was being allocated and whether supporting both the Bragg Creek Snowbirds and the RV Handibus was a duplication since the Handibus covers the same area as the Bragg Creek service. As well, questions were asked about service differences since RV Handibus users pay a fee to use the service, whereas the Bragg Creek Snowbirds users do not. Administration has committed to reviewing the policy in advance of funding requests for 2020.
BEARS DEN PATIO AND ACCESSORY BUILDINGS APPROVED
An application to amend Direct Control Bylaw 73, the Bears Den restaurant, to accommodate a patio and accessory buildings was approved unanimously.
The applicant, a Bearspaw resident, indicated that he wanted to revitalize the restaurant to provide a place for the community to come to, provide employment opportunities for the community and to use community-based vendors.
There was one letter of opposition from an immediate neighbour, however, the applicant acknowledged the concerns about noise and his willingness to follow the County’s bylaw noted that the patio would be on the opposite side of the building, furthest from the residence. Save for the one residential neighbour, the surrounding buildings are zoned commercial.
LAZY H CONCEPT SCHEME APPROVED IN DIVISION 3
An application to approve the final phase of the Lazy H developments (Alandale Estates) in Division 3 was approved unanimously. Administration had recommended approval.
Lazy H is a staged development, this application was for its final phase. Because of this phasing, there was some concern over how the municipal reserves would be collected. Administration suggested cash-in-lieu for part of the amount and having the lands that were considered “common lands” held under a Condo Board. The applicant had asked that the land be designated as MR and forego paying cash-in-lieu. However, as was illustrated by Administration, this was something that had been tried back in the 90’s with the original development but was rejected.
Those who spoke on the matter wanted to maintain the status quo. The neighbours had been taking care of these “common lands” for decades and were content continuing to do so. The local Councillor, Kevin Hanson, stated that common lands were not MR and as such sided with Administration’s recommendation, as did the remainder of Council.
BEARSPAW SUBDIVISION APPROVED
An application to approve 2 lots (1.98-acres and 1.97-acres) on Rolling Acres Dr and Bearspaw Rd was approved unanimously. Administration had recommended approval.
The application was relatively straight forward in that all municipal reserves and transportation off-site levies had already been paid. There was some concern about the potential size of the lots should Bearspaw Rd need further widening, as it would involve a 3m right of way allotment. However, Administration stated that it shouldn’t cause any future problems, not to mention, Bearspaw Rd was only widened last year. It will be a good number of years before any future widening beyond that will occur.
FIREARMS BYLAW AMBUSHED
In an emergent motion, Councillor McKylor brought forward amendments to the firearms bylaw that would allow for event permits in no-shooting zones. An emergent motion is one that is not on the agenda rather is brought forward for urgent or emergency reasons. The key reason for McKylor’s motion was that there was a landowner in her Division, whose property fell under the no-shooting bylaw, who had been holding an annual skeet shooting fundraising event for years. Under the firearm bylaw, this would not be allowed.
The inclusion of this landowner’s property under the no-shooting bylaw has been a concern since the bylaw was approved – it is a clear example of how the bylaw needs amending. This is precisely why, in February, Council voted to bring the bylaw to the public for input.
Unfortunately, this never occurred. As such, it made sense to support McKylor’s motion and allow for exceptions to the bylaw that would permit the fundraising event and other similar special events until the matter could be addressed in a more fulsome manner through public engagement. While there was some debate from some councillors about the relevance of the firearms bylaw altogether, the motion passed unanimously.
Immediately after McKylor’s motion passed, Councillor Henn made a follow-up motion to repeal the firearms bylaw. Henn, along with Gautreau and Schule, stated that the bylaw was redundant as provincial and federal legislation already exists to protect Rocky View’s residents. They also stated it was nothing more than a make work project for Administration.
In Bearspaw, the bylaw has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response. To repeal it without any public engagement was, in my opinion, an abuse of Council’s authority, especially since we had already committed to receiving public input. As Councillor Hanson explained, we are no longer considered a rural municipality, we have many areas that are becoming increasingly urbanized - not all areas should be treated the same. It is Council’s failure to recognize this element of the bylaw that I believe is the key flaw.
The motion to repeal the firearms bylaw was held at third reading on a vote of 6-3. There must be unanimous consent for third reading to pass. Councillors Hanson, Kissel and I did not provide our consent in the hope that our colleagues would have sober second thought before the matter came back to Council on May 28th.
LETTER REGARDING COUNTY POSITION ON SR1 SENT TO NEW GOVERNMENT
In a motion brought forward by Councillor McKylor, Council directed Administration to resend a letter to the new Provincial government on the County’s position on the Springbank Dry Dam (SR1).
The County believes that there hasn’t been enough research done on flood mitigation and the decision to use SR1 as a solution was rushed. While we do not want to see a repeat of the events of 2013, the County wants to make sure all options are explored and all facts are considered before committing to any one solution.
COUNCIL APPOINTS INVESTIGATOR FOR CODE OF CONDUCT VIOLATIONS
In an 8-1 decision, Council appointed the Edmonton based legal firm of Reynolds Mirth Richards Farmer as the investigator for any and all Councillor code of conduct code violations. Councillor Kissel was the stand-alone opposition.
According to the Council Code of Conduct - any person who has identified or witnessed conduct by a Councillor that they reasonably believe, in good faith, is in contravention of this Bylaw may file a formal complaint. Formal complaints are made in writing to the investigator who in turn makes recommendations about the validity of said those complaints.