Familiar face to run for Rocky View council
By: Dawn Smith
| Posted: Tuesday, Oct 19, 2010 06:00 am
Rocky View County residents are being given another choice in the upcoming municipal election.
Former long-time Rocky View County reporter Enrique Massot, 61, has announced his intentions to run for councillor in Division 9.
“I have covered the county as a reporter for…more than 10 years,” said Massot, who lives in the Grand Valley area. “Driving across Rocky View in many directions…my heart became a little bit involved with the county. I came to love the area.”
In his years of covering community events, councils and speaking to residents, Massot said he has learned a great deal about the issues.
“I have seen many different councils, reeves and many different senior administration (staff members) come and go and I feel I have something to offer,” he said.
If elected, Massot would make listening to residents a priority, something he says the current council has not done effectively.
Massot would also like to see Rocky View revise the Growth Management Strategy, its 50-year visioning document, which he says did not have adequate public input and was in opposition to what the experts, hired by the County, concluded would be efficient and sustainable growth.
“Rocky View should stay away from the business of building big urban nodes,” said Massot. “What I heard from the residents is they live in the country and they want to stay in the country. They don’t want the city to come out and reach them.”
Massot said Rocky View has the unique opportunity to work towards preserving farms and ranches and taking care of the environment, including water and watersheds, rather than competing with large urban centres for development.
According to Massot, the cost of servicing large growth nodes in the county would be exorbitant.
“Avoiding the huge expense in infrastructure would avoid the fiasco such as happened in east Balzac,” said Massot. “It has been said that Rocky View needed development to be in a better position financially. What has happened, in fact, is the exact opposite. Because of the will to have development we went from about $5 million in debt to about $60.8 million in debt (in five years).”
That debt was partially incurred, said Massot, when the County built a sewage system without knowing whether it would have servicing. According to Massot, the east Rocky View sewage system is designed to eventually service 16,000 acres. Once that system is upgraded, as the County’s plans call for, it will have cost about $198 million, he added.
“This is huge and totally inappropriate,” said Massot. “By gambling and making rushed decisions, the ratepayers have been jeopardized.”
Massot would like to see better overall planning and a better relationship with municipal partners.
“In my view, once Rocky View takes out the will to build urban nodes, then automatically you stop competing for development,” said Massot, adding the County would then be able to renegotiate with the Calgary Regional Partnership.
“If the renegotiations are successful, Rocky View could have access to regional servicing,” said Massot.
According to Massot, during Calgary annexation talks, the County gave Calgary “the cold shoulder” when the city offered water and sewer servicing to Shepherd area residents, Chestermere High School, a power plant near Crossfield, and a joint study for the whole area west of Rocky View, in exchange for Balzac lands.
“I think that was a very bad decision,” said Massot.
“I think they should have negotiated at that time in good faith.”
Massot said the County should put policies in place to collect money from developers to help pay for soft services such as fire stations, police, community services, parks, recreation facilities and libraries.
“In the present situation, you are knowingly passing development without getting that money,” said Massot.
“How are we going to pay for those services? Development shouldn’t be on the backs of taxpayers. Development has to pay for itself.”
Massot said he is not against development, as long as it is appropriate and can demonstrate itself to be positive for a rural municipality.
If elected, Massot said he would strongly push to create policies to support development credits for landowners, legislation that has recently been passed by the Province.
“That would allow a much more fair economic distribution,” said Massot. “Now some landowners can sell their land to developers if they are within a certain area, and it they are outside, they get nothing.”