Council postpones growth decision
Okotoks: Issue put off until Sept. 24
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, May 16, 2012 06:00 am
Okotoks’ growth cap will remain in place until the fall after town council voted to delay a decision on the population cap.
On Monday night town councillors voted 5-2 to postpone the decision on a proposal to annex land for future growth until Sept 24. Councillors Laurie Hodson, Ed Sands, Stephen Clark, Florence Christophers and Mayor Bill Robertson supported postponing the decision. Councillors Matt Rockley, Ray Watrin and Florence Christophers opposed the delay. Council was scheduled to make a decision on the annexation at its June 25 meeting.
Hodson said the Town is facing a difficult question and he argued council needs to take the time to understand the issue and the implications of the options facing Okotoks.
“I’m quite happy with September, just to give us a bit of breathing room,” he said.
While Hodson initially proposed postponing the decision until November, he said he was open to other dates councillors thought appropriate.
Clark suggested holding the decision in September as June was too early, November was too late and the summer months weren’t appropriate.
The Town is in the middle of a public consultation process gathering feedback from residents. Two meetings were held last week and a third for businesses is set for June 5. The Town will also promote a household survey on the issue as part of the annual census, starting this month. Council will receive the results of the consultation process and survey question on the Friday before the June 25 meeting.
Clark said this doesn’t leave council with enough time to digest the results.
“If we’re going to have a genuine consultative process where we want to hear from our residents, receiving a report on a Friday and going through volumes of information that we expect, it would be disingenuous of us to say we could go through it and truly listen to our residents,” he said.
Rockley said he was disappointed by the decision adding it was simply a delay tactic and council needs to stand by the June 25 date.
“We owe it to our community, we can’t say we’re going to do something and not do it,” he said.
Rockley said there has been plenty of time to review the issue and its implications since he first proposed annexing land for future growth in February and the decision has already been postponed once.
“It was clear that we were postponing until June 25 to give time for consultation,” he said.
Rockley explained his motion is merely to start the annexation process and council can work out the details in the coming months.
“This would just be the initial step, all of the analysis around where and what the annexation areas would be, how they’d be serviced, how much land, all of those details would be worked out through negotiation with the MD (of Foothills) and research from administration,” he said.
As well, with the MD looking to withdraw from the Intermunicipal Development Plan and the Calgary Regional Partnership expecting to finalize the Calgary Metropolitan Plan by the end of June, he said other parties won’t wait for a decision.
“Nobody else is waiting for the Town, things are happening without us and it’s time for us to provide clear direction one way or another,” he said.