Mediation will not resolve rural issues
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 27, 2013 02:08 pm
Rural and urban municipalities are at loggerheads over the Calgary Regional Partnership without a resolution in sight.
Therefore, the Provincial government should give the member municipalities a firm deadline to resolve the impasse or the Calgary Municipal Plan will be scrapped or legislated.
The partnership has been at a standstill for two years and there has been little movement since several rural municipalities, including the MD of Foothills, pulled out.
Initially, the MD had numerous issues and concerns, but it has since focused on just two: the governance model and future growth corridors.
The MD wants the voting structure revamped to eliminate what it believes is a Calgary veto and it wants its residents to have substantially more input on where future urban development will occur within Foothills’ boundaries.
There has been little to no movement on these issues and, as a result, there is little reason for the rural municipalities to consider rejoining the partnership.
It is simple, the Calgary Regional Partnership simply cannot exist without the participation of the rural municipalities.
This fact is not lost on the smaller urban municipalities who are involved in the partnership. So much so, at least one town councillor has suggested if Foothills does not rejoin the group Okotoks should withdraw as well.
It simply does not make sense to plan development, transit corridors, water and sewage programs and growth nodes without some of the most significant land holders not at the table. What Foothills, Okotoks and High River may now be asking themselves is, “Do we really need Calgary at the table?”
Instead of expanding out, Calgary should be growing up and increasing density in existing developments leaving the rural municipalities to address their own future growth and water needs.
Seems plausible, but Calgary will always remain the elephant in the room and it is growing, encroaching on what was once agricultural and country residential land — whether the rurals like it or not.
Whether it’s now or five years from now these municipalities will have to work together to guide growth and the problems associated with growth.
Mediation is unlikely to break this deadlock so the provincial government is facing an unenviable task — give them a deadline to reach an agreement on their own.
If not, the Calgary Municipal Plan will be a nonfactor while development plows ahead.