Calgary Regional Partnership folds

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Foothills: Move to make way for new growth management board

The Calgary Regional Partnership has folded to make way for a new Growth Management Board for the Calgary Region.

The CRP officially ended on the stroke of midnight on March 1.

It will be replaced by a new growth management board for the region.

Okotoks Mayor Bill Robertson, who was the CRP’s chairperson, said the new board is set to hold its first meeting on March 22.

He said the CRP has appointed a liquidator and any assets it has will be offered to the new growth board. Any assets left over will be sold. He said the CRP was folded early to save money ahead of the launch of the new board and the partnership has handed $570,000 back to the provincial government with the hopes it will go to the new board.

“We’re doing it early enough that we’re hoping it actually goes to the growth management board, that’s the reason we ended it early,” said Robertson.

The CRP was formed in 1999 when municipalities in the Calgary region joined together to deal with regional growth and planning issues.

Robertson said the CRP leaves a legacy of regional planning for development and services, particularly the On-it commuter bus service. On-it began as a pilot project in the Foothills and has been taken over by Southland Transportation, which plans to continue the service and eventually expand it to other communities. The CRP also played an important role in advocating for the creation of a foreign trade zone in Calgary and expanding broadband services in member communities, said Robertson.

The partnership oversaw the creation of the Calgary Metropolitan Plan, approved in 2009, which set guidelines for development and provisions for regional services.

This move was not without controversy. The MD of Foothills, Rockyview County and Wheatland County withdrew from the partnership with concerns over provisions requiring higher density developments and voting rules that some said gave too much power to Calgary.

MD of Foothills Reeve Larry Spilak said the CRP’s voting model, which many argued gave Calgary a veto, was the biggest point of concern for the MD.

“We just couldn’t participate because of the voting concept, it just didn’t work for us,” he said.

While membership in the CRP was voluntary, it is mandatory with the new growth board.

Spilak said MD council will be a strong voice for the MD and its landowners, despite being forced in.

“You take that and you run with it,” he said. “You do whatever you can for your municipality.

That said, Spilak said the MD is not pleased the voting and governance model will remain the same with the new board.

“We’re still not pleased with that, we tried very hard to get some special treatment for rural municipalities, only because the land is there and it belongs to independent landowners and we want to make sure that they’re protected throughout this process,” he said.

Robertson said it will be better to have rural municipalities at the same table as their urban counterparts.

“It’s important to have a set of rules that everybody plays by, it’s not good to have a set of rules, such as the Calgary Metropolitan Plan, that only some of the municipalities in the region play by and others don’t,” he said.

Yet, Robertson admitted it takes time to get over hard feelings that formed over the CMP and the imposition of a new board on municipalities that weren’t CRP members.

“It’s going to take years to get past the government mandating this,” he said.

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