A look at Airdries role in the Calgary Regional Partnership
With any election comes campaign promises and Airdrie is no different. New and returning candidates are throwing their hats into the ring before the Sept. 23 nomination deadline and voicing their ideas for how to make the city better.
At a press conference on Sept. 5, the notion of re-evaluating the City’s participation with the Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) was brought up and is now one of the October election’s “hot-button” issues.
In a unprecedented move, four candidates for City council have decided to “run together” on three “key issues.”
One of those issues, identified by Airdrie Team United was the City’s participation with the CRP and whether the partnerships mandates were in the community’s best interest. The CRP is a collective that consists of 13 municipalities surrounding the City of Calgary.
“City council must always put residents of Airdrie first,” Jane Anderson, one of the four Airdrie Team United candidates, said in a press release issued at the announcement of the partnership on Sept 5.
“That includes developing Airdrie the way our citizens want to see it grow, rather than being forced to build to the crowded density requirements imposed on us by our membership in the Calgary Regional Partnership.”
That statement and continued discussions about the partnership’s benefits for Airdrie, led the CRP to issue its own statement Sept. 13.
“The Calgary Regional Partnership (nor the Calgary Metropolitan Plan) does not have any control over land use decisions in any member municipality,” the statement explained.
“Density targets are not regulated. They are commitments made by CRP member municipalities because they want new development to occur in ways that achieve efficient use of land and infrastructure.”
Sitting at the table with Airdrie are the communities of: Irricana, Cochrane, Calgary, Chestermere, Strathmore, Redwood Meadows, Okotoks, Nanton, Turner Valley, Black Diamond, Canmore and Banff.
“The City of Airdrie has been an active part of the CRP,” Executive Director of the Calgary Regional Partnership Colleen Shepherd said. “By voluntarily sitting at the table, it’s been involved instead of being told what to do by the Province.”
The collective bargaining is a stronger voice when dealing with funding, development and environmental concerns, she said.
“The CRP provides a regular forum, rather than going it alone, they can leverage the knowledge of their neighbours,” Shepherd said.
Clarifying its statement, Airdrie Team United member Mike De Bokx said the group members did not say they would pull out of the CRP if elected, and the statement was “misconstrued.”
“We recognize that there are benefits, we want to work with our neighbours. We’re not an island,” he explained on Sept. 17.
De Bokx said he is concerned over his understanding of the CRP’s density regulations and the City of Calgary’s veto vote.
Along with a collective bargaining tool, the City of Airdrie receives its potable water from the partnership with the CRP.
“The Bow River Basin is four per cent of the flowing water in Alberta,” Shepherd said.
“It services 40 per cent of the population. There also has been a moratorium on obtaining water licenses from the basin.”
Despite this fact, De Bokx said he is not worried about Airdrie’s water supply.
“I can’t see them turning off the taps,” De Bokx said. “I don’t think they are not going to give us water for development.”
Rocky View County (RVC) withdrew from the CRP in 2009, citing concerns with Calgary’s veto vote and urban development practices within a rural context.
Rocky View County built the East Balzac water treatment plant and reservoir construction of the facility began in the fall of 2009 and became operational in December 2010. Water delivery began in February 2011. The total cost of the project was $36 million.
The Town of High River pulled out of the CRP on April 2013, sighting issues and concerns over Calgary’s veto power.