CRP under the microscope from MLA and mayors
It’s been a busy week as election candidates announced nominations for the Oct. 21 municipal election on Sept. 23. But a war-of-words between the Town of Cochrane’s out-going Mayor Truper McBride and Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson via Twitter stole the show Sept. 20.
The disagreement of opinions evolved over the City of Airdrie’s involvement in the Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) and McBride’s accusation that Airdrie’s Team United political campaign is backed by Anderson.
Four alderman candidates running for council banded together, under the name Airdrie Team United, and announced they would “revisit” Airdrie’s involvement in the CRP as one of three election platforms, Sept. 5.
In media reports released on Sept. 18, McBride, who is also the chair of the CRP, accused Anderson of secretly backing Airdrie Team United and said the Airdrie MLA was aggressively seeking candidates that were against Airdrie’s involvement in the CRP.
McBride claims Anderson made comments about Airdrie involvement in the CRP and his “future involvement” in the issue in a meeting between CRP representatives and Wildrose Party members in 2012.
“(The meeting) was part of our education campaign,” Karl Yeh, communications officer with the CRP explained in an email to the Airdrie City View. “We had previously met with the Provincial Ministers and then some government MLAs. Then we wanted to meet with the Wildrose MLAs who represented constituency in the Calgary Region.”
Anderson officially denied this claim on Sept. 18 and asked for a public apology from McBride. .
McBride said he would not apologize to Anderson on Sept. 25.
“There’s not going to be an apology,” McBride said. “He said what he said.”
According to Yeh, no minutes were recorded at the meeting in question.
According to Anderson, the issue stems from conflicting arguments over density parameters included in the Calgary Metropolitan Plan (CMP), which is part of the CRP.
“Do they (CRP) have legislative powers (over Airdrie)?” City of Airdrie Mayor Peter Brown asked. “No, none, never.”
Brown, who also sits as a board member on the CRP, said the Plan is aimed at discussing issues that face all 13 municipalities in the collective such as: water and wastewater, transportation, economic development and managing growth.
Brown said those who believe the CRP will affect density requirements need to collect more information.
“Honestly, I don’t know why (the CRP has come up as an election issue this year),” he said. “People who are making it an issue, don’t know about it. None of them have attended a meeting that I was a part of. It’s hard to have a five-minute discussion about it (CRP), but the CRP is about pooling resources and advocating to the province.”
Representatives from the CRP have answered claims that the regulations would dictate density in the City of Airdrie, stating that “the Calgary Regional Partnership (nor the Calgary Metropolitan Plan) does not have any control over land-use decisions in any member municipality,” in a press release on Sept. 13.
“Neither are we involved in approving or commenting directly on any municipal land decisions. Density targets are not regulated.”
The CMP was created and approved by the board in 2009 and was recently revisited and underwent an “update” in 2012. According to Anderson, the plan will enforce density requirements on the City of Airdrie.
“I’m in favour of the CRP,” Anderson said. “It works on a regional level, there’s nothing wrong with that, to have a forum.”
The CRP, developed the CMP in 2009, and according to its website, uses the document as a guideline for the coming years.
“I do disagree with Peter on this, it’s a respectful disagreement, but the CMP does regulate development. It’s a legal document, which several municipalities have signed on to, which Airdrie has signed on to.”
Anderson points to a section within the document, to solidify his stance.
On page 28 of the CMP – available for public viewing on the CRP’s website at www.calgaryregion.ca – in section 3.a.5 titled, “Minimum Density,” the section states that “Unplanned lands in existing priority growth areas and lands identified for new priority growth areas will be designed and approved in local plans to achieve a minimum density of eight to 10 units per gross residential acre, and encourage higher densities where achievable. Municipalities may stage in density over time.”
“The CMP does not dictate development in Airdrie,” McBride said. “It’s a policy document and there are no incidents (of it controlling development). We continue to try and explain to Mr. Anderson that the CMP has no mechanisms to force development in Airdrie.”
Anderson reiterated that he agrees with the CRP’s goal of bringing municipalities together, but explained that while “being good neighbours” is important, it shouldn’t come at the municipalities’ expense.
“Everybody knows good neighbours have good fences,” he said.