City council opposes upcoming CRP decision items
By: Matt Durnan
| Posted: Thursday, May 08, 2014 10:48 am
Airdrie will not be supporting three regional decision items to be considered at an upcoming Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) meeting on May 15.
Council voted four-to-three in opposition of the items that included text amendments to the Calgary Metropolitan Plan (CMP), ratifying the decision-making process relating to regional water and wastewater servicing, and a study on water and wastewater protection.
CRP Chair Barry Williamson and Kelly Learned, CRP lead for implementation of regional servicing, attended the May 5 meeting of Airdrie City council to provide an overview of the CRP and CMP while discussing the upcoming regional decision items.
The 14-municipality CRP has been in place since 1999 and is a collaborative network in which municipalities in the Calgary Region work together to ensure growth occurs in a sustainable manner.
Deputy Mayor Ron Chapman voted in opposition to the regional decision items, namely the current voting structure outlined in the CMP that stipulates, with respect to decisions on transit and water, a positive vote must have support from two-thirds of the CRP’s regional municipalities and a majority (50 per cent plus one person) of the region’s population.
“I have a big concern with that, Calgary is always going to hold the hammer,” said Chapman.
“They’ll always be holding the population veto and the way that it’s worded, it sounds like if Calgary doesn’t want to play, it’s not going to go through.”
Williamson agreed with Chapman, saying Calgary does hold a population veto but said it was the most democratic process to make decisions on the CMP.
“Even though they have a population veto, we do have a membership veto,” said Williamson.
“When you talk to Calgary, they recognize that because you need a two-thirds vote, small communities like Irricana have a veto, if you get enough of the small communities opposing Calgary, they can veto as well.”
Alderman Allan Hunter had concerns with the CRP structure and the provision of resources like water and wastewater as well.
“I don’t see how this can be called a voluntary organization, when you’re saying if you want to use of our resources, you have to be a member,” said Hunter.
Mayor Peter Brown said Airdrie has been respectful of the plans and mandates that have been put together by the CRP and in the CMP but does not stand in support of the latest items that will be brought to the table on May 15.
“I can’t support the decision-making process with respect to water and wastewater,” said Brown.
“Airdrie spends $13 million on water (a year) and that’s something that we could’ve been sharing with Rocky View County.”
The County opted out of the CRP in 2009, exempting it from using Calgary wastewater services.
“RVC is not a member (of CRP) so that’s not an option for us, if they want Calgary water they have to be a member of the CRP,” said Brown. “I don’t see how that is a CRP decision when it’s Calgary who has the final say of whether or not they’ll provide this service.”
Voting on the regional decision items will be held during a CRP meeting on May 15. Brown said Airdrie will be voting in opposition. Mayors of the member municipalities sit on the CRP board as voting members.
Members of Airdrie City council voting in favour of the decision items were Alderman Candice Kolson, Alderman Fred Burley and Alderman Kelly Hegg.
Kolson said that she was, “disheartened by the decision,” especially after the work put in by City staff to review and recommend the amendments.
“Our council and staff were all part of creating the CMP and we have our two senior-most members of council (Burley and Hegg) voting in favour of the amendments,” said Kolson.
“I understand the necessity for these amendments and they’re what members of the CRP had been asking for. The great thing about municipal government though is that we have a variety of different opinions and perspectives and that’s what decision making is all about so I have to respect the decision of council.”
Alderman Darrell Belyk was the fourth member of council who voted against the motion.