Despite a cloud of division hanging over Rocky View County (RVC) council for much of the year, Reeve Greg Boehlke believes 2019 has generally been good for both council and the County.
“The world knows that there’s been little controversies here and there, big controversies here and there, but I believe we’re on the right track, in spite of things that happened,” he said.
According to Boehlke, 2019 has been a year of building on previous changes and taking steps to position the municipality for more anticipated changes in 2020. He noted RVC is now a year into the tenure of Chief Administrative Officer Al Hoggan, as well as a corporate restructuring.
“We are very happy with the performance of the CAO,” he said. “He’s been a breath of fresh air, and he’s been outwardly visible. We haven’t had that before.”
This year saw a number of new undertakings by council, Boehlke said. Foremost among them was the decision to revisit the County Plan and create a new Municipal Development Plan (MDP) to replace it.
“I know there was a lot of controversy when we did it from a couple groups that thought, ‘It’s only seven years old,’” he said. “Well, look at what’s changed in our world in seven years. It’s been astronomical what’s gone on in our little region in seven years, so we definitely needed to update it and become more, I think, organized in what we’re doing with development and the kind of development we want and where we want it.”
2019 also saw the adoption of a new County-wide recreation model, disbanding previously-existing regional recreation boards in favour of a committee comprising council that considers the County as a whole.
Boehlke also praised the municipality’s ability to keep tax rates low for both residents and businesses.
Throughout the year, much of council’s business was overshadowed by the sanctioning of Couns. Kevin Hanson, Crystal Kissel and Samanntha Wright, and divisions among councillors that appeared to stem from that action. Boehlke acknowledge this consumed a lot of attention, but preferred to focus on the positive things that have occurred in the County in 2019.
“I don’t think anybody came on council thinking, ‘Boy, I hope we can have a year of discord amongst council,’” he said.
There are always opportunities for council to change for the better, Boehlke said, adding all councillors should try to eliminate disparaging remarks, off-topic tangents and heated exchanges from meetings.
“Instead of worrying about…making ourselves look good and our colleagues look bad, we’ve got to come [to council] and try to make the best thing happen that we can for the residents of RVC, because those are the people we work for,” he said.
“I think some of the behaviour – and I’ll take blame for some of it – some of the behaviour of council this year has been embarrassing, and it should be embarrassing to any one of us,” Boehlke added.
However, he noted he feels there is a hunger on council’s part to set differences aside and move ahead.
Boehlke said he’s excited – and hopes residents are, as well – for some of the changes in the pipe for the coming year. 2020 should see the completion of a new MDP and changes to the Land Use Bylaw, and could see the County’s electoral boundaries change, along with a new designation as a Specialized Municipality.
“All in all, I am really going to focus, this year, on being as positive as I can,” he said.