The Springbank Community Association (SCA) announced in its most recent newsletter the formation of a neighbourhood council consisting of representatives from across the acreage community in west Rocky View County.
The association is seeking to unify the voice of its residents with the “neighbourhood network” to better advocate for or lobby against various initiatives in the community at a governmental level, according to Karin Hunter, SCA president.
“We still have issues looming that are causing concerns amongst residents and projects that would improve our community,” read the September newsletter. “If we have a council of representatives, our voices will become more meaningful to [the County].”
Hunter said over the last few years, the association has recognized Springbank residents are not always provided adequate information from the County in order to keep abreast with changes in their community.
She added last year, the SCA worked alongside other community groups in Rocky View County (RVC) to request the municipality to update their policy on notifying community members of new developments or planning items within the communities.
According to Hunter, RVC denied their request to revisit the notification policy.
“We thought the next best thing for us to do was do our job and increase the notification across the community,” Hunter said in an interview. “One way we identified to do that was to find a representative in every neighbourhood across the greater Springbank area.”
She said due to the rural location of the community, Springbank has streets with homes that wouldn’t be deemed a traditional neighbourhood, but still deserve representation.
“We’ve been trying to grow this contact throughout the greater area so we would be able to disseminate information to those people who then could share it within their own streets or communities or cul de sacs within Springbank,” she said.
The intention of the council, Hunter added, is to ensure people are receiving information more effectively because they are not able to receive it from RVC directly.
“We’re acting as that conduit, so to speak, to make sure people get information,” she said.
The association president said another factor to the formation of the neighbourhood council is the need to get information back from community members in the form of feedback on various initiatives in the community.
“Once we get this network established, we’ll be able to use it to submit surveys to the community, whether it’s on RVC events or maybe our associations – we can get feedback from the community in return,” she said.
Hunter added this new network should help the SCA make better planning decisions to in turn help RVC receive better public feedback and engagement from the community to improve on their planning decisions.
“Hopefully the long-term outcome of this is that everybody is making more informed and educated decisions and the community is engaged and aware of what’s happening in the area,” she said.
So far, the association has been garnering members via word of mouth and social media.
The SCA's newsletter stated the organization is searching for neighbourhood representatives that have a “strong communication network” to help bring further consensus on a variety of issues facing Springbank residents.
“Quite often, [residents] know who their community leader is in terms of getting information to their own community, so we are working to isolate all those people, but we still have some gaps,” she added
Hunter said she isn’t worried about filling the spots on the council, as she is confident the association will be able to fill those gaps over time. She added in the last few years, residents have voiced an interest in providing their feedback on what’s happening in their communities.
She added RVC hasn’t always been open to their feedback, such as with the Coach Creek development project, a mix of residential and large-scale commercial development in Springbank.
“The project was approved by the County even though they received 400 letters or so in opposition,” she said. “And so, we thought, by allowing people the opportunity to have information earlier and then mobilize, if necessary, that you have a much stronger community voice.
“Being able to have a voice, I think you have generally a degree of consensus on certain items that you can take to the County that should be quite powerful.”
She said her hope is with a unified voice, the County will be less able to dismiss the feedback they receive from residents through letters.
“We’re hoping there is power in a broader group of voices coming together and we’re hoping that overall, you can get some degree of unity on some important issues facing the greater Springbank area,” she said.
“Our goal is not to push our own agenda as a community association. In fact, our goal is to represent the community. We really are hoping the community can come to some degree of consensus on issues that will then be of a more powerful view to take forward to the County.”
She said already a long list of representatives have been put forward, adding Springbank is a “really big community” that so far has not had proper representation.
An example of a recent issue being faced by the community is the use of the SR-1 lands that affect a large portion of Springbank residents, according to Hunter.
“There are some very strategic issues facing the community that we need to educate the community on, and receive feedback on,” she said.
“If we can mobilize this neighbourhood network then that would be great because that’s something that can be a powerful source of communication to the County and to the Province.”
The association president said the neighbourhood council is having its first meeting on Oct. 5 at Springbank Links golf course. Those interested in getting involved with Springbank’s neighbourhood council are encouraged to contact [email protected]