The provincial Municipal Government Board ruled in favour of Rocky View County May 10 in the dispute between the county and Chestermere over the Conrich Area Structure Plan (ASP).
“We were disheartened with the MGB’s decision because it doesn’t address any of the detrimental impacts the ASP has on Chestermere and surrounding communities,” said Chestermere Mayor Patricia Matthews.
She said that in their appeal, the city had detailed several regional risks that would have a detrimental effective on Chestermere.
“In the appeal, we outlined serious regional risks to wetlands and stormwater, transportation, social support and economic development,” said Matthews.
Although Chestermere respects the decision of the board, Matthews said that “we will continue to work diligently to protect the best interests of Chestermere residents.”
“While we don’t agree with the Municipal Government Board’s decision, we’re proud of the case we put forward to support Chestermere’s residents and good regional planning,” said Matthews.
With the decision, Rocky View County can proceed with the developments in the Conrich region as originally planned.
“We’re pleased, but not surprised by the ruling,” says Rocky View County Reeve Greg Boehlke. “All along we’ve maintained that our plans are detailed, sound, and respectful of our neighbouring municipalities.”
The appeal process has led to strained relations between the county and city.
In the press release Reeve Boehlke accused Chestermere of being a bad neighbour in dealing with this process.
“I’ll be blunt in saying that if Chestermere had behaved like a good neighbour and worked with us we could have avoided this whole exercise.
“All that money and time spent by both municipalities could have been used for roads, policing, fire protection, recreation, and other important projects,” said Boehlke.
The County estimates that it cost $500,000 to defend the ASP against the appeal and said that the City of Chestermere would have also incurred significant costs in the appeal.
Mayor Matthews rejects the accusation that Chestermere has been pursuing policies in bad faith saying that the city believes in a regional approach to development.
“The City has always believed a regional approach to development is necessary and has actively pursued collaboration with Rocky View for many years.
“We have been working on an Inter-municipal Development Plan since 2010 to establish a ‘good neighbour’ agreement, which was Chestermere’s primary focus and request throughout this appeal,” she said.
Both parties have indicated their desire to repair the relationship.
“Rocky View County will be reaching out to Chestermere to start rebuilding our relationship. Although this MGB ruling is a clear victory for the County, we still maintain our values and believe in working together for success,” said Boehlke.
Matthews said that Chestermere is active in the Calgary Regional Partnership and takes a regional approach to planning.
“While we haven’t seen participation from Rocky View County in the past, we are glad to know that they are now open to such collaboration,” she said.
“We look forward to the spirit of cooperation Rocky View County is now offering in order to find mutually beneficial commercial development solutions that don’t burden our residents or sacrifice our community’s well-being,” said Matthews.
“We have businesses actively interested in our industrial park, so we will pursue those leads to ensure that area is successful while still soliciting feedback from our neighbours as we do so, as is our regular practice,” she said.
The appeal and subsequent deliberations by the Municipal Government Board on the ASP has lasted more than a year.