With rapid growth being experienced throughout the Calgary region, Mayor Jeff Gemung believes water licensing has surfaced at the top of about four priorities of communities in the Calgary area.

Mayor Jeff Genung, Cochrane's representative on the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB), says the moratorium on the South Saskatchewan River Basin put in place in 2006 is affecting all communities and a regional approach is being explored.

"We talked about it at our board meeting in Okotoks of having a unilateral water conservation program, basically, a regional approach to water licensing and making sure our region can continue to be successful."

He says the fact that the province recognizes the Bow River is over-subscribed has put communities in southern Alberta in a deficit. 

"I'm not arguing that they shouldn't have done that, it's just all of a sudden made "paper water", the license itself, a commodity. For Cochrane, for our future, we're talking $30-50 million to get a piece of paper to be able to access water from the river, and that's an issue the north of our province doesn't have."

He says he will be addressing the issue with provincial officials in upcoming meetings.

"If you're going to continue to advertise our province and have people move to Cochrane, we need help with the water license issue as well."

Independent of that, Cochrane is currently seeking approval for a water licence transfer from the Girl Guides of Canada, who hold a license for their 84-acres Camp Jubilee on the south bank of the Bow River. The town is going through the regulatory process of securing a permanent transfer of 4.4 million cubic metres of water.

"We're just going through the process with Alberta Environment," says Mayor Genung. "Not much to say publicly about it, other than we're waiting to see what the results are of our requests and we feel optimistic that we're going to be able to come to a conclusion here and take that off the table of barriers and concerns for our growing community."

In September, the town established a water licence connection fee for all new development to assist in covering the cost of additional water licences.

It ranges from $1,315 for a 3/4" water meter to $56,990 for a 6-inch meter and will be adjusted annually to take into account inflation.

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