A vote at a Calgary Metropolitan Regional Board meeting today (May 21) has confirmed the fear that Calgary is calling all the shots.
On what Rocky View County Reeve Dan Henn calls an arbitrary country cluster matter, Calgary played its trump card to defeat the motion. Only Cochrane sided with the city; all eight other municipalities favoured the amendment.
The vote came the same day that the CMRB approved sending its draft growth and servicing plans to Alberta Municipal Affairs for review.
Rocky View County Reeve Dan Henn says the motion centred upon a request by Foothills County for some minor changes. It was debated, some points were agreed upon, others were not.
Rocky View County put the points agreed upon into a motion that was defeated.
"The vote could have been 9-1, but as long as Calgary votes against it, the motion dies," says RVC Reeve Dan Henn.
"Really, I don't understand why we have a board at this point. Why is there a Calgary Metropolitan Region Board, because it seems the way things are going, this thing isn't about the region, it's about what Calgary wants."
"For lack of a better word or term, Calgary has become the king, democracy is gone, and it's just not a good deal for the region."
He says this same thing could easily happen, whether you're a rural or urban municipality.
"They should all be very, very concerned. The fact that Calgary has that power and is willing to use it in what I might almost call an arbitrary matter just shows that they're not going to save it for really impactful decisions. They're just going to use it on a whim, or so it seems."
"And, I'll be honest, I think as far as urban municipalities are concerned, Cochrane should probably be the most concerned."
RVC Division 2 Councillor Kim McKylor is appalled at what happened today. She said there are times this might make sense, but this isn't one of them.
"If it's simply about, 'I can outvote you because I have 1.3 million people, I'm more important than you' when eighty per cent of the board members thought the changes were just fine, I just don't know where our democracy is. This is not democracy, not my definition of democracy, anyway."
"I think municipalities, like Cochrane, Airdrie, and Okotoks should look at that, and they should say, 'This could happen to me,' and it will happen to them."
Reeve Henn says RVC has expressed concern over the voting structure to the last three Municipal Affairs ministers. All three have ignored their concerns.
"Rocky View and everyone involved in this board believe in good planning," says Henn. "The consultant we've hired has actually commented on several occasions that this region is not in peril, and we've done sound planning in the region."
Reeve Henn says preparing the plan has been expensive for both the province and municipalities, but it will pale compared to the economic development opportunities being tossed out the window.
"This region is going to lose millions and arguably billions of dollars because of the uncertainty this board is creating. It's money being wasted, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to the amount of money that developers are not going to spend in the region."
Henn says now the only hope of preventing this plan from coming into effect lies upon the shoulders of Municipal Affairs minister Ric McIver.