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Plan It, round 2: The most important decision facing Calgarians

By DJ Kelly September 24, 2009

Next week is a BIG week in Calgary. As Naheed Nenshi correctly states in his Calgary Herald op-ed today, “On Monday, Calgary city council makes a decision bigger and more important than all the other decisions it has made since being elected . . . combined.”

Plan It – the document that lays out how Calgary will grow for the next several decades – is coming back to council for a second reading.

Plan It has been the hard work of many years of public engagement, determined to define how Calgarians want to manage their city’s growth. In short it is all about the kind of city we want Calgary to be and how we will ensure it becomes that.

In June, after the final public hearings, council made about 100 suggested amendments to the proposed Plan It document and gave it first reading.

The city’s administration (the author of the document) went back to their desks and poured over the amendments to determine which were good ideas and strengthened the document, and which were poor ideas and weakened the document or contradicted other pieces of legislation. The results have been released here. But I’ll break it down for you a bit.

A summary of Administration’s recommendations are as follows:

That Council:
1. Receive for information Attachments 1 and 2, which summarize Administration’s response to key issues brought forward by Council in the proposed amendments to the MDP and CTP.

2. MDP Amendments:
a) Adopt Administration’s Recommended Amendments to the MDP (Bylaw 40M2009) as proposed in Attachment 3.
b) Receive for information Attachment 4, which lists suggested amendments to the MDP that are not recommended by Administration.
c) Receive for information Attachment 5, which contains red-lined pages for the entire MDP (based on amendments proposed in Attachment 3).
d) Amend Bylaw 24P2009 by deleting Section 4 in its entirety and substituting with “This Bylaw is effective February 1, 2010”.
e) Renumber and format the sections in the MDP (Bylaw 24P2009) required to account for the inclusion of all Council-approved amendments.
f) Give second and third reading to the proposed Bylaw 24P2009, as amended.

3. CTP Amendments:
a) Adopt Administration’s Recommended Amendments to the CTP by Resolution, as proposed in Attachment 6.
b) Receive for information Attachment 7, which lists suggested amendments to the CTP that are not recommended by Administration.
c) Receive for information Attachment 8, which contains red-lined pages for the entire CTP (based on amendments proposed in Attachment 6).
d) Renumber and format the sections in the CTP required to account for the inclusion of all Council-approved amendments.

4. Direct Administration to report to LPT no later than January 2010 with the terms of reference for a MDP/CTP Sustainment Committee, implementation program and an ongoing monitoring framework.

Okay. Now what about the attachments? What’s in those? Answer: a whole lot of reading that we all have to do. Here’s a summary about what attachement includes (all links are PDFs):

1. MDP Key Issues Summary
2. CTP Key Issues Summary
3. Administration Recommended Amendments to the MDP
4. List of Council-proposed MDP Amendments Not Recommended by Administration
5. Red-line Amendments of the MDP (as per Attachment 3)
6. Administration Recommended Amendments to the CTP
7. List of Council-proposed CTP Amendments Not Recommended by Administration
8. Red-line Amendments of the CTP (as per Attachment 6)

I encourage you to click on the links above and learn more about what Administration recommends including and not including. These are what will frame the discussion on Monday at Council. A discussion that WILL change the future of Calgary forever. If ever there were a time to know what your council is doing, this is it.

And we all have a lot of reading to do between now and then.

I’ll provide my comments here and to the Aldermen once I have read the documents. Please do the same.

The one thing that excites me is the 4th recommendation – the creation of a Plan It “Sustainment Committee”. The idea behind the goal of this group was laid out in my comments to council during the June public hearing. At the time I said to council, “It will have to be a living document… Personally I’m more concerned with the City’s track record of follow through on ambitious plans.” This was also the theme of the questions I was asked by Ald. McIver following my presentation. I then followed up with some more detail in a two part blog post on Alberta Venture’s Think Alberta blog the next day where I said:

The good news – or bad news as the case may be – is that the success of Plan It will fall directly on the shoulders of the City of Calgary and how the plan is implemented. Calgary City Council has done a very good job over the years looking down the road and helping set a vision for the city’s future in motion. Plan after policy after plan have been enacted, but clearly the citizens of Calgary feel unaffected for the most part by these plans and policies…

I’m glad the City is taking this seriously and I think a sustainment committee will be a great addition. After all, it is almost exactly the kind of “Citizen Response Team” my group at the first CivicCamp in April suggested was needed.

Administration has echoed mine and Ald. McIver’s concerns by stating:

Two of the issues raised by Council and stakeholders that apply to both the MDP and CTP are ongoing stakeholder engagement, and plans for implementation and monitoring.

The Draft Implementation Framework included with CPC Report M-2009-012 provided high-level actions The City will need to undertake in order to enable achievement of the Plan It Calgary goals and objectives. Some of these actions are already underway, and Administration is currently developing more detailed implementation plans. These plans will be complemented by an ongoing monitoring framework that will provide useful data to aid in growth and investment decisions. Both the implementation plans and ongoing monitoring framework will be brought forward to the Land Use Planning and Transportation (LPT) Standing Policy Committee no later than January, 2010.

Administration recognizes the critical role that external stakeholders will play in achieving the goals and objectives of Plan It Calgary. In order to facilitate effective communication between The City and stakeholders, Administration proposes the creation of a MDP/CTP Sustainment Committee. This committee would require a broader stakeholder group than the Advisory Committee for Plan It Calgary. Terms of reference for this committee will be developed in consultation with stakeholders, and will be submitted to LPT along with the implementation plans and monitoring framework by January, 2010.

That’s all for now, but I’m excited by the direction this is all heading. Time to go do some reading…

  • Adam C. Sieracki

    The elephant in the room here is that there is no need whatsoever for Calgary’s population to keep growing. The major driver of urban sprawl is mass immigration. We can not continue to bring in over a quarter million people per year and expect to NOT have to resort to more greenspace development. No amount of New Urbanist ‘smart growth’ can arrest this.

    As Ruby Dhalla’s Bill C-428 proves, things like keeping the pension system solvent never were the real reason for admitting over a quarter million people to Canada annually. The only sectors of the economy that need constant population growth are real estate specuators, the construction industry and banks. An influx of warm bodies is needed to justify housing and infrastructure (roads, schools) construction. Mass immigration-fuelled population growth causes urban sprawl, in turn meaning the loss of wild habitats, farmland (and increased food prices), as well as stress on freshwater supplies.

    Rather than debating pointless local ‘solutions’ like Plan It, environmentalists should put aside political correctness and tackle the underlying cause of urban sprawl: mass immigration and its attendant population growth. There should be a reduction of immigration to sustainable levels, as well as a Federal greenspace policy, with an absolute moratorium on greenspace development, or use of agricultural land for housing.

  • Adam C. Sieracki

    The elephant in the room here is that there is no need whatsoever for Calgary’s population to keep growing. The major driver of urban sprawl is mass immigration. We can not continue to bring in over a quarter million people per year and expect to NOT have to resort to more greenspace development. No amount of New Urbanist ‘smart growth’ can arrest this.

    As Ruby Dhalla’s Bill C-428 proves, things like keeping the pension system solvent never were the real reason for admitting over a quarter million people to Canada annually. The only sectors of the economy that need constant population growth are real estate specuators, the construction industry and banks. An influx of warm bodies is needed to justify housing and infrastructure (roads, schools) construction. Mass immigration-fuelled population growth causes urban sprawl, in turn meaning the loss of wild habitats, farmland (and increased food prices), as well as stress on freshwater supplies.

    Rather than debating pointless local ‘solutions’ like Plan It, environmentalists should put aside political correctness and tackle the underlying cause of urban sprawl: mass immigration and its attendant population growth. There should be a reduction of immigration to sustainable levels, as well as a Federal greenspace policy, with an absolute moratorium on greenspace development, or use of agricultural land for housing.