Calgary City Council wrestles with long-term regional planning

Mayor Naheed Nenshi announces launch of 'YYC Matters' website ahead of federal election.
Mayor Naheed Nenshi announces launch of 'YYC Matters' website ahead of federal election. Global News

Growth in the Calgary region will occur much differently in the future than it has in the past. That was the message from Mayor Naheed Nenshi as city council held a strategic session on regional planning on Monday.

Historically, Calgary grew through annexation. However, projections show that by 2076 the region’s population will be 3,000,000 and 20 per cent of residents will live outside the city limits.

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“Regional planning, although it sounds a bit dry, is critical,” Nenshi said Monday, adding tough questions need to be answered.

“How do we grow, where do we grow and how do we ensure that growth is sensitive to our water needs and our land needs?”

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The mayor told members of council that there will be water shortages in the Calgary region by 2036 and growth must be done in a thoughtful way to optimize the use of water.

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A plan is being developed by the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB), but at least one Calgary councillor isn’t happy.

“My concern has been and continues to be that the CMRB leadership is not interested in taking economic collaboration and economic development seriously,” said Ward 3 Councillor Jyoti Gondek.

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Gondek’s Ward 3 is bordered by Rocky View County.

“Unless their leadership moves to include economic collaboration and development as part of their mandate, I’m not on board with being party to something that’s only looking at servicing agreements without looking at the economic impacts.”

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Gondek believes the interests of the region aren’t at the forefront of some of the planning decisions that have been made.

“What’s good for one jurisdiction is good for the region and it’s ultimately good for the province. And, yes that’s true, but not if one jurisdiction is eating the other one’s lunch,” Gondek said

“If you look at how much we have lost in terms of industrial business and how much we continue to lose over to the logistics area near Cross Iron Mills, you can’t keep on doing that”

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Gondek said unless there are changes, she’d like Calgary to pull out of the CMRB. However, Gondek admits that will be tricky since the NDP government made participation in the board mandatory.