Published in the Western Wheel on Feb. 9, 2011:

Dear Editor,

Truper McBride, the chair of the Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) is quoted in the Rocky View Weekly this week as saying that for members of the partnership, “residential development densities of between eight and 10 units per acre are non-negotiable.”

The former Mayor of Okotoks and council voted to honour the community survey results supporting sustainability, leading most people to believe the population cap was safe. Inexplicably, council then passed a contradictory motion joining the CRP, thereby agreeing to the densities McBride is talking about.

They did send a letter requesting some exemptions, citing residents’ concerns about the population cap and a strong desire to protect the town’s internationally renowned sustainability model.

In fact, the Okotoks request doesn’t seem to have been given any serious consideration by the Calgary Regional Partnership. Has the Town even received a response from the CRP to its letter requesting an exemption? This latest statement from McBride is not a surprise, just a reminder of what has always been the case.

When are the new mayor and town council going to come clean and admit to Okotokians that the population cap has already been thrown out by virtue of signing on to the Calgary Metropolitan Plan?

Voters in Okotoks should also hold the provincial government to account for this betrayal. The now infamous Bill 36, or the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, is what gives the government the power to overrule decisions by local municipalities as they relate to land use.

Ted Morton, now a candidate for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party, was one of the architects of the Land Stewardship Act. It’s rumoured he may run in the Highwood constituency.

This is the same act that has local landowners in an uproar over property rights. It’s not only large landowners affected by this fatally flawed piece of legislation, but the unsuspecting residents of Okotoks. While they weren’t looking, the previous administration compromised the very qualities that are most treasured by Okotokians — sustainability and living within our means.

Jody MacPherson

MD of Foothills

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