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Municipal board to keep working as UCP review goes on

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A bid to stop the work of a regional planning board because of the coronavirus crisis has been shot down, as a government review into their work continues.

Members of a Calgary Metropolitan Region Board committee voted 6-3 Thursday morning to keep their operations ongoing.

The move comes after a $3-billion development west of Calgary was shelved last month, with operators partly blaming the NDP-formed committee as just another layer of bureaucracy they have to go through.

Greg Boehlke, of Rocky View County, brought forward the motion for the CMRB to cease operations until the pandemic has ended saying “there are more important issues.”

He said the continued operation of the board during the pandemic was “a vulgar display of using taxpayer dollars.”

But Calgary Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra was against the motion saying it was important “to keep staff working.

“Some work must go forward. Some work must be changed. Some work must be delayed,” he said.

Bill Robertson, the mayor of Okotoks, argued in favour of the motion, saying the board must be “as prudent as possible with taxpayer dollars.”

In a letter, Western Securities (WS) – the backers of the $3-billion Gardner project off Hwy. 8 – told the Jason Kenney government the CMRB was one of the reasons they were shuttering the project. They had been working on the proposal for 16 years.

“At every turn, Calgary has blocked or bullied Rocky View County from approving the project.  This after us spending millions of dollars on planning and engineering studies.  And now, the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board, with Calgary directing regional planning decisions, is the last straw for Western.,” WS President Ryan O’Connor wrote in the letter obtained by the Western Standard.

The project would have seen mixed use residential / commercial development with over 2,000 homes and approximately 300,000 sq.ft. of retail / commercial development, seniors housing and a sports centre. 

Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Kaycee Madu is looking into the CMRB’s actions.

When asked by the Western Standard if the government had any plans to scrap the CMRB, Municipal Affairs spokesman Tim Gerwing replied: “The Minister is currently reviewing the efficacy of Growth Management Boards in Alberta and all options are on the table.”

Sources have told the Western Standard other projects around Calgary are also now in jeopardy because of the excessive red tape.

“We are very concerned about reports of Growth Management Boards hindering responsible economic development in our province. The Minister is considering this in his review,” said Gerwing, adding the 16 years it took WS to get to this stage as “an overly-long timeline for development.

“The government is working extremely hard to eliminate red tape and pass policies that inspire investment and job-creation in our province. Municipal Affairs, in particular, has been a leader in red tape reduction within government. The Minister is reviewing Growth Management Boards to see whether they align with the government’s goals and will have more to say on this soon” said Gerwing.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: @Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Bigots deface French signs in historic Calgary neighbourhood

Located in the community of Rouleauville, also known as Mission, the stop signs also contained the French word ‘Arret’, French for halt.

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Bilingual signs in a historic Calgary neighbourhood have been defaced, with French words being spray-painted out.

Located in the community of Rouleauville, now known as Mission, the stop signs also contained the French word ‘Arret’, French for halt.

But vandals have recently gone through the community with black spray-paint and covered up the French part.

“Oh look: Calgary’s bigots have been busy -erasing one tiny French word. Come on guys, we’re a better city than this! #frab ⁦@cityofcalgary⁩ ⁦@nenshi,” Sheila Risbud tweeted.

Defaced signs

Leela Sharon Aheer, Alberta’s Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Status of Women, responded with disgust.

“These actions have no place in our province and must be condemned. Our government values the role of Franco-Albertans and is committed to ensuring the French language and culture flourish in Alberta,” she tweeted.

Rouleauville, now Mission, was originally named for Charles and Edward Rouleau — brothers who moved to Calgary from Quebec in the late 1800s.

The village had been founded by French Canadian priests. 

In 1907, when the village was annexed by the Calgary its French street names were replaced with the current numbered street system.

Council voted in June to add French to the signs.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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UCP hires fired federal Tory official as new executive director

Dustin van Vugt was fired in December after the federal Conservative party’s fundraising arm (the Fund) launched an internal audit into how the party handles expenses.

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The Alberta United Conservative Party has a new executive director – the man fired over the Andrew Scheer private school controversy.

Dustin van Vugt was fired in December after the federal Conservative party’s fundraising arm (the Fund) launched an internal audit into how the party handles expenses.

van Vugt was the executive director of the Fund.

The firing came less than 24 hours after Global News reported that Conservative leader Scheer was using Fund money to send his children to private school, an arrangement van Vugt took responsibility for.

In a statement, van Vugt described the arrangement as “normal practice for political parties” and said “all proper procedures were followed and signed off on by the appropriate people.”

The seven-person board, which included former prime minister Stephen Harper, were furious over the arrangement, Global reported at the time.

Other Tories said van Vugt was being made a scapegoat.

Van Vugt replaces Brad Tennant, who left the job to become a vice-president at the lobbying firm Wellington Advocacy. 

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Biden again vows to shutdown KXL pipeline calling Alberta oil ‘tar sands’

“I’ve been against Keystone from the beginning. It is tar sands that we don’t need — that in fact is very, very high pollutant,” Joe Biden said in an interview on CNBC.

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Likely U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden trashed the Alberta oil industry Friday and again vowed to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline expansion project.

“I’ve been against Keystone from the beginning. It is tar sands that we don’t need — that in fact is very, very high pollutant,” Biden said in an interview on CNBC.

“We’re gonna transition gradually to get to a clean economy.

“But the idea of shutting down Keystone, as if that is the thing that keeps the oil industry moving, is just not rational. It does not economically, nor, in my view, environmentally, make any sense.”

Biden was repeated statements made earlier this week by a campaign official that drew the ire of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

Kenney noted the pipeline is part of “sensitive” Canada-U.S. relations and he would “hate to see thousands of miles of pipe pulled out of the ground” if Biden revokes the permit.

Kenney said he was “disappointed” in Biden’s stand and said Alberta officials hope to work with his campaign on the issue.

“It is supported by Americans and all the governors along the pipeline route,” said Kenney.

“KXL would guarantee North America energy independence.”

Kenney announced in April his government was providing $1.5 billion in equity investment and a $6-billion loan guarantee to TC Energy to get the Keystone XL project completed but so far no details have been publicly released. 

After the project is completed, Kenney said the government would sell its shares back to TC Energy but he did not say at what price.

Kenney said while the $1.5-billion has been used to put thousands of people back to work, the $6-billion part of the deal remains untouched.

The premier noted the cross border section of the pipeline has been completed and without the government’s $1.5 billion, work “wouldn’t have been able to start this year.”

He said the remainder of the money would be for the 2021 construction season which TC Energy won’t make a decision on until next January.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi called the Biden news “terrible”.

He noted TC Energy has had many stop-and-gos in the process and “it would be ridiculous to revoke the permit at this time.

“There has been an enormous amount of work gone into the project… and it fits into Canada’s climate goals,” said Nenshi.

If it is stopped “I would feel very disappointed…it feels very late in the game now,” Nenshi said.

 In 2015, Biden was then vice-president to Barack Obama who cancelled the permit.

“It’s still the right decision now. In fact, it’s even more important today,” Stef Feldman told the CBC Monday.

“Biden strongly opposed the Keystone pipeline in the last administration, stood alongside President Obama and Secretary [of State John] Kerry to reject it in 2015, and will proudly stand in the Roosevelt Room again as president and stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit.”

When he was elected, Trump overruled the Obama decision and approved the oft-delayed pipeline for construction.

Environmental groups in the States have fought tooth-and-nail in an effort to stop the pipeline.

A judge in Montana put a halt to further construction of the pipeline over concerns of what effects the project may have on endangered species.

The federal judge ordered the U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers to conduct a further review and barred it from authorizing dredging in waterways covered by the permit.

The Keystone pipeline runs from Alberta to refineries in Illinois and Texas.

The new pipeline would run from Hardisty, Alberta to Steele City, Nebraska.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

TWITTER: Twitter.com/nobby7694

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