Calgary city council remains part of new community approval process amid changes

via Global News by Adam MacVicar

Calgary city council has made several changes to the way new neighbourhoods are approved, but removing city councillors entirely from the process wasn’t one of them.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek floated the idea in July as part of a proposal to “depoliticize” the process of approving new communities by allowing administration to take on that work and judge the business cases on a set of criteria.

“My goal was to get to a point where council was comfortable enough with the process and administration’s experience to make a sound decision on where we should grow and that council should be out of that decision,” Gondek told reporters Tuesday.

City council discussed Gondek’s motion on Tuesday to formalize a business case review process that looks at operating and capital costs, as well as financial, environmental and social implications.

However, some councillors were opposed to the idea of removing council from the decision-making process around new communities.

Ward 9 Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra said spending decisions on growth are part of council’s “core responsibilities.”

“We have to make difficult choices and I, for one, want to live in a world where those difficult choices are ultimately made by elected representatives who are informed by as robust and as public a debate as possible,” Carra said.

Under the current process, developers submit business cases for new communities at the same time to administration, who then makes recommendations to city council for approval.

But city council doesn’t necessarily have to follow those recommendations and could approve more community developments than administration recommended.

After several hours of debate, city council voted 14-1 in favour of tweaking the approvals process, with Carra the sole councillor opposed.

Under the changes approved by council, administration will evaluate the business cases as they come for