Straight Talk on bremner from rod

Rod Answers Your Questions on Bremner

Question: Can Bremner be reversed? If so, how? Some say it is a “done deal.”

Answer: Yes, Bremner can be reversed.

After October 16 the new County Council, with five votes, can decide to strike down the bylaw approving it and/or not approve financing of infrastructure and other costs associated with Bremner.

The people will decide Bremner by voting in five members of Council who will vote it down.

[History and status of Bremner: In October, 2016 County Council voted to approve Bremner as a growth area (technically Urban Service Area of the County, bylaw 15 - 2016. But I will speak in plain English, not jargon.). The Capital Region Board (CRB) (soon to be named the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board) had deemed in July of 2016 that bylaw to be in conformance with the regional Growth Plan.]

Question: Why reverse Bremner, haven’t we talked about this long enough?

Answer: I agree, it has been a long discussion.

But it’s a bad deal for the taxpayer and wastes farmland.
Bremner costs $1.38 billion more for infrastructure than alternatives; and uses No 1 and No 2 rich, dark soil, the best for growing.

The current Council made a mistake in approving it – even the current Mayor agrees. As reported in the SP News on September 26 regarding Bremner: “Incumbent Mayor Roxanne Carr ensured the audience that she felt Bremner was the wrong choice.”

The Mayor said about the approval that it: “…was the worst day of my 10 years in politics.”

This is one mistake we can’t afford to continue though; the money will come out of Sherwood Park and County residents’ wallets to finance a new city you won’t benefit from.

The weight of the evidence is overwhelming that Bremner is not in the best interests of the people:

• Infrastructure $1.38 Billion more costly than options, by County’s own data.

• With no deals with the Province or private interests, massive long-term property debt for Sherwood Park and County residents to finance the build. Private interests do not have the resources to pay the upfront costs.

• Wastes Prime Farm Land – rich, black soil superior for growing.

• Sacrifices needed Sherwood Park infrastructure – traffic exchanges on Hwy 21, Courthouse, downtown Sherwood Park, etc.

• Ignores ability to densify/expand Sherwood Park/vicinity, and other existing hamlets.

• Gambles on unsupportable growth (currently at only 1.2%/year). Consider Fort McMurray’s boom-time plan went bust - $46.8 million spent expropriating, and then fell apart.

• Violates County’s Master Plan not to build on ag-land except as a last resort.

• Negative environmental impact on proposed residents of Bremner.

• Urban Sprawl – leapfrog city far from urban core.

• 7 Consultants/reviews since 2001 do not favour Bremner.

Question: Wouldn’t liability be created if Bremner does not go forward?

Answer: To be successful in litigation, there needs to be a case made against the County.

For example, cases can be based on breach of contract. If the County had entered into contracts with third parties, and reneged on its obligations by reversing Bremner, that could be a basis of liability.

The County has not, however, entered into any obligations with third parties over Bremner, certainly none that have been reported. In April of 2017 County Administration reported it had no agreements with the Province or private interests to allocate cost sharing for infrastructure – in their words “No legal agreements are in place”.

If there any agreements with third parties, the County needs to get its story straight and offer them up right now.

Another basis would be if the County commits a civil wrong. For example, if the County was abusing its power or authority in reversing Bremner. An example of this would be if the County was acting in bad faith – dishonestly, maliciously, or fraudulently against private interests.

On the contrary, however, Council has a duty to provide good government; to consider and promote the welfare and interests of the municipality as a whole.

In the case of reviewing the Bremner decision, Council would be acting within its duties and powers and in the public good, and would not be committing a civil wrong. The leading case is Hartel Holding v Calgary City Council, Supreme Court of Canada, 1984 – that is the law of the land.

The weight of the evidence is overwhelming that Bremner is not in the best interests of the people (see above).

Without a basis in contract or a civil wrong, litigation would fail – and smart money will not waste time and resources on frivolous lawsuits.

Question: Isn’t it a lot of work to revise our County Plan, and have the Capital Region Board (CRB) approve it again?

Answer: Agreed, it is a lot of work.

And I am up for it.

Why? Because the alternative would be to stick with a decision that is not in the best interests of the people.

The Municipal Development Plan (MDP) is the County’s plan for growth. It sets out a vision for development. But MDPs are not static, they grow and change over time; they need to be updated.

I had a CRB briefing on September 26th.

The CRB manages the Growth Plan and the Evaluation Framework for the region; but we are an autonomous municipality charged with making decisions in our own best interests.

Agreed, it will be a lot of work in dealing with the CRB and a revised MDP. But that can’t be the reason to keep a demonstrably unhelpful decision like Bremner.

In any event, it is the CRB’s job to handle these matters. Others have problems too – for example, recently, Beaumont submitted two MDPs inside three weeks. The CRB is set up to handle revised MDPs.

It should also be noted there is no approved Bremner Area Concept Plan (ACP) done by the County. An ACP is a planning document used by the County to guide private interests and for zoning. Without an ACP Bremner is not a done deal.

Question: How about the County’s reputation with private interests, won’t those parties interested in Bremner be upset?

Answer: We want businesses to be successful, it grows our economy and raises our standard of living.In fact, the first two planks of my platform speak to certainty for businesses and individuals, and making it easier to do business in the County (see:

County Council is compelled, at the same time, to make its decisions in the public interest – for the good of the municipality. Council’s role is not to backstop high risk real estate transactions.

Council’s ultimate concern needs to be focused on explaining the development to the people – why wasting prime farm land and asking the taxpayer to finance a 1.38 billion dollar hit makes sense.

And with respect, while I welcome brainstorming, the idea of making Bremner an “agrihood” does not cut the mustard for me. The concept is not defined and is uncertain. In any event, we already have the farmland – we don’t finance $1.38 billion to build something we already have. Further, spending $1.35 to collect $1 in tax revenue makes no economic sense.

Question: Doesn’t the current Bremner bylaw protect the balance of the Bremner lands?

Answer: See the Council Meeting webcast of March 22, 2016.

The Mayor admits that once there is partial approval of Bremner, development will surely follow for the balance. 

Urbanization and dense development will not stand for agricultural lands next door – smell, manure spreading, and farming equipment will not be tolerated by a new city.

Ladies and gentlemen thank-you for your questions - in the words of Jack Michaels, the pleasure has been all mine.

On October 16, 2017 Get Out and Vote Rod to save our farmlands and keep a lid on your taxes.