Cochrane Sustainability Plan

Specifically about local sustainability issues/topics in Cochrane, Alberta.

Time to Vote.

Well, it’s getting to that season in Cochrane. Voting season. Time to establish a new council and mayor into the role of steering this dynamic and growing community. In an effort to help people access relevant information on all the candidates, I’ve compiled them here (with links to their websites/Facebook pages where possible). And yes, another long blog post, with lots of words.

And because I’m not a newspaper, I do get to make endorsements. Keep in mind these are my opinions and as such don’t represent anyone else.

Let’s start with the candidates for Mayor.

Keep in mind that although I’m ranking them, they ALL have a shared love for this community and would in all likelihood do well in the job.

My Pick: Joann Churchill. Solid track record on council, very engaged citizen, strong view of a sustainable Cochrane. A few miss-steps over the years on a couple of issues, but she’s learnt from them and carried on well.

Close second: David Smith. A bit of a dark horse coming into this election, he’s got a great platform, a solid support base and a view of the town and issues that seems to align well with reality. He’s talking about some issues that no one else has, and he wants to expand the Cochrane Sustainability Plan to include targets on sewer and energy reduction for transportation. Awesome stuff.

Third: Ivan Brooker. Having served two terms as a councillor, Ivan certainly has the experience on council to contend for the Mayor’s job. I’ve found myself disagreeing with numerous ways that he’s voted on some key issues, so from a policy perspective I have a difficult time supporting him.

And the Councillor’s

There are 13 PEOPLE vying to be on council this term. Crazy. Similarly to the Mayoral candidates, it seems that people have a lot of passion for the community, which is great. My picks are going to be based on a balanced council, track records in the community, and platforms. The following 6 candidates are my pick;

Ross Watson. Thoughtful, articulate, genuine and informed. A top pick for sure.

Tara McFadden. Of all the current members of council, Tara has consistently done the best job of communicating what’s happening up at the RancheHouse. She’s active on social media platforms and sends out a great e-news update on council meetings (subscribe if you haven’t already). Another top pick.

Gaynor Levisky. She’s got a good platform focused on Environment, Parks and Rec and Protection/Safety. She also seems to be well grounded in the issues facing families, a large segment of the Cochrane population.

Jeff Toews. I know what you’re thinking…haven’t you blogged a lot about disagreeing with Jeff Toews on a lot of issues? Yes. I have. And I’ll probably continue to disagree with him on a number of issues. But this election isn’t about MY view of Cochrane, it’s about OUR view of Cochrane. And Jeff brings a different perspective to the table, and I feel that he’s done a lot of learning about the complexities of the issues over the past term, and he’ll continue to learn and grow in the role.

Steve Grossick. I don’t actually know Steve, but he’s got a Code of Ethics on his website. And experience with politics, business and volunteering in the community (including being the current President of the Cochrane and Area Victim Services Society). A solid choice.

And unfortunately that only leaves one more seat in my “slate”. And there are several candidates worthy of the spot, but my vote is for Kaitee Del Pra. Born and raised in Cochrane, and only 23 years old, what she might lack in political experience is made up for by the sheer fact that she’s running for council. I think she’d bring a much needed perspective to the table.

Of course, that leaves out some worthy people, and I’ll outline them here.

Jamie Kleinstuber. Active community member, strong environmental ethic. Supports transit. It’s actually really hard to see him not on my list above. Maybe we can have 7 councillors this time around?

Shana Bruder. A long time Cochrane resident, Shana’s also been actively involved in the community (including the Cochrane Foundation, the Community Awards and Light Up committees).

Morgan Nagel. Another representative from the “youth” division, Morgan has some strong political experience and a firm focus on the “small town, family feel”.

Dan Cunin. Has a comprehensive platform that includes some great initiatives. And he came out of the gate and announced his candidacy in JANUARY. Eager and passionate.

Marty Lee. All I could find this morning was his Facebook feed, and will admit to not knowing much about his platform and how it might differ from the rest of the candidates. Has been in Cochrane for 14 years, and seems to have been reasonably well involved throughout.

Mary Lou Davis. A Google search turned up no campaign information, so I wonder if she’s doing it the old fashioned way (door-knocking and coffee drinking). Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just makes it hard to pin down her stance on things when you’re writing a blog post. She did serve on council during a pretty controversial period of time (2004-07), where a lot of development decisions were being made that we’re just now feeling the repercussions of.

Jim Uffelmann. Jim has been a champion for increased public engagement on a variety of issues (namely transit and the dog park). He appears to be running on a “keep taxes low” platform. I’ve had numerous Facebook conversations with Jim where I ended up leaving the conversation due to the negative tone of it. That said, he’s running for council and is obviously passionate about a couple of community issues.

And there it is…my thoughts on the 16 people running for Town Council this go-around in Cochrane. Agree with me or not, get the heck out there and vote!

Advance polls: Cochrane RancheHouse. TODAY from 4-8pm, Friday from 4-8pm and Saturday from 10-4pm. Election day is Monday, October 21st and polls are open at various stations from 7AM to 8PM. Info here:

Rodeo Grounds

I forgot one of the apparently most sacred of cows in Cochrane these days, and that is the Lion’s Rodeo Grounds in Glenbow (just below the current pool/Boys & Girls Club/curling rink). There’s been a lot of interesting discussion about what should happen with that piece of property when the lease is up in 2019.

So here’s my thoughts.

First, we have a purpose built agricultural complex on the NW corner of town, with tons of parking, an indoor arena, a few different outdoor arenas/tracks and numerous other amenities. Does a town of 18,000 need two rodeo grounds?

Second, what’s the usage and economic impact of the rodeo grounds for Cochrane? I live in Glenbow so have a fairly good handle on how much it’s being used. Between Summer and Winterfest, the labor day rodeo and a few other events, it’d be generous to say that it’s utilized 6 weekends out of the year (aside from slow-pitch tournaments on the 2 fields). And I do understand that the Lions contribute greatly to this community (~4 million in the last 11 years), but my sense is that a good portion of that is raised at things other than the rodeo.

Third, given that the pool and curling rink are being relocated to Spray Lakes Leisure Center in the next couple of years, it’s safe to say the upper tier is going to need redevelopment. Is a rodeo ground that gets used sparingly the best use of that prime real estate? It’s tough to say.

Proponents say that it’s a very unique feature of a small town to have the rodeo right in the heart of the community. And I’m certainly not one to disagree on the cultural aspect of that argument.

Of course, as a taxpayer and someone generally interested in the fiscal sustainability of this community, it’s a hard stretch for me to see us not getting the maximum amount we can for that property, and allocating that money to some of the other big-ticket items that this rapidly growing community needs.

All nostalgia aside, it might be time to take a step back and look at the big picture on this one.

Cochrane’s Sacred Cows

Warning: This post is longer than most and contains a lot of words.

Well, we’re heading into the homestretch of the “silly season” in municipal politics, that time when the papers and facebook feeds are full of familiar promises. More amenities! Lower taxes! Small town feel! Transit! To name just a few.

So here’s my 2 cents on some of the “sacred cows” of the current municipal election, in no particular order of importance.

Aquatic Center and Curling Rink: Possibly one of the largest municipal projects ever attempted in this town, the 54 million dollar curling rink, aquatic center and associated upgrades is dominating the discussion. There seems to be general consensus that we NEED a pool, except for a few voices suggesting we show some restraint in times of economic uncertainty. Having just gone to the current pool this afternoon with my 2-year old I’m even more uncertain of this pressing need. 2$ Friday and the pool was WELL BELOW capacity. Like, we were the only ones in the hot tub for awhile.

Taxes: What would a municipal election be without promises to keep your taxes low? And would anyone be voted in on a “I’m going to raise your taxes” platform? Even though that’s pretty much an inevitable outcome? For once it’d be nice to see some honesty in a potential politician, something along the lines of “You say you want a bunch of shiny new amenities (aka a pool), but you don’t want your taxes to go up? Well, here’s your cake…feel free to eat it.”

Density: Not quite as prevalent in the conversation as the first two topics, but density is certainly flaring up in Airdrie, along with the connection to the Calgary Regional Partnership and the Calgary Metro Plan. It’s another sacred cow that needs to be examined closely. I would be highly questioning of anyone who suggests we can continue to build a bunch of single family homes with big lots and keep our taxes low. There are so many issues tied up in density targets that it’s tough to draw all the connecting dots for folks, but here’s a few;

  1. Density is more efficient. Less road, less sidewalk, less utility, less driving for the garbage truck. Theoretically less money required to service less infrastructure.
  2. Increasing density drives up the value of single family homes with big lots. Not a bad thing if you happen to be among the lucky folks who enjoy that luxury. Why pay a premium for a house with a big lot in Glenbow, when you can pay significantly less for a big house in Sunset, Fireside, Riversong, Heritage Hills, Heartland…etc.
  3. Dense developments are more affordable for young people. You know, the kinds of people that we might want to work in this town and have a family, and the ones who can’t afford those big houses right now.  They’re also the kinds of people that are going to work in those businesses that lease the 30,000sq ft in the new aquatic center…unlike the folks living in those big houses that have to drive to their job in the city to afford their mortgage in the small town!

Traffic: Ahhh…if only there was a system for moving large amounts of people quickly and efficiently on a network of roads and railways…wait….

Traffic is certainly an issue, and no, transit won’t fix it (but it certainly won’t hurt it). I’m sure there are people much smarter than I currently scratching their heads on what the hell to do about traffic in this town. Between terrible highway intersections, a railway that cuts through town, and a bunch of in/out access to large subdivisions…we’re pretty much screwed on the traffic front for the foreseeable future. Which is why I live in Glenbow, so that I can walk places. A good start would be some traffic circles…seriously. I spent a few months in New Zealand a few years ago and there were traffic circles everywhere. Way better for traffic flow than 4 way stops and signals.

Small town feel: That elusive, yet essential, quality that attracted so many of us to move to Cochrane in the first place. This might come as shocking news, but a small town feel is just that. A feeling. Whether you’re riding a bus, living in a new subdivision, swimming at a new pool or shopping for cheap plastic at Walmart, the only way to keep that “small town feel” alive and well is to act it out. Shop locally. Get to know your neighbors. Join (or start) a community association. Come out to the farmer’s market. Volunteer with a nonprofit. No town council or mayor has the power to turn you into a small town person, or to help a community keep that feeling. Sorry, this one’s up to you. Which, given how often politicians are able to keep their promises, is probably a good thing…

Local Economy: Again, this one’s being looked at by people much smarter and more in tune with economic development than I am. Certainly an 87% residential tax base isn’t very good, and we need to diversify our revenue streams. Here’s something to chew on… a lot of business owners were in favor of transit to and from Calgary. Why? Because there’s no labor market in Cochrane (or a very small one). Why? Because people who serve coffee and stock shelves can’t afford to live in this town. Why not? Because there’s a shortage of denser, affordable housing. Funny how all this is connected. And no, I don’t have any answers, other than people taking that small town feeling to heart and putting their money where their mouth is…shop local, preferably at small shops and at places that give back to the community.

There it is, the sacred cows as I see them. I have a feeling a few of them will be slaughtered shortly…it’ll be interesting to see which ones!

And stay tuned for some more in-depth analysis of various platforms, including my top picks for mayor and council, for whatever that’s worth to you.

The status quo

Status Quo

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to actually move systems in the direction that we want them to go. I’ve written previously about things like transit in Cochrane, so I’ll use that as an example.

First off, the diagram above shows my thinking around the “status quo”. Too often we think of it as a point in time, instead of the path through time that it really is. What we’ll have tomorrow is more of today, unless we do something different. Pretty straightforward.

I think what often stops those game-changing paradigm shifts in society is the sheer magnitude of the change, the large gap between the “status quo” and the “?” in the above diagram. But what if we didn’t have to make that huge leap tomorrow? What if instead we shifted in a smaller, more manageable way?

Take, for example, the proposed expansion of the Spray Lakes Family Leisure Centre here in Cochrane. Recently Town Council was presented with some initial reports that suggested a 54 million dollar price tag for a new pool and curling rink. I’ll save the obvious thoughts around “why we need more sheets of ice where people can chase rocks around and drink beer instead of just about any other project I can think of” for some other blog post.

Proposed rec center expansion

What caught my attention was the need to potentially construct up to one thousand more parking stalls to accomodate these new facilities. 1000 parking stalls.

Here’s a thought. Build a parkade on the Quarry (the old domtar site). Make it free parking. Charge a couple of bucks for parking at the leisure center. Run a free shuttle bus every 20 minutes back and forth from the Quarry to the leisure center.

What would that accomplish? First of all, we’d save some serious space down at the leisure center for things like grass (always nice to have) and further expansion of the facility. Second, all the merchants on the Quarry site would see a significant boost in traffic. Who wouldn’t grab a quart of milk and eggs at Sobey’s after running at the track? Or a coffee before they head down to watch the game? Third, it would be a great dip of the toe into the transit market. Try it for a year or two. Not working? Go ahead and build another thousand parking stalls.

Who knows, it might be the sort of small shift that leads to something altogether different than the “pave paradise, put up a parking lot” path we seem to be on.

Good to the last drop.

I had the privilege of attending a “Water Conversation” last night here in Cochrane. It brought together a range of interested folks (from normal citizens to town employees and businessman) to chat about 4 key areas related to water, and was facilitated by folks from WaterSmart. There was also representation from Alberta Energy and the Energy Resources Conservation Board (ERCB)…not surprising given that one of the areas under discussion was hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

I’m not going to be able to encapsulate the whole discussion, but a few interesting things popped out for me.

Water usage: Did you know the average Canadian uses 329 liters of water a day? (The average Albertan uses 350L). Compare this to places like France (150L/day) and Sweden (200L). Same, or better, standard of living…half the water consumption.

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Water cost: How much do those 350L cost you? The answer…not nearly enough.

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So what does this look like for Cochrane? Well, if you’ve been reading the Cochrane Sustainability Plan Progress Reports (which I know you have), you would have noticed that the 2011 average for Cochrane was 203L/person/day! This is thanks in large part to an innovative pricing scheme, where residents and businesses pay a tiered rate for water consumption, along with good educational programs.

For the first 25 cubic meters (25000L!), you pay 1.13/meter ($0.00113/L). For 26-60 cubic meters, you pay $1.51/1000L. Anything over 60,000L/month and you pay $2.25 per 1000L.  This tiered rate is in and of itself pretty innovative, but I argue that it’s still too cheap.

If the goal is to continue to reduce TOTAL water consumption (not just per/capita), then we’re going to have to take things to the next level. The flow of the Bow River doesn’t change, and Cochrane’s population is growing rapidly. This scenario will result in water scarcity issues, regardless of how efficiently we’re currently using water.

A couple of ideas:

  1. Make the first 40L/person/day FREE. Totally free. Water should be a right, just like the air we breathe. 40L should provide for drinking, cooking and basic sanitation. After 40L….charge the hell out of it. Triple or quadruple the current pricing scheme. Make me think about how much water I’m using, and give me an economic incentive to use less. At 1/10th of a cent per liter…I don’t even blink when I flush the toilet. And I drive a truck on vegetable oil.
  2. Create bylaws around grey water recycling. All the water that goes down the sink or the bathtub could be reused to flush toilets, or recycled and used for watering the garden. Using expensive, treated water for EVERYTHING is unsustainable.
  3. Develop a full-cost accounting structure for water, from intake to discharge. Include that price in the consumption of the commodity. Change the tiered structure so that the thresholds are much lower.

There were some interesting conversations around “private management” of water resources here in the province. A lot of us at the table were pretty leery of that idea, although business certainly has a track record of improving efficiency and getting products to markets in the leanest way possible. What about a social business or non profit? Someone tasked with managing the resource, but not standing to make a killing from it?

I highly recommend you get acquainted with what’s going on with water resources in this province, because it’s changing quickly. Check out the water conversation here (you have until FRIDAY APRIL 12th to contribute to the online survey).

Information? No thanks.

As Judy Stewart (a long time steward of all things environmental in Cochrane) put it recently, the silly season has begun. Unfortunately, it’s actually been around for quite some time around a few hot topics in town (namely transit).

Recently, there was a motion before Town Council here in Cochrane that read:

That Council directs administration to prepare and submit a Transit Implementation Plan to the Alberta Transportation Green TRIP incentives program to confirm capital funding approval.

Now, you would think that this sort of motion wouldn’t cause a lot of fuss, and seems like a logical step in a process that’s been running now for a couple of years. Namely because the Green TRIP funding for Cochrane has already been approved (to a total of 6.1 million dollars), and this request is merely asking for information from the province, on which future decisions could be made. (Read the recommendations here).

Of course, if you’re a counsellor who’s already made up your mind that Cochrane is too small for transit, then this information is irrelevant, maybe even inconvenient, for your unwavering opinion on the matter. It seems that Councillor’s Brooker and Toews aren’t just anti-transit, they also take issue with gathering information on the topic.

I’m not always certain of the qualities I like most in a politician, but a stubborn unwillingness to gather the appropriate information prior to making major decisions that have long term impacts on the growth of a community, certainly isn’t one of them.

Bring on the silly season.

Transit and Windmills and NIMBY’s (oh my!)

It’s been awhile since I weighed in on Cochrane’s controversial topics (currently transit and windmills). Let’s start with windmills.

Recently, there’s been a lot of chatter in the local papers about plans for a 5kW wind turbine that’s proposed for the Cochrane High School. For those that aren’t familiar with this school, they’ve been on the leading edge of sustainable development since 2000. A group of their students beat me out of an Alberta Emerald Award a few years ago (much deserved!). I’m not going to dive into the details of this ongoing drama, preferring instead to comment on a couple of things that come to mind.

First, there was a recent motion (by the mayor) at Town Council to develop an alternative energy framework for projects such as this. I think this is a splendid idea…so long as it’s sole focus isn’t on some minority groups definition of “unsightly”. There’s also talk of asking the high school to put their windmill project on hold until this framework is completed. I think that’s a terrible idea….unless we’re halting all development projects until the appropriate “framework” is in place. Trying to establish this framework at this time is going to encourage the NIMBY’s No Turbine’s in Town Coalition (NTTC) to direct their pent-up rage towards a document that is going to be around for a long time. The project should go in front of the Alberta Utilities Board for consideration, as the next step in due process for these students.

Diversifying our aging electricity grid with sustainable local energy production is critical.

Next up: Transit. Oh god. The issue that seemingly won’t go away, prompted in large part by one of the local papers. On page 2 of the Cochrane Eagle this week was a column with no fewer than 17 questions, disguised loosely as an editorial.

Is it a convenience for the few paid for by the many? Does it make sense for taxpayers to subsidize a bus service taking shoppers to another city?

I have a feeling those questions aren’t being asked out of curiosity.

Having followed the transit discussion for some time, it’s intriguing to me that the town is catching such flack over the issue (then again, I’m regularly intrigued by what get’s published sometimes…). Sure, they jumped out of the gate pretty hard off the bat, but since then they’ve taken feedback, slowed down the process, listened to people’s concerns and come back to the table with 3 very reasonable and affordable approaches to phasing in transit (an identified community need). What seems to be the issue at hand comes back to some very vocal people who disagree with the finding’s of a variety of robust Ipsos Reid polls and surveys, which concluded that there is general support of transit in the community.

Disagreeing with something doesn’t make it any less true….whether it’s a windmill or a bus.

Betting the Farm

What is Sustainable Development? According to the Bruntland Commission report “Our Common Future”, released in 1987, sustainable development is

the kind of development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Pretty simple concept no? Of course, it’s an extremely broad and ambiguous definition, but at the heart of it are a few key concepts;

  • The idea of needs, particularly those of the worlds poor (which should be given over-riding priority). Food before flatscreens.
  • The idea of limitations, particularly the limits of the environment to sustain the level of “needs” for a society.

There are many who would argue that “Sustainable Development” is a leftist, green agenda. If dreaming about the sustainable future of humanity, and the ability of my children and grandchildren (and maybe even great-grandchildren) to have a reasonable quality of life makes me a left leaning liberal with a green worldview, then so be it.  The alternative to that dream is pretty depressing.

Imagine for second that you live on a family farm, and it’s the only farm on the planet. You share it with your family, parents, grandparents, your spouse and your young children. One day your parents decide that they’ve worked awfully hard, and have a pretty comfortable life. They’re going to retire, leaving the farm to you.

Feeling celebratory, they decide on a feast.  They start to butcher the herd. The grain gets ground into flour. Barley turns into beer, grapes into wine. Normally they would have preserved a lot of the harvest for the long winter ahead, and set aside seed for next year’s planting. But to hell with it. There’s always been plenty of food, the farm has always provided…..

As the party rages over the weeks and months, over-indulgence sets in. It becomes the new normal. You forget about your earlier concerns for awhile, but there’s always something nagging at you. You start to worry that the seed bin is getting awfully low, and the herd is looking pretty thin. The laying hens have been slaughtered for last night’s dinner. Your parents laugh it off, claiming that there’s always been enough. They call you “an alarmist”. Your grandparents on the other hand, start to share in your worry. They remember leaner times when the farm struggled to produce enough for a family half the size. Your kids start to get a little anxious about their future, seeing the stress in their parent’s eyes.

I hope you’ve guessed by now that the farm is analogous to the planet, and the ‘family’ in this story is us, citizens of this planet.

Lately, there’ve been a few critics popping up in Cochrane, challenging the validity of the Cochrane Sustainability Plan (a 50 year vision for a sustainable community). Apparently goals such as “Treating Water as a Precious Resource” and having a “Healthy and Diverse Local Economy” don’t fit with these people’s vision of the future.

Alright then… what IS their vision for the future? Let the party rage all day and night? Drink every last drop, cut down every last tree, pollute every waterway, sell the herd…that works great until we discover that money can’t be eaten. I think the main problem is that they don’t actually understand what the concept of sustainability is, and how it ties into the future of their own children. Because if they did, if they understood that their actions today were limiting the options of their children in the future, well… I hope they’d pause and consider.

Of course, by then spring will have arrived… and we’ll have nothing left to plant.

Calgary Metropolitan Plan announced

I had the distinct privilege of being invited up to the Cochrane Ranchehouse this morning for the launch of the Calgary Regional Partnership’s Calgary Metropolitan Plan.

The Calgary Regional Partnership was formed in 1999 as a voluntary collaborative effort between 14 municipalities in the greater Calgary area (including the city of Calgary, of course). With a focus on preserving the natural environment and water resources, while fostering the region’s economic prosperity, this initiative has taken on the daunting task of managing the extraordinary growth in the area.

I’m going to take some time to digest the contents of the latest Metro plan (I’ll blog about it later), but in the meantime I encourage you to check out this overview video:

Now that you’re all intrigued about this fascinating topic of municipal development, go and check out the new site that outlines the CMP in a very well done, interactive and easy to digest style.

You might be asking yourself, why do I care? Well, if a “business as usual” growth pattern continues, there won’t be an “Okotoks” or a “Cochrane” as we know it. There will be the “Calgary Metro area”… a sprawling debacle of single family homes in cutely named subdivision after cutely named subdivision (last I checked, Tuscany was in Italy). I’m going to hunt around for some of the maps that I saw today and post them up. Concerning to say the least.

Of course, the business as usual growth pattern doesn’t have to hold true. Communities could embrace the following 4 principles of the CRP;

  1. Protecting the natural environment and watershed
  2. Fostering the region’s economic vitality
  3. Accommodating growth in more compact settlement patterns
  4. Integrating efficient regional infrastructure systems

And it’s one thing to embrace the principles, it’s entirely another to integrate them into decision making, and make the tough decisions now that lead to a different development path.

A final thought… Wainwright MLA Doug Griffith (currently the Minister of Municipal Affairs (@GriffMLA on twitter)) gave the CMP a glowing 2-thumbs up, including commitment to ongoing funding of the CRP initiative. Pretty great to see the various layers of government on the same page around managing growth!

How to Engage 101: Open Spaces

You’ve got to hand it to the Town of Cochrane (and the folks from Intelligent Futures) for their Open Spaces community engagement process. I am seriously engaged. I just spent the last hour pouring over an interactive map of Cochrane, reading other’s comments and putting my own thoughts on the map. Really well done (insert thumbs up here).

In addition to the interactive map, they’re also running focus groups, started a Facebook page and installed “sounding boards” at busy places around town.

Sounding boards in Cochrane

One of the major complaints that residents in Cochrane seem to voice (over and over), is displeasure with the process and the lack of transparency when Council and Town Administration are making decisions. You only have to think back to the uproar over the Man of Vision logo, and the early days of the transit discussion, to get the sense that it’s not WHAT decisions are being made, it’s HOW they’re made and WHO gets to be involved.

For what it’s worth, the high standard being set for public engagement with the Open Spaces plan should be the new standard for the Town of Cochrane when they’re setting direction for major infrastructure and long range planning.

This includes;

  1. The pool. 30 million bucks are slated to go to this project in the next few years.
  2. The art’s center. It’s going to be a major development, with a lot of potential to continue putting Cochrane on the map as not just a suburb of Calgary.
  3. Transit. I’m pretty sure the town learned a lesson on this one already, and the quality of engagement is up significantly from the fall.
  4. The “Quarry” (former Domtar site). What amenities does this town really need and want? Big box stores? Pedestrian malls? Mixed use commercial and residential? Doesn’t hurt to ask.

If you’re a Cochrane resident, and haven’t had a chance to engage with the Open Spaces planning yet, here are some ways to go about it;

The Facebook Page.

The Interactive Map.

The Online Survey. (I couldn’t link straight to the survey, because I already completed it. This link will take you to an article from Discover Airdrie, and you can access the survey from there. You could also always go to Cochrane Parks page).

Or head on down to the off-leash area by the river and provide some good ol' fashioned feedback.

I sure hope that when the Open Spaces Master Plan comes out that there isn’t a bunch of “you never asked me my opinion” backlash. There are no shortage of opportunities to get involved on this one.