What is the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board?
The Calgary Metropolitan Region Board (CMRB) is a not-for-profit corporation delegated by the Government of Alberta to manage regional growth. The board was tasked with developing a long-term plan for sustainable growth in the Calgary region that focuses on economic outcomes and provides opportunities for investment while preserving the environment and sustain natural resources.
A major function of the board is evaluating whether or not municipal statutory plans are in compliance with the Land Use and Servicing Plan, along with ensuring environmentally responsible land-use, developing policies regarding the coordination of regional infrastructure investment and service delivery, and promoting a competitive and economically sustainable economy for the region.
The CMRB is made up of elected officials from the 10 municipalities that make up the Calgary Metropolitan Region: the City of Airdrie, the Town of High River, the City of Calgary, the Town of Okotoks, the City of Chestermere, Rocky View County, the Town of Cochrane, the Town of Strathmore, Foothills County, and a portion of Wheatland County.
The CMRB regulation states the representative must be an elected official. An elected member from each municipality – a mayor or reeve – is chosen to serve on the board for a specific term. For example, Rocky View County Council appoints a council member annually to serve for a one-year term.
Membership on the board is mandatory. The Modernized Municipal Government Act mandated each of these municipalities sit on the board, and each is expected to participate in the strategical development of the Regional Growth and Servicing Plan, which is to be submitted to the Minister of Municipal Affairs.
The board’s official mandate is to support the “long-term economic, environmental and social well-being of the Calgary Metropolitan Region by facilitating collaborative regional planning practices, optimizing shared services and land use, and fostering sustainable growth.”
When was the CMRB was started?
The CMRB was established in January 2018, when the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board Regulation came into effect.
It is the first provincially-mandated growth management board for the Calgary Region, and it replaced the Calgary Regional Partnership (CRP) – a voluntary collaboration of 11 municipalities with similar goals to those of the CMRB.
Why was the CMRB started?
The Calgary region has experienced a period of unprecedented growth since the turn of the century, and that has often led to conflicts among municipalities regarding how to manage the changes.
Different municipalities and different individuals have varying perspectives on regional planning. A change to land-use or infrastructure in one municipality can have a major impact on a neighbouring municipality. Planning for growth without collaboration is more costly can lead to incompatible development.
The Edmonton region had a government-mandated board since 2008 (originally the Capital Region Board and changed to the Edmonton Municipal Region Board in 2017).
It was shown to be an effective tool for regional planning, so the government of Alberta implemented the CMRB to ensure the Calgary region manages growth in both a sustainable and coordinated manner that promotes an economic well-being.
What does this mean for municipal planning in the Calgary region?
The Regional Growth and Servicing Plan aims to establish cohesive planning strategies across the Calgary region to mitigate conflict among the municipalities. These statutory plans “establish a common planning system for the region, allowing the CMRB to implement the principles, objectives, and policies of the Interim Growth Plan.”
The CMRB Regional Growth and Servicing Plan will provide policies and guidance regarding land use, corridors for transportation, recreation, energy transmission, utilities and transit, infrastructure planning and development, water quality, use and management, and environmental sustainability.
By having all 10 municipalities participate in the development of the growth plan, it is hoped it will reflect the needs of businesses, individuals, and ecosystems across the entire Calgary region.
The deadline for the Regional Growth and Servicing Plan was set for March 1, 2021, and it is expected to be finalized by April of this year. The plan has to be approved by all ten member municipalities, and at its core is land use planning, infrastructure investment, economic planning and housing affordability.