Posted by: ourspringbank | January 16, 2013

CBC: “Opposition to Bingham has evaporated”

According to the radio this morning (CBC The Eye Opener) community “opposition to Bingham Crossing” has evaporated.

In other (fictitious) news this morning:

  • Reeve “Rolly” Ashdown and Councillor Paul McClean repay all the election campaign donations they received from Rencor (Bingham Crossings developer),  fearing that voters would see this as the sole reason they voted against 410 letters and 90 presentations from Springbank residents opposed to Bingham Crossing at the October Public Hearing.
  •  Councillor Solberg  announces he will resigns his seat because of the pain he has caused his community. His announcement follows the outcry – literally – from local residents he witnessed  at the Conrich townhall meeting last week. In his defense of his comments about former interactions with CN, he denies all wrong doing and  said “he talked [with CN] but he didn’t spoke”.
  • Councillor Lois Haddafield retracts her claim about being able to pay back Rocky View County debt incurred in servicing Habbersville. Blushing, she also apologizes for wasting 1000+ hrs of people time by commissioning the The Reeve’s Task Force, now claiming it was not meant to guide council as originally proclaimed but an April Fools prank that got out of hand.
  • Rocky View County taxpayers  contributed $1.2 million over the last 5 years to Wheatland to assist them dispose of sewage after their 2007 tsunami. “I am glad Rocky View County taxpayers could help our neighbors, we can afford it” said Councillor Solberg, the Chair of the Rocky View County – Wheatland Inter-Municipal  Committee.
  • The County CFO has issued a statement that their previous announcement of a  $75 million debt was a mistake. Owing to an accounting error, the cookies in the jar outside council chambers that had gone missing and the Balzac sewage pipe were paid for with the same check!  Now the developers who took the shortcake have replaced it, $74,999,997 and 51 cents  can be removed from the books. Asked about the departure of the former CEO, he grinned and stated  “I told Ron Coon we were going to be OK just before he quit”.

If you would like to find out what else is happening in the world of Rocky View County tune into the CBC’s The Eye Opener or simply read the Onion.

You can leave comments for CBC at:

or post you own news stories below (no research or checking of facts necessary).

CN at Conrick

I attended the above noted meeting, hosted and chaired by Councillor Solberg.

Here, in no specific order, are some observations:

1) To those very few people in Springbank,Bearspaw and Bragg Creek who are in favour of massive development-If you want to see how mega projects can destroy a once vibrant and ideal community, go to Conrich. The place has been devastated and the people are both furious and miserable.

2) You have to feel very sorry for those in the Conrich area. At best they have been neglected by their own councillor (Solberg). More likely is that they have been badly cheated by their own councillor.

3) Among the many things that were stated by Coun Solberg or members of the RV staff are the folowing . These are not my interpretations of what they said-this IS what they said.  My own comments are in brackets.

-because of the CN project specifically and the industrialization of Rocky View generally , residents MUST accept that their property values have and will continue to decrease and their overall quality of life has and will continue to deteriorate.

However, this will save an them an annual tax bill of $37 on a property valued at $500,000. (You did read that correctly-we were told that the community has essentially gone to hell but each family will be a grand total of $37 better off each year. This was actually stated with a straight face)

-Other than incessant noise,the ever increasing numbers of huge speeding trucks on the roads do present a real danger to residents and their children but there is nothing that can be done about it.There is no more money for policing the roads-or for that matter, even repairing the roads.Councillor Solberg suggested RV residents write to their MPs, whose names he could not recall. In reference to inadequate and dangerous roads, the people of Conrich were told that since CN is a federal responsibility and since the tracks are on federal land, there is nothing Councillor Solberg can do about it. He said he has never spoken to CN (I would suggest this cannot be the case. It is quite the stretch to believe he has never spoken to CN. The only thing that can be worse than him lying about it is if he is telling the truth. If he hasn’t spoken to CN, then why not? It is, after all, by far the most important concern of the people he has represented for 10 or more years)

– According to Coun Solberg, Rocky View does not have a debt, infrastructure costs are not relevant and we shouldn’t believe what we read in the newspaper

– According to Coun Solberg RV has not been subsidizing sewage from Wheatland so it has not cost us anything at all. However, in 2 weeks we will find out why we have subsidized sewage from Wheatland (So, then, which is it? We will know in 2 weeks. We weren’t allowed to know for the 5 years it has been going on -must be top secret-I can hardly wait-does that mean if I get CSIS clearance within 2 weeks I can be trusted with such state secrets?)

-There is nothing that can be done about the 24 hour a day blinding  lights from CN either

-In reference to dangerous and inadequate roads, the people of Conrich were told: “The same situation exists all over Rocky View” (Well, I’m sure that made them feel a lot better).

Misc personal comments

This was a meeting that was truly amazing-very, very well attended by  100 or more people.

They attended without prompting-i.e.-no emails or organization to remind or encourage them.

West Rocky View does have a large degree of organization. It would be to our collective shame to not do whatever we can to help them out.

At Bingham we had 85% opposed. Conrich had over 95% opposed, maybe it was even 100%. These people are very, very mad at their Council member.

I must reiterate point #1. Those very few people in west Rocky View who are in favour of massive development should go to Conrich to see how our pro development councillors are destroying the community. I realize that those few in favour of mega malls only feel that way because they stand to make a lot of money by selling some of their land, working for the developer, etc.

My message to you is that you better make a lot-at least enough to move away as you certainly won’t want to live here.

Mind you, if you don’t make a lot you can always move to the Conrich area. Thanks to the never ending efforts of our pro development councillors, Conrich has become cheap and is getting cheaper all the time.

Jerry Arshinoff

Posted by: ourspringbank | December 22, 2012

‘Twas the Night Before Bingham

‘Twas the Night Before Bingham

‘Twas the night before Bingham, when all through the day

Not a creature was stirring, not even the SCPA;

The pipes were all strung through the County with care,

In hopes that the levies soon would be there;


The Councillors were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of Springbank Paved, danced in their heads;

Lois, dreaming of Haberville, and Rolly of fame,

They waited till morning to play out their game,


When out in the County there arose such a clatter,

Earl sprang from his bed, to see what was the matter.

Away to the office he flew like a ram,

Tore open his email – and said “this is SPAM!”


The mob in the chamber, who shouted out “NO!”

Showed the anger of residents, now where should he go?

When, what in the midst of the mob could that be,

But a man with a badge, was he RCMP?


He stared at the crowd, he looked at the clown,

The man in the corner, it must be Ashdown.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;


“Now, Lois! Now, Beilke! Now, EARL and you PAUL!

Let’s SELL out the masses – NOW – Ron wants his MALL!

Who are those people? How do they dare?,

Question our judgement,  what do we care.”


As new Reeve Ashdown, ran the show – and – Lois sighed, “Good Grief”,

Beilke dozed, and Paul, he napped, their opinions, would be brief.

Earl’s mind was set, he was  in a flap,

The letters,  he HAD read -were -totally CRAP!


As was their habit, from election till nigh,

When they met with opposition –  they’d usually lie.

They ignored the facts, the decision was poor,

They sold out the masses, it was 5 – 4.


And then in a twinkling, I heard the retort,

“We’ve had it, you’re finished, we’ll see you in court.”

…….to be continued


Merry Christmas & a Happier New Year



(Sent to by  “Mr and Mrs Anonymous”)

Posted by: Enrique Massot | December 18, 2012

Rocky View sewage system needs audit

It is big time the taxpayers ask Rocky View County to open its books and come clean on the largest debt the County has ever taken on their behalf. 

The East Rocky View Wastewater project, which makes up the bulk of the County’s long-term debt, has failed to live up to its promises, and as a result the debt is now almost as high as one full year of County’s revenue. The County owed only nominal amounts before 2005.

Residents should ask nothing less than a full-blown audit of the way the County has been conducting its water and wastewater business in the last nine years. The audit, to be effective, should be conducted by a solid third party firm.

An audit could answer the question of how staff could anticipate, and council choose to believe, that 50,000 new residents or their equivalent in commercial development would settle in Rocky View by 2012.

Staff also reported to Council on March 31, 2005 that 100,000 residents would be living in north and east Rocky View by 2017. 

Such growth requires annual rates of 250 per cent. Nobody asked staff, during open Council meetings, how the County’s historical growth rates of 3.5 per cent per year could suddenly shoot up to those numbers.

“It you build it, they will come,” reported then Infrastructure and Operations Director Derek Lovlin on July 5, 2005. On that day, Lovlin recommended Council to approve the first $25.5 million borrowing bylaw for the project.

However, a document recently released by the County, titled Land Inventory and Residential Development Capacity, shows that construction in the County had already been slowing down for seven years at the time. It reached a peak in 1998 with 495 units being added, and bottomed in 2011 with 145 units.

Staff also predicted offsite levies paid by developers using the sewage servicing would be pouring in at rates of over $10 million per year, bringing the County’s debt down to about $28 million by 2012. A Debt Retirement chart presented to council in March 2005, showed the debt was to be retired by 2022.

Instead, offsite levies have been trickling, a mere $560,000 being received this year until early December. Interests on the long-term debt last year were $2 million.

There was virtually no public input into the East Rocky View Sewage project. A notice about the first borrowing ($25 million) was published on the local newspaper but failed to disclose the amount to be borrowed. One open house received little advertising and was attended mainly by interested developers.

Much of the 16,000 acres that should be developed in order to pay back the debt are in rural areas, and their suitability for development has never been assessed.

How staff could recommend a horrendously over-sized project that pumps sewage along 54 km from Balzac to Langdon should be made clear to all residents. A bank would not consider lending a single dollar based on a business case as weak as presented, but the County was able to borrow millions, because it has 37,000 backers, namely the residents who pay taxes every year. Those taxpayers, however, have a right to know what they tax dollars are being used for. The origins of this venture should be carefully investigated. The makers of the audit could also be requested to produce recommendations on how to get out of this ruinous business in the best possible terms.

Posted by: ourspringbank | December 12, 2012

Bingham Hearing audio files now online

Not paid to attend the Bingham Crossing Hearings?

Couldn’t stay at the County building to 2  in the morning or give up three days of your life to express you opinion during the Bingham Crossing Hearings?

Well have we a Christmas present for you, three days of Bingham Hearings now online – free to download and play!

Bingham Hearings

Warning: Content will ever change your faith in municipal democracy and fair process.


Posted by: norlaine | November 30, 2012

Response to County Plan Participation Invitation

 I must confess, I’m not going to sign up. I’ve been giving serious consideration and feeling quite guilty for this decision, but I’m so angry that all of the time I have already invested in these kinds of workshops (and I’ve attended them all over the years), only to see my (and all of my neighbours) efforts ignored that I’m not sure I really care anymore. The invitation to the workshop states: “Your thoughts are important to us”. I’m done with what I feel is only “lip service” by the County of Rocky View and I wonder why you (not you personally, but you know what I mean) bother wasting our time. My thoughts are not important to Rocky View at all and the workshops are a big sham. My time is precious to me and after the last workshop followed by the decision to precede with the Bingham development regardless of public input, I need a break. I would hazard a guess that everyone else is feeling like me, which is why you are not getting the attendance you are looking for. I think we’ve made our wishes pretty clear. If Rocky View (and council) doesn’t get it by now, I doubt they ever will. I want to see the county “walk the talk” before I’m going to get involved again.

 A Springbank Resident

– Please note, I did not write this, although I understand the author’s feelings. Just wanted to share with the community. I imagine there are a number of residents feeling this way by now.

Posted by: Enrique Massot | November 29, 2012

Rocky View plans worth a century of development

By Enrique Massot

A report released by Rocky View County titled Land Inventory and Residential Development Capacity has thrown a bucket of cold water over previous statements about massive amounts of people wanting to become residents in Rocky View.

The first-ever document released by the County with real housing statistics shows that annual construction figures in Rocky View peaked in 1998  at 500 houses, and have been steadily declining ever since. As a result, the County has an inventory of approved developments that, at the rates of the last 20 years, could take over 100 years to build.

The sobering results mark the end of one of the most enduring myths perpetrated on the public, that of hordes of prospective residents overwhelming Rocky View.

The hard numbers, never provided before, show a second peak with 453 houses being built in 2003. However annual figures show a steady decline since then, with a 20-year low in 2011 with 145 houses built.

House construction in the 20-year period that went from 1991 to 2011 shows an overall rate of 344 houses per year, but the average figures for the last five years show that just 280 houses per year have been built.

In spite of those modest numbers, Rocky View planners have been busy processing ambitious development applications for more than a decade, and Council has been using most of its meeting time to process—and approve—what now appear as overly ambitious, redundant development applications.

Currently, Rocky View has approved plans with capacity for 40,359 dwellings. At a rate of three persons per dwelling, that number would represent a population of 120,000.

At the best rate of 20-year’s 344 dwellings per year, those approved plans would be done in 117 years.

If we assume the 1998 peak as overly optimistic and take the rate of the last five years (280 houses per year), then the approved plans would take, for completion, nothing less than…144 years!

It turns out a much-touted “pressure for development” was nothing less than a mirage, wishful thinking or calculated rumour spread by land speculators, administrators and strangely motivated politicians.

Now, the implications of the disappearance of statistical building updates regularly provided to Council by former planning director Ken Kelly until his retirement in April 2001 become clear.

It goes to show how business have been conducted in the County. Without real numbers, members of the public and media were left to guess what the real needs of the County were. Real numbers were replaced by senior administrators’ general statements about ever-increasing “pressure for development.”

As many as 18 area structure plans and 43 conceptual schemes, most with no water, are the legacy of 12 years of approvals that began in 2001 with Rocky Creek in Balzac, planning 1,400 manufactured homes (one home built so far); the Hamlet of Kathyrn in 2007 with 2,150 homes planned (nine built); and Big Hill Springs, approved in 2007 with plans to build 4,000 homes (none built) in the middle of the countryside.

As a result, the Rocky View councils of the last decade have secured “the future” of the municipality…by planning a century’s worth of development! Rocky View 2060’s Growth Management Strategy, the longest-reaching plan, only looks ahead 50 years.

In fact, just a single project, Harmony, with 3,385 dwellings planned, would be enough to fulfill the County’s total absorption capacity for the next 12 years, assuming everybody coming to live in Rocky View chooses to live in North Springbank and that those 12 years keep a steady absorption rate of 280 houses per year.

The numbers for some electoral divisions in the County are staggering.

Division 2 encompassing Springbank and currently being represented by Coun. Kim Magnuson has 7,224 dwellings in diverse stages of approval, which at historical rates would take nothing less than 289 years to reach total capacity.

Division 6 encompassing most of the northeast quadrant represented by Coun. Greg Boehlke since 2004, contains now approved plans that, according to the Land Inventory, would take 173 years to build.

Division 7, represented by Coun. Lois Habberfield since 2001, has plans for 17,833 residences approved and would, according to the Land Inventory, take 713 years to reach total capacity if the rate of development remains as it has been in the last 20 years.

Division 8 encompassing Bearspaw, currently represented by Coun. Al Sacuta, has 2,884 new residences in different stages of approval, which would fulfill the area needs for the next 63 years.

Most worrisome are the implications of the released Land Inventory for the payback of Rocky View’s long-term debt, which has steadily been growing and sits now at $75 million. In another column, I will review the projections presented to Council in support of borrowing for the East Rocky View Wastewater system, now servicing CrossIron Mills and other area developments.

Not all is bad though. Now that the figures show a rather modest rate of development in the County, the current and future councils could take a break from the exhausting development-approving task and use their time to find out how all of this happened and finding ways of paying off the debt. The circumstances of some approvals could be reviewed, and an expiry date could be applied to old proposals without land use approval.

After that, Council could concentrate in working for the current taxpayers, finding ways to have better roads, preserving agriculture, creating parks, pathways and trails, manage watersheds, improve recreation, fix storm water issues created by development, enhance community support, infrastructure, fire protection and protective services.

These, by the way, were the priorities most mentioned by residents in comments submitted for last summer’s survey for a new County Plan.

Posted by: Enrique Massot | November 29, 2012

Recommendations for regional plan up for scrutiny

By Enrique Massot

Would you support encouraging rural municipalities to minimize agricultural land conversion and fragmentation?

Citizens have an opportunity to express their opinion on this and other recommendations submitted for the first-ever comprehensive plan for the South Saskatchewan Region, encompassing Alberta’s southern tip and including Rocky View County and neighbours.

The recommendations will be considered for a draft regional plan setting the course for the region for the two coming generations, said Duncan MacDonnell, public affairs officer with Alberta’s Environment and Sustainable Resource Development,

“I can’t imagine somebody not wanting to speak to where their community is going to be for the next 50 years,” he said. “Have a say.”

A questionnaire through which citizens can grade recommendations submitted to the province by an advisory committee can be completed online at

The deadline for submitting the responses is December 21, 2012.

The initiative is part of the Alberta’s Land-use Framework released at the end of 2008, complemented by the Alberta Land Stewardship Act, proclaimed in October 2009 that will make regional plans legally enforceable.

The recommendations of the 19-member South Saskatchewan Regional Advisory Council (RAC) have been presented at sessions across the region. About 40 members of the public attended an open house in Cochrane on Nov. 22.

About 45 stakeholders also gave input during a session preceding an open house.

“Some of the common themes we got here today is that water is important, as well as agriculture,” said MacDonnell.

Recreation and tourism, he added, were also big topics at the open house.

The South Saskatchewan Regional Plan is bounded by the borders of Saskatchewan, British Columbia and Montana. It contains the watersheds of the Red Deer, the Bow, the Oldman, the South Saskatchewan and the Milk rivers, as well as the watersheds of the Pakowki and Many Island lakes.

The province-sanctioned regional plans will combine with sub-regional plans such as the Calgary Metropolitan Plan created by the Calgary Regional Partnership. However, while the CMP was established on a voluntary basis that allowed some rural municipalities including Rocky View County to opt out, the terms of the provincial regional plan will be mandatory.

The province has been without regional planning since the demise of regional planning commissions in the early 1990s. Conflicts over land use, particularly between urban centres and adjacent rural municipalities, have been on the raise ever since, particularly during the boom years in the early 2000s.

The lack of regional planning combined with a laissez faire approach fueled land-use frictions between municipalities such as the City of Calgary and Rocky View County, and more recently between the Town of Okotoks and the Municipal District of Foothills. Jurisdictions around water bodies such as Sylvan Lake have also been sparring on the appropriateness of development around the lake’s shores.

Although the regional plan will set up a vision and general objectives for the region within a 50-year planning horizon, it will not supress the municipal governments’ responsibilities for local land-use planning decisions.

Following the submission of the recommendations, the Land Use Secretariat will write a draft plan that will be released to the citizens for input as the next step.

“Come out in the spring and see if your concerns are reflected in the plan,” said MacDonnell. “If you do not see them, come and tell us.”

In the meantime, MacDonnell said, citizens should take the time to fill the workbook with their feedback on the RAC recommendations.

“It’s a bit of work but is worth it,” he said.

The last open house in the Calgary Region will take place today, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., in Strathmore’s Centennial Civic Centre, 120 Brent Boulevard. Other open houses will take place in southern Alberta. Information can be found at

Posted by: norlaine | November 28, 2012

Participation Needed!

This is a reminder that the last part of Phase 2 of the County Plan workshops are going on this week.

The Springbank workshop is being held at the Springbank Heritage Club on Thursday, November 29 from 6-9pm.

Below, are the numbers of registered residents; Springbank has been confirmed at 24.

The last workshop had 70 residents, and we would like to keep a high number of residents coming out to these workshops. I know a lot of folks are feeling like, “Why should we spend our evening at yet another of these boring workshops when the council (or the 5 at least) have no intention of paying any attention to what we say?” But the point here is to demonstrate that Springbankers CARE about their community. If we don’t show up in large numbers, then the 5 will say, “See? Those whiners in Springbank don’t really care, they didn’t bother to show up for any of the community input meetings.” So we need to fill the Heritage Club tomorrow night. I understand last time a whole lot of people from outside the community showed up and started putting development dots all over the maps. It is clearly open hostilities at this point. We need to show up and we need to speak up!Although you can “walk in”, it would be best if you registered prior to the workshop so that we can determine the number of Rocky View staff that must attend to help facilitate the workshop. The contact information is provided below.

contact Nikita at 403.520.6289


Posted by: Enrique Massot | November 21, 2012

Private interests fuel sprawl

As Springbank continues to digest the approval of a shopping centre and seniors’ housing complex in a Rocky View County hay field, a resident says developers’ influence on local government often leads to poor decisions.

“They will continue to develop things that don’t fit in any community,” said Craig Forsberg. “They will follow the line of: ‘of course you will want this – it’s what everyone wants.”

But are decisions such as those taken by the Rocky View Council on Bingham Crossing an isolated occurrence?

Rocky View’s Municipal Development Plan, the highest level planning document, contains a land-use strategy that vows to preserve agricultural lands by discouraging “intrusive and/or incompatible land uses…to allow agricultural activity to continue with a minimum land-use conflict.”

However, municipal planners have been referring to another section of the MDP titled Business Development to recommend approval of proposals.

“Diversification of business development is important to the economy of the Municipality,” reads that section of the MDP.

However, the plan ads, “Commercial and industrial uses should be facilitated which are of a scale and character which integrate into the existing land use pattern.”

Could it be said that Bingham phase one and the planned following phases are “of a scale and character which integrate into the existing land use pattern?”

No if we believe a majority of Springbank residents, their representative in Council and three neighbouring councillors. Yes according to the developer, the five-councillor majority from other areas who voted for the proposal, and some landowners with properties in the Bingham area and other areas in Rocky View.

So is Bingham Crossing an example of made-in-Rocky View sprawl?

According to one of many definitions, rural sprawl “Consumes the forests, wetlands, and agricultural lands. It requires more roads, and more infrastructure that is more costly than building compact environments,” noted Norberto Rodriquez dela Vega in his article Rural Smart Growth, published by B.C.’s Watershed Sentinel.

Forsberg notes that even the City of Calgary, which has stated a will to increase density, has left a door open to outward expansion and therefore to more sprawl.

In a Calgary Herald article, Calgary will Continue to Sprawl, published Nov. 17, Steven Snell noted the City of Calgary’s recently reviewed Municipal Development Plan vows to “endeavour to accommodate 33 per cent of Calgary’s future population growth within Developed Residential Areas of the city by 2039.”

“Said in another way: 67 per cent of Calgary’s new development, until 2039, is to be greenfield development, or simply, replacing agriculture and ranching lands with new communities.”

In regard to decision-making, Max Foran described in his book Expansive Discourses—Urban Sprawl in Calgary, 1945-1978, how “land developers and municipal authorities combined to create the template for residential urban sprawl.” (Page 3).

Foran noted how the industry kept one step ahead of the communities in their relationship with City Hall.

“The developers were very proactive in their dealings with the City,” he wrote on Page 18. “They made their intentions quite clear through consistent and insistent correspondence and representations,”

In one of his most striking examples, Foran describes how City departments’ advise was disregarded during a 1976 debate to decide where 127,000 expected new residents should be housed.

Two options to increase density and house 80,000 new residents in built-up areas with existing infrastructure had the favour of eight of 11 City departments. The options would reduce annexation to a minimum, discouraging car use.

“Under this more compact city, there would be a major shift towards public transit,” noted Foran on Page 118.

However, the Calgary chapter of the Urban Development Institute that represented the industry strongly opposed those options, favouring annexation instead.

In March 1977, the City adopted policy that abandoned densification, instead calling for annexation of land to provide housing for 120,000 prospective new citizens.

“The more compact urban form that had been so firmly advocated in the favoured two strategies had been sacrificed for a continuation of the status quo through widespread outward development,” noted Foran on Page 120. “The developers had got what they wanted.”

The over sized footprint of the City, its cookie-cutter, car-dependant neighourhoods, its lack of community amenities, have been choices of the development industry, helped by a complacent City Council, to build and sell houses at the cheapest price. Sprawl, however, has been costly to the taxpayers in terms of infrastructure and services that had to be constantly upgraded to follow expansion. The City is now making some attempts to change course, which opens a unique opportunity for the region if Rocky View abandons its competition for urban development.

A Rocky View County living up to its rural vocation could enter into a unique, mutually beneficial partnership with a more sustainable, compact Calgary.

By honouring its rural roots, the county could be the proud steward of a unique, wide area made up of working farms and ranches, healthy open spaces and clean watersheds, keeping expenses low and fulfill its residents’ vision.

That regional servicing will become available is only a matter of time. In partnership with the City, Rocky View could obtain water and sewer for its residents at a moderate cost. By giving up on urban development, the County could be on a better foot to ask the City to grow up instead of out.

For that to happen, however, both the City and the County need politicians representing their communities, elected by keenly aware citizens, who would take into account the overall interest of their jurisdictions, with an eye on the region.

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