page contents

Coming Up: April 9 Council Meeting

Our next Council meeting is Monday night. Following is what we will be discussing. Highlights include The Cairn, an Opioid Response Task Force, and supplementary property taxes for new buildings.

If you want to find out more about a topic, click here to access the agenda package.

As always, all opinions or mistakes expressed here belong to me and me alone. I always approach upcoming meetings with an open mind, so I would love to hear your thoughts.


Delegations

My favourite part of Council meetings is often the delegation component. This is an opportunity for anyone who wishes to address Council to do so. This week, two delegations have expressed their intention to present:

  • One discussing Supervised Consumption Sites
  • One discussing parking on 106 Ave and 99 St

Intermunicipal Development Plan Ammendments

The Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP) is a shared City-County agreement which outlines how land that effects both municipalities will be developed. The IDP has not been updated since annexation, so it is in need of technical amendments. None of what is proposed will change the intent of this plan.

I am currently in support of these amendments.


The Cairn

The Cairn is back up for discussion. For the full background, click here to see what I wrote when it was before Council in late 2017. There are development permit conditions concerning a rear parking lot which have not been met by the developer. Since it is in a Direct Control district, Council is responsible for deciding what happens next.

In January, Council Committee of the Whole (CCW) met to discuss this issue. Even though it is made up of all of Council, CCW cannot make any decisions- it can only make recommendations to Council.

One recommendation CCW made was to issue a fine of $250 for not meeting development permit conditions. This is the maximum fine the Land Use Bylaw allows for a first offence. At our Feb 12th meeting, Council voted to levy this fine.

CCW also directed administration to make a number of amendments to the development permit. They were:

  • Require landscaping and protective poured curbing by July 31, 2018. The intent of this is to make the property more aesthetically pleasing and to increase safety by creating defined entrances and exits.
  • Require paving and line-painting for 37 stalls by July 31, 2019. This would bring the total on-site stalls up to 69.
  • Include a condition for submission of landscaping securities. Paving after landscaping introduces some risk to the trees. Having a security would give the City recourse to make sure any damage was rectified.

Administration has completed a draft permit which incorporates these directives. On Monday, Council will be discussing the development permit as amended and whether or not to approve it. I currently intend to vote in favour of the development permit administration is presenting.

There are still two discussions Council may have to have in the future about this project:

 

Enforcement

I am hopeful that the developer will meet requirements laid out in the amended development permit. If it does not, Council will need to discuss how to attain compliance. I'm of the strong conviction that we need to take a hard line on enforcing whatever requirements our Council votes for.

Traditionally the City has used stop orders and fines to enforce development permits. However, both bring challenges in this particular situation. A stop order would require some or all of The Cairn's commercial spaces to close- this could deprive vulnerable people of important services. Furthermore, the developer has contended that work has not been done due to lack of finances- a fine will not help rectify that.

CCW directed administration to collect more information on a third option, Enforcement Orders. When one of these is issued, the City completes required work and bills the developer. On April 17, administration will be providing the Infrastructure and Protective Services committee more information on this process. I look forward to learning more- if enforcement is needed, I think this is the most promising route.

 

Parking

The developer disagrees with the number of parking stalls required- it would like to reduce them. However, all Council can do at this time is amend the existing development permit, not create a new one. Administration advised that dramatically changing the number of stalls is too big a change for an amendment- to make that change, the developer would need to apply for a whole new permit. One reason I intend to vote in favour of extending the paving time to 2019 is to give the developer time to apply for a new permit if it so chooses.

I’m still not convinced this site needs 69 stalls. I want to ensure that there is adequate onsite parking. But I’m not sure that this parking lot will ever be full and an empty parking lot doesn’t enhance the neighbourhood. If the developer applies for a new permit with reduced parking, I don’t know where I will land. But I am certainly open to the discussion. At the same time, whether or not we approve a smaller parking lot, I intend to advocate for a 2019 completion date and strong penalties if it is not met. 


Community Opioid Response Task Force

Under the Mayor's leadership, a Task Force to address the opioid crises has been formed. It includes representatives from all three local school boards, the RCMP, Alberta Health Services, Canadian Mental Health, ACT Medical, the Chamber of Commerce, and the Peace Country Drug Awareness Coalition.

The intent of this Task Force is to:

  • work collaboratively on a community action plan
  • facilitate coordinated community responses
  • stay abreast of updated statistics, developments, and progress related to opioid response

This Task Force has adopted Terms of Reference (ToR). They layout a four pillar response to Opioids in our community: prevention, enforcement, treatment, and harm reduction. The ToR also layout a Task Force mission, vision, shared values, and roles and responsibilities for participating organisations.

City administration plans to have two staff people involved in the Task Force: one to participate as a key stakeholder, and one to provide all the administrative support required for the Task Force (distributing agendas, taking minutes, etc...). This will not be a full-time occupation for these staff people- they will take part while also doing their existing work for the City.

This Task Force does not include members appointed by Council. Additionally, the staff resources allocated fall within existing budgets that Council has already approved. Council does not have to give its approval for the Task Force to move forward nor for City staff to participate. However, administration is still presenting this to Council for endorsement. Administration is looking for confirmation that it is moving in a direction which Council supports.

I plan to vote in favour of endorsing the ToR and allocating staff resources towards the Task Force. I am excited about this initiative and grateful to Mayor Given for forming it. When it comes to social issues, I have a sense that the City is funding community initiatives at proper amounts. However, I think we can be doing a much better job at providing leadership and coordination. Initiating and supporting this task force fits my vision of the City's role in improving our community.


Corporate Records Destruction

The City maintains large amounts of records relating to all departments. Every year, Legislative Services destroys records which are no longer needed. Council approval is required for this destruction to take place. Click here to see the records slated for destruction this year. I will be taking a closer look at this list on Monday morning, but have not seen any red flags so far- I currently intend to vote in favour of the proposed destructions.


Supplementary Assessment Bylaws

The City has passed Supplementary Property Tax bylaws every year since 1995. These allow the City to collect taxes on newly constructed buildings or major renovations in the same year as they are completed and occupied. The taxes levied are pro-rated to reflect the actual occupancy of a building or improvement. For example, if a house is occupied in November it will only be charged for two months worth of taxes in the year that it is completed.

If Supplementary Assessment Bylaws are not passed, then owners will not be taxed on new buildings or improvements until the year after they are completed.

I intend to vote in favour of the Supplementary Assessment Bylaws. Not having these bylaws passed would create inequities between people who completed a building in 2018 but paid no taxes and people who completed buildings in 2017 or earlier. 


Subdivision Approval Extension

Council will vote on a request to extend the time needed to get final endorsement on a subdivision. The property in question is in Signature Falls. This is a standard request when a piece of land’s development has been stalled due to market conditions. Since no stakeholders have raised objections, I intend to vote “yes” to this request.
 


That is what is on the agenda for Monday. I welcome any questions you might have. I also approach our meetings with an open mind, so I appreciate hearing any comments you might have.

Thanks for taking the time to read.

-Dylan