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Coming Up: February 25

Council meets Monday night at 6:30. Included on the agenda:

  • A commercial indoor and outdoor volleyball facility

  • Housekeeping amendments to the Land Use Bylaw, including definitions of breweries, wineries, and distilleries

  • A loan to the Grande Prairie Storm

  • A new Storm Drain Master Plan

Following is more information and my take on agenda items.

As always, any mistakes or opinions belong to me and me alone, not to Council or City staff.

If you would like to watch the meeting or read any of its supporting material for yourself, you can do so by clicking here. The City will post the highlights of Council’s decisions here.


Commercial Volleyball Facility

Council will be considering an application to rezone some land just east of Riverstone to allow for a Commercial Recreation Facility. This is on the old PARDS site.

The new owner is hoping to create indoor and outdoor volleyball courts on the eastern side of this property. This is a private project- I am not aware of the City being asked for any cash or other help in creating this facility.

Here is what current development in the area looks like:

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According to the Fieldbrook Outline Plan, this is what future development in the area will look like:

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I have some questions about this proposal. I’m especially interested to hear what consideration has been given to noise at night generated by the outdoor courts. However, I don’t have too much concern that this will negatively impact surround properties. I’m likely to support this development.


Land Use Bylaw (LUB) Amendments

Council will be debating a number of housekeeping amendments to the Land Use Bylaw (LUB). Most of these clean up simple errors or ambiguities in the LUB- they are not intended to substantially change its application. Highlights include:

  • Adding definitions for Distilleries and Wineries while tweaking the definitions for Breweries

  • Clarifying the definition of “Permeable Surfaces” and giving City staff the ability to have discretion in deciding whether or not something falls into that category

  • Clarifying that hard surfacing is not permitted within 0.5m of the property line in low density residential districts

I will be supporting this bylaw revision. However, I do see one potential problem that I will be asking and potentially motioning to make amendments about:

These would see a differential between Breweries, Distilleries, and Wineries and Micro-Breweries, Micro-Distilleries, and Micro-Wineries. From my understanding, this amendment would only change something from a full scale operation to a Micro- operation if it “does not produce any odour that is noticeable outside of the building.” This does not make sense to me. I don’t know how you would define or measure “noticeable odour.” It is also my understanding that every operation, no matter the size, produces odour outside the building when disposing of ingredients.

I’d like to see these definitions cleaned up before being put into the LUB.

Furthermore, the LUB requires a Micro- operation to be accompanied by Drinking Establishment, Restaurant, or Retail Store. There is not ability to run a Micro- operation without the public being able to make purchases onsite. I need to find out the intention behind this, but at first consideration I do not think that we should force this type of sales on all Micro- producers


Grande Prairie Storm Loan

Several weeks ago, Council approved a loan to the Grande Prairie Storm. Now Council needs to approve a lending bylaw to make it official. Since this money has already been promised, I will be voting in favour of this bylaw.

Click here to read in depth about Council’s discussion regarding the Storm.

This loan will be for $200,000. The terms are that it will be paid back over 5 years with a 4.25% interest rate.

Here are some pieces of information that made me comfortable with approving this loan:

  • The Storm are part of a non-profit society, not a business. There are no individuals or corporations who derive profit from the team. The City has had access to their books to verify their revenue and expenses. The Canadian Revenue Agency is also very serious about making sure no dividends are taken out of non-profit societies.

  • In addition to the money the City nets from having the Storm at Revolution place, the City will profit in interest from this loan

  • This money will come from the Financial Stabilization Reserve. That means that it will not effect any approved programs nor have an impact on the projected 2019 tax decrease of 4.1%

  • The Storm does have stakeholders (including the board members) who have put in approximately $350,000 of capital to keep the team going. Because it is a non-profit they cannot take money out of the team as profit. And because it is NOT a charity, they don’t get to write this money off as a tax deduction.

  • City management will need to authorize the disbursement of this loan amount. They are instructed to make sure that local vendors and credit cards are paid off before anyone else.

  • Built into the loan agreement will be a provision that the City’s loan needs to get paid back before any of the stakeholders who have given low or no interest loans are paid back.

  • The City will be providing strong oversight including reviewing monthly financials, undertaking end of season reviews, and appointing a voting board member

  • I voted yes because I am confident that the team will pay back the loan. However, if I am wrong and the team defaults, the City will get ownership of the franchise. Its value has been estimated to be $500,000 or more. Based on some research I have done, I’m confident that the franchise is worth more than the value of this loan (click here for once example of why I believe this).

I voted in favour of this loan because I am confident that it will help the team become sustainable, will get paid back, and will be a net profit for the City.


Storm Drainage Master Plan

In light of the previous agenda topic, it is ironic that Council will also be considering the adoption of a Storm Drainage Master Plan. This plan is meant to guide future decisions on the building, care, and replacement of storm drains.

The City owns over 226km of storm pipes, 97 storm outfalls, and 43 storm ponds. Here is a picture of the network. Each colour represents a connected series of pipes- my understanding is that colours on this map do no say anything about the condition, size, or other attributes of pipes.

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And here is a picture of how the current storm system is expected to perform. The left side represents 1 in every 5 year rainfall events, the right side represents 1 in every 100 year events. Orange and red dots represent where storm water water would be expected to drain above ground due to local storm pipes being completely full.

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The Master Plan lays out what investment is needed to provide flood protection against 1 in 100 year events throughout the season. To accomplish this, it calls for $98,500,000 in improvements in the following areas:

  • Northridge ($24,700,000)

  • Avondale/Montrose ($23,200,000)

  • Highland Park/Swanavon ($14,300,000)

  • Ivy Lake/Cobblestone/Smith ($11,000,000)

  • Richmond Industrial ($25,300,000)

All of this work is not possible at once. If Council approves the Master Plan, then management will begin integrating the Plan’s recommendations into future budgets.


That’s what is on our agenda for Monday. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You can comment below. Or, you can contact me at dbressey@cityofgp.com or 780-402-4166. I'm happy to talk online or over the phone. I'm also always willing to setup a time to meet for coffee.

After Council meeting, you will be able to find highlights posted by the City here.

Thanks for reading!

-Dylan