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Coming Up: March 25

Council meets Monday night at 6:30. The most interesting agenda items:

  • Catholic School Board Bus Repair Facility: A request for City land

  • Storm Loan: Final readings of bylaws to enable this

  • Combative Sports Commission: minor bylaw changes

  • Social Sustainability Framework: a new guiding document for Community Social Development

  • Supplementary Property Tax: A bylaw to allow taxes to be collected on newly completed buildings

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.

While I express my current views below, I always go into meetings ready to listen and with an open mind. I may positions I learn new information and participate in debate.

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.

Catholic School Board Bus Maintenance Facility

The Grande Prairie Catholic School Board has requested land from the City to build a bus maintenance facility.

Management has identified a site in the Vision West Business Park. It is a City owned lot which was previously set aside to accommodate potential outdoor recreation facilities. The land is currently designated as Public Service which would not allow for a maintenance facility. Council will debating a bylaw amendment to rezone this lot to General Industrial.


This matter was before Council on December 3. At that time, Council defeated a motion to undertake this rezoning. I was in favour of Council rejecting this request. I had no concerns about land use. However, at the time, I was not convinced that we should be giving this land to the Catholic School Board. Council raised concerns, and no representatives from the School Board were available to address them.

Since then, I have received new information from the School Board. This has caused me to reconsider my position. This information includes:

  • The Catholic School Board buses a lot of City residents for programs of choice. Additionally, a lot of its County resident students are transported using Peace Wapiti buses. Catholic School Board buses are used for a much higher proportion of City residents than I initially assumed.

  • The original earth on this property was used for other developments, then replaced with fill. This makes it marginal property due to likely ground settling. Concrete and asphalt lots are unfeasible, and any buildings require extensive geotechnical work to support their foundations.

  • This project will only use about half of the lot- the rest could be put to City uses in the future

I’m likely to support this proposal at Council.

Grande Prairie Storm Loan

Earlier this year, 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.

Combative Sports Commission Rules

The Combative Sports Commission has asked Council to make a few changes to the bylaw which governs it. These include:

  • Decreasing the fees paid for judges

  • Removing the need for fighters to receive testing for Hepatitis B surface antibodies. The organisation which governs Combative Sports Commissions and the Commission’s local doctor say this is redundant in conjunction with other required tests

  • Allowing the blood test results fighters submit to be up to 180 days old instead of the current 90

We have a very responsible and experienced Commission. I trust it to make appropriate recommendations. I will likely be supporting these changes.

Social Sustainability Framework

The City’s Social Sustainability Framework is the guiding policy document for Community Social Development. A revision to plan for 2019 - 2022 is coming before Council for endorsement. It identifies six main priorities:

  1. Increased financial resilience for individuals and families

  2. Increased adult resilience

  3. Increased family resilience

  4. Increased youth and child resilience (positive child and youth development)

  5. Increased community belonging

  6. Increased community partnerships and/or collective impact initiatives

You can read this framework here. I intend to vote in favour of endorsing it.

Supplementary Property Tax Bylaw

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 2019 but paid no taxes and people who completed buildings in 2018 or earlier. 

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 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.

We also always have great conversation in the GP Round Table group Facebook.

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

Thanks for reading!