Budget adjustments, Bearspaw subdivision approved, Equine facility approved in Div 9
APRIL 9TH COUNCIL UPDATE
· BUDGET ADJUSTMENT – SPECIAL INITIATIVES
· RANCH AND FARM APPLICATION APPROVED IN DIVISION 9
· SUBDIVISION APPLICATION IN BEARSPAW APPROVED
· SUBDIVISION APPLICATION IN DIVISION 4 APPROVED
BUDGET ADJUSTMENT – SPECIAL INITIATIVES
When Council approves the budget in the Fall of the previous year, it is a base budget that basically allows the County to “keep the lights on”. As expenses are identified throughout the year, Administration brings forward requests for budget adjustments. At April 9th’s Council meeting, the following budget requests were approved:
Increase in Family and Community Support Services Grants - $71,200
Increased staff - $1,063,800
§ Planning Services – new position – Municipal Engineer
§ Fire Services – new positions – Balzac, Bearspaw and Springbank Fire Station Staffing (2 part-time members per station)
§ Fleet Services – new position – Automotive Mechanic Apprentice
§ Financial Services – new position – Financial Planner
§ Municipal Clerks Office – new position – Policy Coordinator
§ Transportation Services – conversion of temporary to full time - Administration Support
§ Transportation Services – new positions – 2 Equipment Operators
§ Capital Project Management - new position – Engineering Technologist
Fire Services - Water Tender - $530,000
Plow Truck - $380,000
Bridge replacement, rehabilitation and repairs – 4 county bridges - $2,024,000
Staff increases are a direct response to Council’s identified need for improved customer service and come as a result of the reorganization that was completed in November, 2018.
Oddly, the topic that caused the most discussion was Fire Services’ request for a water tender (tanker). Administration’s report stated that “The new tender will support our existing fleet during major events and provide depth and reliability as we re-allocate existing fire apparatus…and (will) allow us to transfer existing fire apparatus into other stations and roles to better utilize existing fleet assets, and improve overall firefighting capabilities.”
To me, improving County firefighting services was a no-brainer. However, Reeve Boehlke believed we should have deferred the purchase. He felt the County should be contracting this type of servicing out or relying on our neighbouring municipalities (mutual aid) for support. In response to the Reeve’s claims, Fire Chief Smith stated that contracting water trucks was not a consideration as the response time could be greater than 2 hours. Furthermore, relying on assistance from our neighbours assumes they would not need the equipment themselves – something that cannot be guaranteed.
RANCH AND FARM APPLICATION APPROVED IN DIVISION 9
An application to redesignate a 41.9-acre parcel with a 27.5-acre remainder from Ranch and Farm 2 to Ranch and Farm 3 was approved unanimously. Administration found the application compliant with policy.
The application was filed under the new and distinct agricultural use as the applicants wanted to keep the original parcel for their residence and establish an equestrian business on the remaining parcel, which Ranch and Farm 3 zoning allows.
SUBDIVISION APPLICATION IN BEARSPAW APPROVED
An application to subdivide a 10-acre lot into two parcels on Rolling Acres Drive in Division 8 was approved. Due to the property’s panhandle driveway, Administration found the application non-compliant with policy.
The property was zoned R-2 which allows for 4-acre parcels, other than the panhandle there were no servicing constraints. The existing panhandle driveway could easily accommodate the traffic created by one additional home, its questionability surfaced around accessibility for future subdivision.
Because the property to the west is an undeveloped 20-acre parcel, it was determined that the applicants could enter into a future Road Acquisition Agreement with the County, whereby the County can acquire the portion of land necessary to create an access road should further development applications come forward.
The applicant had asked to have the transportation off-site levies (TOL) waived on both parcels. Because of a wetland on the east side of the property, Lot 1 was considered a terminal subdivision. However, it was believed lot 2 could be further subdivided. All but Councillor Hanson supported having the TOLs deemed payable on Lot 1 and deferred on lot 2.
The applicant also asked to waive the Municipal Reserve fees on both lots, however, the majority on Council was not supportive of this request and mandated they be paid in full.
Lastly, one of the conditions of subdivision was that the applicant tie both lots into the Rocky View Water Co-op. The original lot is serviced by a well and the applicant had asked that the new lot also be allowed to be serviced by a well, claiming tie in to the Water Co-op would be too onerous. It made sense to allow the existing home to remain on the well, however, policy is quite clear that new development hook-up to existing amenities, if available. As such, I made the motion to allow the original parcel to remain on the well and have the new lot tie-in to the Water Co-op. My motion was supported 6-3 with Councillors Kamachi, Gautreau and Reeve Boehlke in opposition.
SUBDIVISION APPLICATION IN DIVISION 4 APPROVED
An application to subdivide a 40-acre parcel into two 20-acre parcels was approved in Division 4. Administration deemed the application to be non-compliant with policy. Councillors Hanson, Kissel and I were opposed.
The application came forward under the new and distinct land use, however, the applicant was honest and stated that it was really for family planning circumstances. The applicant’s consultant, ex-County Reeve Larry Konschuk, stated he was shocked that the application had been found non-compliant as it was passed by Council at the redesignation stage. I was surprised that an ex-Reeve would not understand the process. However, this is where much of the confusion lies for residents in the redesignation/subdivision process. Redesignation is about land use and whether the land is suitable for the intended purpose under the land use bylaw. At the subdivision stage, it is determined whether the application is technically feasible and whether the proposed parcels, after subdivision, can meet the County’s servicing standards and other policy constraints.
The redesignation of this parcel had been questionable for a couple of reasons. In spite of these, the majority on Council had approved the redesignation on September 25th last year (Hanson, Kissel, and I had voted against it). The requirement to dedicate a 30m wide strip along the entire northern boundary for future road widening meant that the resulting parcel would be smaller than allowed under the Agricultural Holdings designation (18.4 acres, rather than at least the minimum 20.01 acres). As well, the land is part of Calgary’s identified growth corridor under the Intermunicipal Development Plan. Calgary had asked that the County not fragment this land further. However, the majority on Council ignored this request saying that the lands to the east were already fragmented – a nonsensical conclusion (in my opinion) given that Calgary is to the west of the proposed lands.
In addition to these flaws, at subdivision, the applicant was requesting the elimination of the servicing standard requirement to drill a well on the new parcel to demonstrate availability of water. It was determined that the water in the area is not potable and the property would have to be on a cistern. In my view, approving an application when there is no available potable water is irresponsible. Only Hanson and Kissel agreed and the application passed 6-3.