Cell tower denied in Div 2, MPC appointments, Omnibus on first readings new norm
CANADIAN BADLANDS TOURISM ASSOCIATION PRESENTATION
· PENALTY CANCELLATION REQUEST FOR LATE TAX PAYMENT
· APPLICATION FOR CELL TOWER DENIED IN DIVISION 2
· APPLICATION TO CHANGE DC BYLAW IN DIVISION 4 APPROVED
· APPLICATION TO CREATE TWO 25-ACRE LOTS APPROVED IN DIV 6
· SUBDIVISION APPLICATION IN DIVISION 2 HELD AT FIRST READING
· COUNCILLOR GAUTREAU TO APOLOGIZE FOR BREACHES OF CODE OF CONDUCT
· AMENDMENTS TO SUBDIVISION AUTHORITY AND LAND USE BYLAW
· MUNICIPAL PLANNING COMMISSION APPOINTMENTS AND REMUNERATION
· MORATORIUM ON OFF-SITE LEVIES AND DEVELOPER FUNDED ASPs
· OMNIBUS ON FIRST READINGS
CANADIAN BADLANDS TOURISM ASSOCIATION PRESENTATION
The Canadian Badlands Tourism Association’s executive director, Lonna Hoggan, CAO Al Hoggan’s wife, presented a request of $20,000 for a membership to the Association. The group is responsible for promoting tourism in member communities, not just the Badlands.
In the past, the association has relied heavily on provincial and federal grants, however, these grants have been cut back so the group is looking at changing its marketing strategy and is appealing to surrounding municipalities for support in exchange for marketing and promotion of their County.
The request was unanimously approved. I supported the request since the funding will come from the already-approved Economic Development department budget.
PENALTY CANCELLATION REQUEST FOR LATE TAX PAYMENT
Council received two requests to cancel the penalty charged on late tax payments. The first, from division 5, sought relief from a late penalty of $7,894.47. The applicant cited difficult economic times and that their accounting position was vacant until June and the applicant had tried to get the payables caught up. Administration recommended refusal.
In the second application, the applicant from Division 9, sought relief on the grounds that his property management company had sent payment to the wrong address and payment was returned to their offices. Hence, it wasn’t paid on time. No proof was offered to show this was the case. Administration recommended refusal.
Per policy there are three reasons the County can consider waiving the penalty for late payment of taxes: where a death in the immediate family of the property owner occurred within seven days prior to the due date; where the tax notice has been sent to an incorrect address as a result of the County’s error in recording and address change on the tax roll; or, where a late payment has been processed by a financial institution and either the Financial Institution or the property owner provides documentation indication the payment was processed on or before the due date. While these reasons may be limited, until they are changed, it is my opinion that the penalty should apply.
Believing that there should be some leniency provided, Councillor Gautreau made a motion to halve the amount owed for the applicant in division 5 ($3,946.23). His motion passed 6-3 with McKylor, Henn and I opposed.
Oddly, when Councillor Kissel made a similar motion for the application in her division (to halve the amount to $486.00), her motion failed 5-4. This time, Boehlke and Kamachi joined McKylor, Henn and I in opposition. McKylor then brought forward a motion to revisit the policy in March. It passed unanimously.
APPLICATION FOR CELL TOWER DENIED IN DIVISION 2
An application by Rogers Communications to install a 30m cell tower on church lands in Division 2 was defeated. Administration had recommended refusal as the application was within 500m of an occupied dwelling which is against County policy. Councillor McKylor recused herself from the application stating she had a pecuniary interest.
Rogers stated it can prove difficult trying to find willing landlords for their towers. They had approached a number of parcels to the south and west but the Springbank Airport noted concerns. They also approached area ranchers and a commercial property in the area but claimed no one was interested, at least, until the Church came forward.
Speaking in favour of the application was a member of the Church’s board. In opposition, the Principal from the Edge School spoke citing concern for health impacts from the tower and the unknown impacts on children. There was also a letter from the immediately adjacent parcel citing concerns about health and property value.
During the hearing, the applicant stated that citing property value as a concern was not a recognized argument by the Federal government as there was no way to prove if a cell tower enhances property value or decreases it – in essence, the notion of property value is a speculative argument. He also cited that Health Canada claimed there were no negative impacts of cell towers on health.
The application failed 5-3 with only Boehlke, Hanson and Henn in support. I believe that for an application that contravenes policy to be approved, it needs overwhelming support from the affected community.
APPLICATION TO CHANGE DC BYLAW IN DIVISION 4 APPROVED
An application to approve three amendments to a Direct Control Bylaw in Langdon was approved 8-1. Councillor McKylor was the sole opposition.
The lands were redesignated Direct Control District in 1998 to allow for commercial uses such as gas bar, retail store, restaurant, business office and personal services. In 2018 an application for a restaurant (Dairy Queen) was approved with a building with 2 bays. This application sought to increase the application from 2 bays to 5, but to do so required a reduction in the parking area requirement.
Local Councillor, Deputy Reeve Schule initially had some concerns with the reduced parking. However, after Administration clarified their rationale for supporting the proposed changes, he recommended approving the application. I also had some concerns with regards to the impact of parking on the surrounding residential neighbourhood; however, it was explained that the restaurant was built with additional capacity that could handle overflow. As such, I supported the motion.
APPLICATION TO CREATE TWO 25-ACRE LOTS APPROVED IN DIV 6
An application to create two 25-acre parcels with a 101-acre remainder was approved in division 6. Administration recommended approval.
The application sought to create new and distinct land uses on all of the parcels – new and remaining. The proposed uses were a u-pick berry farm, u-pick orchard, pheasant farm and farmers’ market. A fishing pond and hydroponic facility were also being considered.
Each 25-acre parcel created two long strips – one at the north end, the other at the south end of the parcel. While I would have liked to see the land divided a little more thoughtfully, the berries and trees had already been planted. The application met policy and was approved unanimously.
SUBDIVISION APPLICATION IN DIVISION 2 HELD AT FIRST READING
A subdivision application to create 10 parcels ranging in size from 1.98 to 3.08-acres was held at first reading. Due to the number of letters in opposition and the outstanding question about water servicing, local councillor McKylor asked to have the application held while the applicant works with the local water co-op to discuss potential servicing options. Her motion was supported unanimously. The application will come back later this year.
COUNCILLOR GAUTREAU TO APOLOGIZE FOR BREACHES TO CODE OF CONDUCT
Councillor Gautreau was sanctioned for breaching the Code of Conduct. The punishment for the breach is that he will have to make two apologies at the January 28th Council meeting. I will have more details in that council session’s update.
AMENDMENTS TO SUBDIVISION AUTHORITY AND LAND USE BYLAW
Due to the creation of the Municipal Planning Commission, changes to the subdivision authority bylaw and land use bylaw were necessary. The amendments made the Municipal Planning Commission the subdivision authority for applications that are currently considered by Council; and, removed variance restrictions in the Land Use Bylaw to provide more flexibility to the Municipal Planning Commission when considering development permit applications. The amendments were approved unanimously.
MUNICIPAL PLANNING COMMISSION APPOINTMENTS AND REMUNERATION
The creation of the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) requires that Council determine its membership, who its chair/vice-chair will be and whether members should receive remuneration.
Currently, Councillors Henn and McKylor sit on the Subdivision and Development Appeal Board (SDAB). The Municipal Government Act mandates that anyone making the planning decisions that the MPC will be making cannot be appointed to the SDAB. Council needed to decide if McKylor and Henn should remain on the SDAB or if the Commission should include all of council, or if the MPC should include members-at-large as well as councillors.
Council decided that the Commission would start with all of Council other than Henn and McKylor, who opted to stay on the SDAB. I didn’t agree with this as I believe all of Council should be on the Commission in the beginning to gain an understanding of how it works. Council also supported keeping it to council members only, at least for the first few months. We will revisit the matter at the next organizational meeting in October.
In terms of remuneration, Boehlke, Hanson, Kissel and I made it clear we would not support receiving additional payment for sitting on a board that we believe is a councillor’s responsibility. Henn said we shouldn’t make any hasty decisions rather test the waters before we decide. This decision will come back to Council for review.
When it came time to select the Chair, Councillor Gautreau was nominated. I nominated Councillor Hanson. However, I was challenged by Henn who stated the three sanctioned councillors are not permitted on MPC. When I challenged his statement, I was advised by Administration that we were not permitted on any boards or committees per the sanctions. In my opinion, removing us from this board is a direct contravention of the MGA, in that this board is a decision-making body where all planning decisions other than land use redesignations will be made. Furthermore, the terms of reference include all Council members. Something for the courts to decide. Schule was acclaimed as vice-chair.
NOTICES OF MOTION TO PLACE MORATORIUM ON OFF-SITE LEVIES AND ALLOW FOR DEVELOPER FUNDED ASPs
Councillor Gautreau and Deputy Reeve Schule introduced two notices of motion. The first directs Administration to outline the estimated financial impacts of a three-year moratorium of the collection of all off-site levies for development within the County. Administration is being asked to report back to Council on May 12, 2020.
The second notice of motion requests that Administration prepare amendments to the County Plan to allow a development proponent to prepare a new area structure plan or amendment to an area structure plan, subject to a Council-adopted terms of reference. Both notices of motion will be debated on January 28th.
OMNIBUS ON FIRST READINGS
In my last update, I advised you that the format for first readings had changed. Under the new format, applications are brought forward for first reading to evaluate whether they have sufficient merit to come to public hearing. This week, we had 11 applications. Reeve Boehlke had asked that they all be brought forward and voted on through an omnibus motion (all voted on at once).
Councillor Hanson had some issues with one of the applications and asked that it be removed from the omnibus motion. Council voted to accept the others through an omnibus motion in a vote of 8-1. I was the lone exception. Frequently, our agendas are over 600 pages (next week’s is almost 1,200 pages). In my opinion, hearing a brief presentation on each application doesn’t hurt anyone. If nothing else, it provides additional reassurances to our ratepayers that we are not rushing our decision-making.
Boehlke stated that the city uses omnibus motions. However, when I asked if the city had criteria around which applications are done that way, Administration said they didn’t know. There didn’t seem to be any appetite from my colleagues to find out. None of the applications were in Division 8.