March 28/23 Council Update
WILLOW RANCH CONCEPT SCHEME APPROVED 5-2
In September 2021, due to overwhelming neighbour opposition, the previous Council referred the Willow Ranch Concept Scheme back to Administration to address concerns about servicing, traffic, overland drainage, and environmental impacts. In response, the applicant decreased the number of lots from 13 to 12, updated the stormwater plan, provided a traffic memo, and an improved solution to dealing with overland drainage. Despite these amendments, neighbours remained opposed to the project.
Located in Division 1, the 30-acre property has 13 identified wetlands and neighbours
contended that meeting Alberta Environment approvals for the proposal should be done prior to the application’s approval as flooding is an issue in the area. They also cited concerns with the location of the road access (close to a barrier over a steep embankment).
The applicant’s consultant asserted that the revised proposal would not only address concerns with water on his property but the community at large. He also stated the traffic concerns were unwarranted as the proposal met County engineering standards.
Local Councillor Hanson made a motion to approve the application citing the revised
application had the potential to fix the community’s water issues and which, contrary to the beliefs of the surrounding neighbours, could be a win for the whole community. His motion was supported 5-2 with Councillor Kochan and me in opposition.
MASTER RATES BYLAW APPROVED
The Master Rates Bylaw consolidates the fees and charges assigned to certain County Services and is typically reviewed annually. Key changes to the bylaw include: overall improved wording; clarification and explanation of fees for building permits; increasing fees for cemetery services; clarification of fees for FOIPP; new fees and fee increases to planning applications; and, a 10% fee increase for County water and wastewater services.
Administration also recommended including Harmony in our curbside garbage collection
program. Since Council has never discussed expanding the program, which is currently only offered to Langdon residents, I felt the initiative was premature. This sentiment was obviously shared by Council as my motion to have the program expansion removed from the Bylaw was supported unanimously. Before we expand servicing, there needs to be a solid business case outlining how and why the County should do so. Rather than taking a piecemeal approach to expansion, it seems better to have an overall plan, especially since there are other communities that are interested in the program.
The conversation also resulted in Councillor Kochan bringing forward a rising motion to report on the County’s Utility Financial Model complete with a long-term strategy that recognizes best practices in rate selling, long term capital obligations and unified rates versus individual rates. His motion was supported unanimously.
BLUERIDGE PARKING LOT TO BE CONSIDERED IN 2024 BUDGET DISCUSSIONS
As part of the 2023 budget discussions, Mayor Kissel also requested that the parking lot for the Lasso Trail along Blueridge Rise be reviewed to provide greater access and an additional 25 parking stalls to reduce the unsafe and congested parking in the area.
Administration estimates it will cost $250,000 to provide a graveled parking lot adjacent to the existing access and lot. However, the project was not identified as a priority in the Recreation and Parks Master Plan, nor does it have a matching funding partner, which is encouraged under County Policy. As a result, Administration recommended deferring the matter to the 2024 budget discussions.
While Administration noted that this could potentially advance the project ahead of other
identified priorities, Council voted to include the matter in the 2024 budget discussions. In my opinion, the County might have anticipated that the existing parking lot had become
insufficient for the level of usage. As for a requirement for matching funding, considering this is a parking lot for a County owned trail, who would be matching the funding?
BEARSPAW SUBDIVISION APPLICATION APPROVED
An application to subdivide a 19.4-acre parcel into 4 parcels ranging in size from 4-acres to 5.8 acres was approved unanimously. Administration recommended approval.
The parcel located along Meadow Drive is zoned R-RUR which allows for 3.95-acre parcels. The applicant revised the original application from 5 lots to 4 to comply with policy.