By Justin Seward
Council passed all three readings of Bylaw 2020/10- Amend Tax Penalties during its April 21 virtual meeting. Administration recommended that council defer penalties for the current year to Dec. 1. The option imposed a 7.5 per cent penalty on that day rather than a 2.5 per cent penalty on July 1 and a five per cent penalty on Nov. 1.
Taxes are due June 30 but penalties will not apply until Dec. 1.
“This provides rate payers with a deferment of five months to bring their taxes
for the current year into a good standing,” said the county’s director of corporate services.
“Arrears amounts from prior years would still be subject to penalties as per Bylaw 2020/02.”
On Feb. 4, council passed Bylaw 2020/02 for the 2020 taxation year; however, the province announced a tax relief for non-residential businesses in the form of a tax deferral on Education tax from April 1 to Sept. 30.
“Administration met to discuss a equitable way of rolling out a tax deferment program for all rate payers,” said the director of corporate services.
“Additionally administration considered the logistics of having different penalties for different sectors and the additional burden this put on administration.”
The director of corporate services said the county would have to employ Diamond to write a script to assess different penalties for municipal taxes vs. education tax.
Council approved the 2020 tax rates. Farmland taxes increased 0.7 per cent. The median change for residential taxes is none but there s varying differences within that overall number. Elkwater went up 4.4 per cent, Dunmore increased 0.4 per cent, Irvine decreased to minus 0.2 per cent and Desert Blume decreased 1.1 per cent. Seven Persons saw a minus 3.3 per cent and Suffield came in at minus 0.5 per cent. The remaining hamlets had nominal changes.
Non-residential business went up 4.8 per cent and the education tax went up 11 per cent.
“Now that they reduced the assessment for those shallow gas folk, they no longer have a big a share in the school tax, so everybody else has to pay for it,” said Steven Toews, county assessment supervisor.
Airport zoning regulations
Cypress County councilors passed the first reading of Bylaw 2020/08-Airport Zoning Regulation (English version).
The bylaw will see the county enter into the said agreement pursuant to the Aeronautics Act agreement with the City of Medicine Hat. The agreement would “allow for the county to enact bylaws to prohibit or regulate and control the use and development of land and buildings within county boundaries and adjacent to or in the vicinity of the airport for the purpose of ensuring that the use and development are not incompatible with the safe operation of an airport or aircraft.”
Furthermore, “while enacting such bylaws, council shall have due regard to the safety and welfare of the public, both as users of the airport and as members of the public, in or are passing through the vicinity of the airport.”
Council also passed first reading of the French version.
Coun. Dustin Vossler’s motion for the Strychnine resolution to the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) for Health Canada and the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) reinstate the use of 2 per cent Liquid Strychnine on a permanent basis to agricultural producers to utilize on their farms for control of Richardson ground squirrels and that Health Canada and PMRA provide an alternative solution that produces effective results in a financially responsible manner for continued control for Richardson ground squirrels.
Council also voted to have Vossler the mover of the motion during the 2020 RMA virtual resolution session on April 24.
The county learned at its last meeting that Health Canada and PMRA had cancelled the approved use of 2 per cent Strychnine. PMRA’s decision was based off of anecdotal assumptions and wants to phase out the spray, starting with making the product unavailable as of March 4, 2021, before banning it completely on March 4, 2023.
Public hearings by electronic means
Council decided to postpone doing public hearings by electronic means until administration can do more research and come back with more information.
Sandy Point Park
The Bader family’s request to pay for the purchase and installation of a memorial park bench and plaque for Mr. Doug Bader at the park’s boat launch and direct administration to coordinate with Blue IMP for the bench’s installation was approved by council.
Storage container regulations
Council approved for to bring forward the proposed Storage Container Regulation amendments at the time the Land Use Bylaw is brought forward.
The Municipal Planning Commission’s amendments included in discussion at their March 10 meeting and subjected to the development authority were: the proposed use is considered a permitted use or a discretionary use in the applicable land use district, storage container conversions will be able to meet all applicable Safety Code requirements. Additionally, the size shall not exceed a size of 8’ x 20’, the exterior appearance of the storage container must be changed in a way that it does not look like a storage container as originally constructed and instead matches or compliments the exterior finish and roof pitch on the subject lot. The storage container conversion may need a stamped engineer’s drawing showing how the unit will be converted. The storage container will only be used to store materials that would be found in an accessory building such as a garage, shops and garden sheds.
The amendments came after council was asked my MPC to review the storage regulation for hamlets as a Suffield resident wanted to put a sloped roof and siding on a 8’x20’ storage container and convert it into a storage shed.
Currently under the county’s Land use Bylaw 2018/04, it states that a “storage container will not be allowed as either a permitted or discretionary use in any of the Hamlet Residential Districts.”