By Tim Kalinowski
Council accepted staff recommendations to increase offsite levy rates in all three hamlets. Council was told according to an engineering study tabled at the Feb. 16 council meeting that the county could potentially charge up to a maximum of $140,271 per hectare in Dunmore, $55,200 per lot in Irvine and $116,155 per lot in Walsh in offsite levy fees to recoup their infrastructure investments in the communities.
Councillors, however, deemed those numbers unrealistic as no developer would likely pay such rates to build in the communities. They asked staff to come back with comparisons from similar jurisdictions in the region and to make some concrete recommendations on the numbers.
Upon examining several different rates and bylaws throughout southern Alberta, Jeffrey Dowling, planning supervisor for Cypress County, recommended the Dunmore offsite levy rate increase from $20,901.48 per hectare to $50,000 per hectare, (still far cheaper than Medicine Hat and most other similar size jurisdictions). That Irvine’s rate increase from a $3,000 flat connection fee for water and sewer to $5,500 per lot (comparable to Seven Persons). And that Walsh’s rate increase from a $2,000 flat connection fee for water to $3,500 per lot.
Council was satisfied with these recommendations and voted unanimously to accept them.
Councillors also had a good chuckle when Dowling suggested that at the rate charged to Walsh it would probably take the county about 600 years to recoup its infrastructure costs in the hamlet.
A local landowner in the Finn’s Lake area northeast of Medicine Hat asked councillors to allow her to rezone a portion of her property from Agricultural District 2 to Country Residential at last Tuesday’s council meeting. This was opposed by two neighbouring landowners, both of whom engage in agriculture, who said country residential development in the region had intensified the last number of years and had drained precious groundwater resources in the area, resulting in several wells going dry.
The landowner, who does not engage in agriculture herself nor live on the quarter section she owns, explained since she does not have a current residence on the quarter she did not need to ask council’s permission, according to its own policies, to build one as long as she retained the land. However, she was planning to sell most of the rest of the quarter and wanted to retain one small portion for a potential future country residential development for her family to build on in the future. That was why she was seeking a rezoning classification.
After the public hearing, councillors agreed the landowner was correct in her interpretation, and that they could not bar her application despite the neighbours’ concerns. Council was also satisfied that the rest of the quarter would likely be sold and remain in agricultural usage. The vote to accept was 8-1 in favour.
Albert road cycling tour a no-go in Cypress County
Council received a delegation from Duane Vienneau, a representative of Tour Alberta, at last Tuesday’s meeting. Vienneau was trying to gauge potential support from councillors for bringing the world famous road cycling race through Cypress County. He had already met with the City of Medicine Hat to try to convince councillors there to host one leg of the six day road race, (similar to the Tour De France,) for a cost of $250,000 this coming September. Vienneau was also hoping to convince Cypress County council to throw in some portion of that funding as most of the race, if it were to go forward, would take place in Cypress County.
Vienneau said the race would be seen by 47 million people worldwide in 161 countries, and could give good exposure to the county and help propel its tourism strategy to the next level.
It was an exciting pitch, but councillors remained skeptical that the county would receive any direct financial benefits from the race— with most of those accruing to the City of Medicine Hat for the suggested price tag of $50,000. Councillors were also uncertain of the intangible benefits to Cypress County from the race, such as broader exposure, county ratepayers’ level of interest and promises of local advertising built into the broadcast by race organizers.
In the end, council opted not to fund the race at this time.