Off-site levies bylaw passed
Bylaw includes new water infrastructure funding split
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 07, 2013 06:00 am
St. Albert has a new offsite levies bylaw.
Council passed all three readings of the new bylaw during their meeting on Tuesday. The new bylaw, which revises the rates paid by developers for new city infrastructure put in due to new developments, contains changes to the water infrastructure funding split between developers and the city and updates the rates, completing a review that has been underway since 2011.
Under the new bylaw, developers will now pay 100 per cent of the cost for new water reservoirs. New water transmission lines will be split between the city and developers, and the city will pay 25 per cent of the cost of the new liens. Director of engineering Tracy Allen said previous residents will benefit from the new connections, which is why the city will share the cost with the developers.
Council passed several motions unanimously, with Coun. Cam MacKay absent. The motions included the three readings of the bylaw, a recommendation that the offsite levy bylaw incorporate the water infrastructure funding principle, a motion to allocate $12.2 million in current offsite levy receipts held by the city in accordance with suggestions in the report, a recommendation administration work with the development industry to create a voluntary levy to support capital infrastructure not covered by legislation and, finally, that the administration develop a strategy on over-sizing/excess capacity and report back to council.
“Having the development pay for the reservoirs makes sense,” said Coun. Len Bracko.
Allen told council the city would prefer to see debt sharing implementation be deferred to sort out complexity around the issue. When it comes to offset levy receipts currently held by the city for payments already made in construction of projects, Allen’s report said two parties – the city and one developer – were affected and suggested transferring the $12.2 million in funds to capital reserves for council to provide direction on later.
Two people spoke to council about the bylaw during the meeting. Former mayor Richard Plain spoke at the beginning of the meeting, suggesting the city immediately request voluntary contributions to capital infrastructure funds.
“As matters currently stand every residential development that occurs in St. Albert is contributing to a growing unfunded recreation liability,” Plain said. “Nothing can be gained from pursuing the present policy of not asking.”
Plain said it was clear from the report that there are some “major financial issues” regarding front-ending infrastructure, and that no one has the answer on how to address the issue.
Jim Sheasgreen, representing developer Landrex, asked council to put off passing the bylaw for a few weeks to address some of the company’s concerns. While many concerns were technical issues, he said, they also asked to resolve the matter of debt sharing now rather than 2014, but were prepared to deal with it in 2014 as long as offsetting levy receipts was not approved.
“We do not wish to belabour or prolong the bylaw any longer than necessary, however, we should get this right,” Sheasgreen said.
Several other recommendations regarding the offsite levy bylaw were approved by council in March 2013. Administration will be bringing related policies forward to council at a later date, including a debt-sharing policy and a front-ending policy.