Levy bylaw won’t materialize until May

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Coun. Cathy Heron's attempt to speed up process voted down

A new off-site levies bylaw won’t be ready until sometime next year despite one city councillor’s efforts to speed up the process.

The bylaw has been in the works for months and will reconfigure the portion of new infrastructure costs that will be paid by developers.

At Monday night’s council meeting Coun. Cathy Heron wanted to set a January date for those working on the bylaw to come to council to ask for its direction. Heron pushed for the deadline despite assurances by city staff at the deadline couldn’t be met. This assurance came from Curtis Cundy, general manager of planning and engineering, and Todd Wyman, member of the city’s growth initiative team.

“It won’t leave us enough time to do what needs to be done,” Cundy said.

Heron’s motion was defeated 6-1 by the rest of council. She was cut off twice by Mayor Nolan Crouse as she expressed her concerns about how long the process was taking.

“I’m just trying to move it along and I guess my problem is I thought it was coming to us in the fall,” Heron said.

The city has been re-examining how much and for what it will charge developers for new development. It has been working with the Urban Development Institute to draft a new bylaw. Earlier this year council approved a group of guiding principles that will form the basis of a new bylaw.

Council’s last crack at an off-site levies bylaw in 2009 left developers on the hook for 95 per cent of costs for water reservoirs, pumphouses and other growth infrastructure. Taxpayers would be on the hook for the remaining five per cent.

The city is revisiting the bylaw as part of its push to expand economic development, fearing the up-front costs are driving developers away.

The timeline has also been especially tight and fluid. Last year Wyman indicated he hoped to have the bylaw ready by the end of summer, but has instead had to revise the schedule as the city consults with all landowners in the area.

“I would suggest once the review is complete we would then have to re-examine the changes we will have to adopt,” Wyman said.

In November council will receive an update on the schedule of work that remains to be completed. It’s hoped that third reading of a bylaw could take place in May 2013.

Rick Preston, executive director of UDI, said he thinks that process can be greatly accelerated.

“We can make considerable headway in the next couple of weeks,” Preston said.

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