Big Valley village council approves one per cent tax hike

Written by Stu Salkeld

Property owners in the Village of Big Valley will see little to no increase in their tax bills this year after councillors approved what amounts to a one per cent tax increase overall. The decision was made at the April 13 regular meeting of council.

Councillors read a report from Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Elaine Macdonald noting that a one per cent overall increase on property taxes will cover the village’s 2023 budget.

Macdonald noted in her report that assessed property values in Big Valley dropped year to year from 2022 by a small amount, and the property tax increase will raise enough money for the budget to remain unchanged.

She stated that the overall one per cent property tax increase won’t be very noticeable when it is compared to every $100,000 in property value.

The CAO provided a report showing the mill rate breakdown for different zoning categories. Readers should note the mill rate, along with property value, is used by municipalities to calculate tax bills.

The residential and farmland rate was listed as 11.3569, the non-residential/commercial was 11.4961 and machinery/equipment was listed as 12.0705.
Macdonald also noted the village is obligated to collect several requisitions for other levels of government, including education tax, and the village council has no control over those costs.

Councillors unanimously approved all readings to bring the 2023 tax rate bylaw into effect.

Snow concern
Mayor Dan Houle requested councillors consider asking the Public Works department prepare a snow removal manual for future reference after complaints and concerns about snow removal in the village over the past winter.

Houle suggested a document laying out how snow removal is expected to be conducted would help everyone in the short and long term.

Houle stated he was concerned alleys had too much snow on them this year. The mayor added he appreciated local volunteers pitching in to remove snow but liability is a real risk for the village in those cases although he knows volunteers wouldn’t intend to do any damage.

The CAO stated Big Valley’s current snow removal policy may have played a role in the difficulties. She stated the policy instructs village staff remove snow from Main Street and Railway Ave. when it hits one inch in depth.

Macdonald noted this amount means, in times of heavy snowfall, staff are constantly plowing those two main roads and can’t get anywhere else.

Coun. Amber Hoogenberg asked if the CAO knew what depth other municipalities used as a marker. Macdonald responded others usually use three to six inches and not all plow residential alleys either.

Councillors unanimously agreed through resolution to add a new snow plow priority map to the policy and also to change the mandatory snow depth on Main Street and Railway Ave. from one inch to three inches.

Unsightly premises
Coun. German stated he wanted to discuss the village’s nuisance abatement policy, which includes situations such as unsightly premises. German noted this is the time of year when snow melts and the bylaw officer may tour the village looking for unsightly problems.

German added that he felt there were some properties in town that need some tidying up and wondered if the current policy includes the necessary rules.

For example German noted the policy forbids abandoned vehicles but doesn’t mention how many abandoned vehicles. He suggested councillors take the policy home and give it a detailed examination discussion it at a future meeting.

Bike riders
Councillors unanimously granted a request by a local organization to camp overnight on public property in Big Valley this summer.

Councillors read a letter from Canadian Northern Society’s Rich Graydon noting a Calgary biking group would like to make a pit stop in Big Valley on July 8 and 9.

“They would like to use the Big Valley train station and area as an overnight stopping spot for a weekend event,” stated Graydon’s letter. “I am requesting permission to use the Village of Big Valley property areas outlined on the attached map for the event we are hosting. We are prepared to take responsibility to ensure the property is not damaged and is left as it was found.”

Readers will note the property in question lies along the train tracks relatively close to Main Street.

Coun. Clark German noted he was happy that those involved already guaranteed the property will be left as it was found. German observed the visitors will support the local economy and have local helpers so he saw nothing wrong with the request.

Mayor Houle stated he had only one concern with the request and that was the possibility of open fires. Houle stated he would support the request with the proviso of no open fires allowed.

Councillors unanimously approved the request to use public property but noted no open fires would be allowed.

Stu Salkeld
Local Journalism Initiative reporter
ECA Review

About the author

Stu Salkeld

Stu Salkeld, who has upwards of 28 years of experience in the Alberta community newspaper industry, is now covering councils and other news in the Stettler region and has experience working in the area as well.

He has joined the ECA Review as a Local Journalism Initiative Journalist.

Stu earned his two-year diploma in print journalism from SAIT in Calgary from 1993 to ’95 and was raised in Oyen, Alta., one of the communities within the ECA Review’s coverage area.