Forestburg community growth incentive working

Wanda School, west of Forestburg, Alta. ECA Review/T.Huxley
Written by Terri Huxley

As of the last Forestburg council meeting on Thurs. July 2, the village has seen three new buyers thanks to the community growth incentive policy.

This policy was created earlier in the year after the idea was spurred by Dep. Mayor Bob Coutts to have an incentive on utility bills and such to give more people a reason to live in Forestburg.

A request has been received from the owners of 5413 – 47 Avenue W for a $500 utility credit with regards to the Community Growth Incentive Policy.

The property owner indicates in his/her application that they have invited a family of two to relocate and purchase a home located at 4807 – 49 Street in Forestburg. 

Council approved the residential growth incentive of $500 and applied the sum to their utility account.

Special council meeting/hearing

Council held a special meeting following a public hearing about the land use bylaw changes on Thurs. June 25.

The panel of four councillors unanimously agreed to allow for Plan 9920067; Block 7; Lot 3 (4310 – 47 Street S) to be rezoned from industrial to a direct control district after hearing from a single county resident who attended.

Council approved the first reading on June 4, 2020.

It was noted the rezoning of this land will have no impact on the future development of the site, even if the village is not successful in obtaining the thermal treatment plant.

All development permit applications for the parcel would be reviewed by council, rather than the Municipal Planning Commission, which would ensure that there could be no appeal launched against the permit.

Farvolden Building planter/roof repairs

A need to have the Farvolden building planter and roof repaired has reached a peak.

The 2020 operating budget includes $3,520 to repoint the brickwork on the Farvolden Building planter but administration and public works have requested that council consider modifying the planter by reducing the height to allow for safer access to the planting area.

A quote for $9,100 was received from Roma Masonry Inc. for removing 2 ft. of brick from the planters on the west and south side of the building.

Administration asked council to hold off on the repairs until 2021 before planting season so this amount could be added to the budget as the funds were not expended for this year.

“Our budget is getting hammered this year,” said CAO Moffat.

Coun. Coutts said he was nervous about changing the planter and questioned if the work was really necessary to do.

Moffat had spoken with members of the Communities in Bloom (CiB) committee who are ‘not spring chickens anymore’ as they are typically the ones doing all the work.

The planter, being hard to access at a tall height has become a safety hazard for both the CiB volunteers and public works staff for planting and rototilling.

ATB mentioned they prefer the planter there as it makes the ATM less accessible.

Council agreed to defer the repairs to 2021 and did not decide on whether to lower the planter two feet or not at this time.

On May 21, 2020, administration had issues with the roof of the Farvolden Building leaking in three different locations.

Emergency patchwork has been done already but a more concrete solution was required.

The last time it was replaced was in 2006.

Council discussed the issue and reviewed the initial quote during the June 4, 2020 council meeting and directed administration to obtain a second quote for the repair. 

Since then, two bids have come in. 

Council accepted the recommendation by administration to go with Remstar Roofing for $71,505.78 with a buffer of up to $90,000 for any additional work if needed.

CAO Moffat anticipates they will start work this week.

Police downloading costs

Effective last year, all municipalities are now responsible for a portion of the costs related to the additional 500 RCMP and support staff being brought into Alberta.

The costs begin at $15,198 for 2020, $22,813 for next year, $30,396 for 2022 and $45,627 for 2023 and beyond.

Although these costs have been downloaded to municipalities, there have been no options made available for how to fairly distribute these costs to residents and businesses.

At this time Alberta Municipal Affairs is stating that the policing costs cannot be recovered through utility bills or a flat tax.

Coun. Fossen requested that council start a letter writing campaign to the Province of Alberta requesting that they be allowed to recover the costs through utility bills or a flat tax as it would allow municipalities to fairly distribute the costs throughout the community.

If a flat tax is used, any non-taxable properties (school, seniors housing, churches) would not be responsible for covering any of the cost of a service that is being provided to all.

However, a flat tax would be beneficial to rural municipalities that do have access to a utility billing system. 

Administration felt that adding these costs to their municipal tax rate is unfair to those property owners with higher assessments, as all residents would be receiving the same level of service from the RCMP.

Fossen spoke with lots of people with this since the news broke.