The Town of Stettler council approved a study that proposed a higher fee to pay wastewater costs for future development on currently vacant land.
That decision, and first reading of an associated off-site levies by-law, also occurred at the April 5 regular meeting of council.
Councillors heard a presentation of the master servicing study by two senior managers in the town structure, Director of Operational Services Melissa Robbins and Director of Planning and Development Leann Graham.
A report in the agenda from Robbins explained why this document is quite important to the town’s future growth.
“The study is a detailed report that includes a total evaluation of the transportation, water, wastewater, and storm infrastructure that currently exists within the town and surrounding county lands,” stated Robbins in her memo.
“The report will be a resource available to staff/developers when evaluating capacity needs of the existing system, upgrades to consider when completing replacements, plus provides initial engineering information to start the design process for future development.”
Robbins explained the study examined the vacant lands in Stettler and what services, including water, transportation and sewer, those lands would need when developed in the future. Of course the question of who will pay for those improvements and how they will be paid are factors in such a study.
During her presentation Robbins noted Stettler’s road system appears to be capable of handling years of growth, and the same was generally said for the town’s water system. Storm water retention ponds were mentioned in the study as a major way of handling nature’s bounty.
However, when the plan came to the subject of wastewater this is when things got serious.
The report stated Town of Stettler staff recommended wastewater collection upgrades to both lift stations A and B totalling $6,144,617.
It was noted in the report off-site levies, generally speaking a fee placed on development to pay for future infrastructure, was key.
At this point Graham took over. She noted the Town of Stettler introduced their first off-site levy bylaw, similar to those employed by municipalities across Alberta, some years ago, and councillors kept it at a $5,000 limit with only use one levy amount for everyone to keep things fair. However, looking at the $6 million wastewater upgrades projected for future growth, more money would be needed.
Calculations revealed the off-site levy amount for future development on specific undeveloped lands should be $6,555 per acre to cover the bill. Graham noted several times the off-site levy funds would be kept in a separate account and used only for the wastewater upgrades.
The philosophy behind off-site levies is, generally speaking, future residents should pay for the infrastructure they’ll need, and those costs shouldn’t be lain at the feet of current residents who’ve already paid for existing infrastructure. Developers pay the levy and it’s assumed those costs are passed on to buyers when the property changes hands.
Councillors unanimously approved the master services study and also unanimously approved first reading of bylaw 2148-22, off-site levies for wastewater infrastructure.
The bylaw will now be publicly advertised and the results of public consultation will be considered by councillors at a future meeting.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism initiative reporter