By Kenyon Stronski
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Two bylaws passed through Taber town council’s hands at their March 14 regular meeting — the first being Bylaw 2-2022 to amend Land Use Bylaw 13-2020.
According to Subdivision and Development Officer Katie Schlamp, the bylaw is what’s known as a ‘living document’. Meaning the bylaw may require regular updates to fix pieces of legislation or address new areas that are required as a community grows.
“As such, we’ve proposed Bylaw 2-2022 to amend the Land Use Bylaw. The proposed amendment addresses clerical errors and gaps not previously addressed. It also fixes some errors that we have noticed over the past year and a half of using the bylaw, such as references to the wrong section of the bylaw and incorrect wording,” explained Schlamp. “Additionally we have proposed changes that will make the bylaw more clear for readers such as clarifying the maximum floor area for accessory structures and adding and updating parking requirements. We have also proposed increasing the maximum driveway width to decrease the amount of applications going to the municipal planning commission for waivers, allowing shipping containers on a temporary basis in residential areas for moving or renovations and clarifying rules around the usage or portable signs for community events. During election times to eliminate many signs in one area and decrease distractions to driving, administration has also proposed limiting signage to one sign per candidate every 15 metres but all other rules around signs remain the same.”
A few more changes were also added, such as a solar energy collector system use that allows administration to issue development permits for solar panels.
“It would allow us to keep a record as to which properties have solar panels so they may be aware of an electrical fire while attending calls,” continued Schlamp. “Administration has also proposed apiaries to allow beekeeping in the institutional and recreational district. This will provide regulations around apiculture and we have also added a slab-on-grade house. This will allow a home of a similar size and finish of the area to be built without a basement. Parking requirements in the DC4 district have changed so recreational vehicles are not required to be parked on a paved surface but still a hard surface such as gravel. Lastly, administration has updated the use definition of childcare to remove the clause that states overnight childcare is not permitted. If we receive first reading today, we will proceed with holding a public hearing at the March 28 council meeting and then potentially move to second and third reading.”
Coun. Garth Bekkering opened with his question, commenting he believed the changes were for the better, however. was slightly concerned about the number six point addressing the shipping container placements. “How temporary is temporary?”
“Up to six months, and we won’t require a permit but if we receive a complaint then we’ll have to ask them to prove when it was put there. But still giving people that ability to move things out if they want to make changes or move to another home. We wanted to provide flexibility but make sure it’s not a permanent fixture,” explained Schlamp.
Coun. Alf Rudd was next, saying, “I was glad to see number 11 adding the slab on grade houses. Just for clarification on the parking requirements for recreation vehicles, this is done in anticipation of future development but not on each common lot?”
“That is correct — there is not currently a place for recreation vehicles at the Meadows, but they could apply to amend that outline plan and put in an area if they chose to change the design of the neighbourhood,” said Schlamp.
Coun. Jack Brewin voiced his concerns over point number six as well.
“I also had a concern about number six regarding the seacans. I think we’re opening up a can of worms by allowing them to be in residential areas and it doesn’t specify driveway or backyard, and that one concerns me. I think it’s always been a rule to not allow them and that would be one I’d like to not see in the bylaw, that we don’t allow them in residential areas at all. I could perhaps see the need for a seacan at a commercial site where there are lots of tools, but I don’t recall ever seeing a seacan in a lot where they’re building a home. Moving a seacan in isn’t just hooking up, it’s either hoisted in or slid off a trailer. I don’t think it’s practical myself.”
“The intention wouldn’t be for the development stage for a new home, it would be if you were remodelling a home or moving to a new home,” clarified Schlamp. “There are businesses where rather than getting a moving truck you can get a seacan they drop it off, you fill it up and they can bring it to your new home or they store it. This is just for sure someone isn’t ordering that seacan, letting it sit for more than six months and then finally moving it. But also would allow them to use space that service while being within the rules of the land use bylaw.”
Bekkering echoedBrewin’s concerns, “Yeah, regarding shipping containers, in my view, I am not opposed to them. However, I am concerned about the length of time. I think six months is too long, but I think we can leave it at the first reading and listen to the feedback.”
Brewin then added, “Mr. Bekkering covered a lot what I was concerned with, I don’t want to see neighbours bringing their seacan’s in and doing their bathroom renovations for the next three years or something because there’s not usually a timeline put on that, so I think if we do allow that there should be some really tight standards. Not just someone saying something, but a strict rule saying from this date to that date.”
Mayor Andrew Prokop then inquired if there was already such a rule in place, to which Schlamp responded there was not — and they are currently not permitted.
The first reading of the bylaw passed unopposed.
The Investment Incentive Bylaw 1-2022 was then brought forth to council for its second and third readings. Economic Development Officer Amy Allred presented the bylaw.
“In the last council meeting, a resolution was made to pass the first reading of the Investment Incentive Bylaw, this bylaw offers a municipal tax incentive to new or existing and expanding local businesses on a tiered scale over five years. This will help us to compete with other municipalities, offer incentives to help local businesses grow, and draw in new incentives. As asked by Councillor (Joanne) Sorensen at the last meeting, there are a number of criteria that apply to applicants such as they must have an ownership interest in the property, the property must be non-residential and located within the limits of the town, they must have no outstanding monies owed to the town and should their accounts fall during the period the agreement will be voided,” Allred explained. “The application must be received before the issuance of a building permit and all other permits must be in place as well as full compliance with things such as fire codes. For expanding businesses the application must make a capital investment to expand, improve or renovate the non-residential property resulting in an increased assessed value of at least 25 per cent by the end of year two when the development permit was issued. This allows all businesses big or small to be eligible to apply and the tax incentive for expanding businesses applies only to the increased portion of their taxes. Administration is presenting this bylaw for discussion and possible second and third readings.”
Brewin brought forth the concern of 100 per cent exemption for the first two years may be a little much, however, Allred explained that it was comparable with other municipalities.
The bylaw passed its second and third reading unanimously.