Live/work applications approved, Canna Park application tabled, resolution for council disputes
TWO APPLICATIONS FOR LIVE/WORK APPROVED IN DIVISION 4 APPROVED
Two applications to redesignate Agricultural Holdings to Live/Work in Division 4 were approved. The applications were for a rental property owned by Councillor Jerry Gautreau and the rental property owned by his next-door neighbour. Councillor Gautreau recused himself from the hearings.
The live/work designation was introduced by Councillor Gautreau earlier in our term. It was designed to allow those who want to operate businesses outside the scope of a Home-Based Business to do so on their residential property. The requirements are that the property remains predominantly residential, be immediately adjacent to commercial/industrial development, be located within the East Central Rocky View Corridor, and that an individual involved in the business resides on the property.
Neither property is adjacent to a commercial/industrial property. As well, six neighbours wrote letters of opposition stating that these properties had been the subjects of previous enforcement action. According to the Administrative report, Gautreau initially tried to redesignate his property in 2009, with an application for a porta-potty business. Then, he made a second application in 2015 for RV storage. Both applications were unsuccessful.
In my view, the applications were questionable in terms of whether they met the requirement to be primarily residential in nature. Both properties allocated 50% of their land to the business, with an additional 30% for a stormwater pond that was only required because of the change to live/work. That left 20% for residential use. Furthermore, the County Plan states that all business development, which includes live/work, should have access to a paved road – these properties access a gravel road.
The application passed 7-2 with Councillors Hanson and me in opposition. Given the level of opposition from neighbours, I didn’t feel it was appropriate to approve the applications. Live/Work is a permanent change to the land use. In both cases, redesignation to live/work is being used to make the properties compliant with County policy. They were deemed non-compliant in the first place because the neighbours complained about questionable business activities on these properties and County enforcement concluded that those activities did not comply with land use restrictions for the properties. A change of this nature should require overwhelming support from the community. It should also follow all applicable rules, especially given that the policy is so new.
CANNA PARK APPLICATION IN DIVISION 5 TABLED
An application to adopt the Canna Park Conceptual Scheme in Division 5 was tabled. The application was originally scheduled for July. However, it was pulled from the agenda, under the assumption the applicant wanted time to address the deficiencies Administration had noted within the proposed conceptual scheme. However, the application for the September 22nd was unchanged.
The lands are in a unique area. The Janet ASP focuses on industrial and commercial developments, however this quarter section is predominantly residential and is zoned as transitional in the ASP. The ASP requires a concept scheme for the entire transition area before development is approved within that area. The concept scheme is to provide supporting land use rationale, identify existing constraints and opportunities, and plan the management of future development in the area.
At the start of their presentation, the applicant’s consultant distributed a revised version of the concept scheme, noting that due to some challenges they had not been able to submit it earlier. He then spoke to the revised concept scheme at the public hearing. Administration made it clear that they had not had any time to review the revised application and, hence, could not provide advice on whether it addressed the shortcomings in the earlier application.
There was some debate amongst Council as to why a conceptual scheme was required for this application. Local Councillor Gautreau and Deputy Reeve Schule suggested that the applicant should not have to do a concept scheme because there appeared to be little community buy-in about what should happen on the quarter section. However, CAO Hoggan reminded Council again that since Administration had not reviewed the revised document, it was impossible to assess the application. Gautreau tabled the motion. His motion passed 5-2 with all but Schule and Councillor McKylor in support. Councillors Kamachi and Kissel were absent.
RESOLUTION FOR MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS TO CREATE A PROCESS FOR COUNCIL DISPUTES
On Administration’s recommendation, Council unanimously approved asking the Rural Municipalities of Alberta to support a resolution asking Municipal Affairs to create a dispute resolution process for councillor sanction and disqualification disputes that could be used as an alternative to legal actions. Administration described the current process as “costly, time-consuming and combative”.
The Code of Conduct for Councillors was mandated by the Province in 2017. The provincial requirements for these codes of conduct include the ability for councils to impose sanctions on councillors. However, the province did not provide any review mechanism. As a result, if the majority on a council refuses to use mediation services, legal action is the only way to resolve these issues.
I have said previously that Municipal Affairs needs to provide a review mechanism, like an integrity commissioner, to oversee Councils’ applications of the Code of Conduct. This resolution seeks such a mechanism. The resolution would still allow for court challenges should either party not agree with the decision rendered by Municipal Affairs.
In a motion arising, Councillor Hanson noted that Municipal Affairs already provides mediation services for councils through the Collaborative Governance Initiative. Given this, and the resolution’s identification of legal action as combative and not always in the best financial interest of municipalities, he asked that Council seek mediation services from Municipal Affairs; that the 30% reduction in pay imposed on Councillors Hanson, Kissel and me during the sanctions be reinstated; and, that the County cease all legal actions against the three of us.
In response to Hanson’s motion, Deputy Reeve Schule called a point of order. After some confusion, Reeve Boehlke called a recess to discuss the motion with the CAO. On his return, Boehlke stated that the Procedure Bylaw requires that a motion arising must be directly related to the previous discussion/motion. He ruled that Hanson’s motion was not related to the RMA resolution and the motion was removed without vote or debate.