Council Meeting Highlights for November 9, 2015


Big Brothers/Big Sisters
Big Brothers/Big Sisters representatives Crystal Zens, Darcy Stingel and Joey Ingram provided Council with an overview of the non-profit organization’s current efforts in proactively pursuing new premises suited to the specific needs of the organization’s work with youth. The group serves all of Lacombe County through a variety of programming, including in school mentoring.

Council was informed that Big Brothers/Big Sisters needs approximately 700 square feet in a wheelchair accessible location, with a target date for relocation by November 2016 to comply with their five-year accreditation requirements. CAO Norma MacQuarrie confirmed the City would continue to liaise with and assist the organization and Council members were informed the Big Brothers Big Sisters Christmas dinner and Awards Night was December 7 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Municipal Planning Commission (MPC) / Subdivision Development Appeal Board (SDAB) Concerns
Jonathan Jacobson from Broder Developments presented comments following a development permit application for a discretionary use four-plex with R4 zoning with substantial relaxations requested for lot coverage and amenity area and minor relaxations for side yard setbacks and parking.  The application was supported by administration but received substantial opposition from neighbors, and was denied by the MPC and after appeal, subsequently denied by the SDAB. 

Mr. Jacobson stated he respected the process and decision outcomes, but disagreed with past inconsistent decision making, and an application and adjudication process he believed was counter to Council plans to increase density and rental accommodation in the City of Lacombe. 
He stated the Municipal Development Plan (MDP), Housing Needs Assessment/Affordable Housing Strategy, and Downtown Area Redevelopment Plan (DARP) adopted by Council all require increased density through infill redevelopment in the downtown areas within walking distance of parks and amenities. The proposed project met the goals of these policies by bringing family sized rental accommodation to the City, was very near parks and schools, and within walking distance to the downtown amenities in a location designated for increased density development. Temporary conflict with the zone’s homeowners was to be expected, requiring communication and education to mitigate this.

Recent precedents were cited from prior MPC meetings.  A semi-detached building (stacked row house) with R4 zoning on the same sized lot was approved by MPC to have two legal suites, essentially making it a four-plex.  Mr. Jacobson contrasted his discretionary use application with an application for legal suites in the semi-detached home that were not permissible or discretionary uses in an R4 zone, and not supported by administration yet approved by MPC.  Another precedent was cited from the same MPC meeting for another application approved for the same plan, same lot size, and same relaxations requested, differing only in location and in zoning (R5 - mixed use transition district, versus the one denied in the R4 medium density transition district). He explained that the same densification is encouraged in both districts with commercial also being encouraged in R5, but the building proposed was a discretionary use in R4 and a permitted use in R5.

Mr. Jacobson stated that capital dislikes uncertainty and inconsistency, and drew parallels to energy project development contingent with consistent governance, suggesting difficulty for the planning department to respond to developer inquiries.  He suggested the cost of applications, land purchases and required design work would motivate developers to approach markets with consistent decision making with confidence.  He further commented on the effects of MPC and SDAB inconsistent decision making as toxic for the market. 

Mr. Jacobson recommended improvements to the knowledge base on City development boards through professional development.  He believed MPC and SDAB members should be aware of development principles and the goals, principles and objectives in MDP, DARP, Affordable Housing Initiative, and areas of the Land Use Bylaw conflicting with those goals. He stated it should not fall to the applicant to educate members on those policies. He also recommended a reduction in Council membership on MPC and SDAB, suggesting public members would better provide a full complement to hear applications. 

Mr. Jacobson strongly recommended a decision be made by Council to provide clear direction on how the medium density transition zone and mixed use transition zone districts are to be developed.  He referred to the planning department statement that the lot sizes in these zones do not accommodate the buildings they are zoned to build, suggesting Council rezone the areas to R1 if they do not want the areas to have increased density.  If density is desired to keep property taxes low, he stated the Land Use Bylaw needs to be adjusted to reflect this through amending the requirements in R4 and R5 to reflect this type of development or by a new type of zoning reflective of the uniqueness of the lot sizing. Clarifying the issue legislatively would create a stable environment for development and investment. 

Mr. Jacobson made a further recommendation for standardized decision making on both MPC and SDAB for consistency of decision making.  He drew parallels to the legal system – where decisions are made based on the law, precedent, and victim impact statements – by 1) asking how does an application fit with city housing and development policy - where does it align and conflict; 2) what is the precedent with this application and how recent; and 3) what are the neighbor comments. He suggested this order of priority would dramatically improve consistency of MPC and SDAB rulings and give board members a template to follow with difficult and contentious decisions, and allow for a reasonable and factual explanation to applicants and opponents on decisions made.  Mr. Jacobson proposed a higher weighting be applied to City approved policy and precedent than on neighbor comments. 

Mayor Christie confirmed mandatory training for all SDAB boards pending approval of the new Municipal Government Act.

Public Hearing

Bylaw 300.103 (R5 to P) St. Andrew’s United Church
A public hearing was held for an amendment to Land Use Bylaw 300 via Bylaw 300.103, a Bylaw of the City of Lacombe to allow re-designation of Lots 37-42, Block E, Plan 1900U (5226 51 Avenue-St. Andrew’s United Church) from High Density Residential (R5) to Public and Institutional use (P) districts.  The rezoning will allow continued operation as a place of worship and allow other uses for the structure.

Darryl Langille, St. Andrews Church Board Chair, spoke in favour of the rezoning from R5 (High Density Residential District) to P (Public and Institutional use District). None came forward in opposition to Bylaw 300.103. No parties came forward deemed to be affected by the proposed zoning change.

Financial Services

Bylaw 414 (Borrowing-Kinsmen Aquatic/Arena Project)
Council gave first reading to Bylaw 414 – a bylaw authorizing Council to incur indebtedness by the issuance of debenture(s) or bank loan in the amount of $4,839,140.00 for the purpose of carrying out all phases of the safety code upgrade construction project to the City of Lacombe’s Ice Arena and Aquaplex facilities – as presented.

10 Year Capital Plan
Council passed a resolution to receive the 2016-2025 Ten Year Capital Plan as information.

2015 Capital Quarterly Report
Council accept the Third Quarter 2015 Capital Update for information.

Planning & Development Services

Bylaw 300.103 (R5 to P)
Council approved Bylaw 300.103 – a bylaw to amend the Land Use Bylaw 300 by rezoning
Lots 37-42, Block E, Plan 1900U from High Density Residential District (R5) to Public and
Institutional Use District (P) and by amending the Place of Worship Overlay by deleting
Lots 37-42, Block E, Plan 1900U from the overlay – as presented after giving it second and third readings.

Bylaw 300.104 (R4 to P)
Council gave first reading to Bylaw 300.104 –  a bylaw to amend the Land Use Bylaw 300 by rezoning Lots 12 & N. Part 13, Plan RN9 (RN1X) from Medium Density Residential District (R4) to Public and Institutional Use District (P) and by amending the Place of Worship Overlay by deleting Lots 12 & N. Part 13, Plan RN9 (RN1X) from the overlay.  – as presented.

Council then directed Administration to hold a Public Hearing on Monday, December 14, 2015 at 5:30 p.m. to consider Bylaw 300.104.

58A Street Crescent Land Sale Proposal
Council directed Administration to sell the two westerly parcels to the parties that have agreed to buy them, and that administration send immediate notice requiring removal private possessions from the two easterly lots by end of June 2016.
Council & Legislative Services

Board and Committee Bylaw Updates
Council approved the following bylaws after giving them give third reading:

·       Bylaw 78.7 (Lacombe Police Commission)
·       Bylaw 46.9 (Lacombe and District Recreation, Parks and Culture Board)
·       Bylaw 229.3 (Subdivision and Development Appeal Board Bylaw)
·       Bylaw 391.1 (Lacombe Library Board Bylaw)
·       Bylaw 397.1 (Heritage Resources Committee)

Funding Request – Battle River Watershed Alliance
Council unanimously defeated a resolution to approve the expenditure in support of Battle River Watershed Alliance membership.

Environmental Services

Water Stabilization Report
Council directed Administration to pump and monitor Elizabeth Lake and Lake Anne for the next three years (2016 – 2018), share Stantec’s technical memorandum with the Developer and Landowner, and accept Stantec’s Memorandum as information.

Transportation Services

Fortis Purchase of Light Standards
Council directed Administration to sell the street lights along Highway 2A to Fortis at a cost of $324,261 and to allocate $125,000 of the funds received to the 2016 Operating Budget, and the remaining $199,261 to the Streets Reserve.

Council and Administration reports were received as information. 

 Motion Out of Camera

Kinsmen Arena/Aquatic Centre Renovations
Council directed Administration to revisit the scope of the Kinsmen Aquatic/Arena Renovation Project to determine cost implications.

*The next scheduled Regular Council Meeting is on November 23, 2015, at 5 p.m.
*The next scheduled Council Committee Meeting is on December 7, 2015, at 5 p.m.
*The next scheduled Regular Council Meeting is on December 14, 2015, at 5 p.m.


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