Red Arrow
Tuesday May 8th, 2012  
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At the regular council meeting on Tuesday, May 1st, council voted unanimously to suspend off-site levies on a trial basis until January 31, 2013.
The Municipal Government Act provides regulations relative to the collection of off-site levies to assist Municipalities in the recovery of capital costs as it relates to new or expanded facilities for water, sanitary, storm and road systems. Many communities, including the Crowsnest Pass, utilize off-site levies derived from land development to assist in funding of major infrastructure facilities. The fundamental philosophy of assigning off-site levies to developers is that development should ‘pay its way’ towards new and upgraded infrastructure facilities.
The Municipality completed engineering and financial studies of infrastructure required to support and maintain cost effective and orderly growth. The Municipality than allocates these costs to the lands that will benefit from the new or expanded infrastructure so that developers subdividing and developing land will pay an amount proportionate to the area being developed. This information was summarized in an Off-site Levy Evaluation report which was then utilized in the development of the Off-site Bylaw No. 786, 2009 which underwent revisions in 2010.
The bylaw also utilized population forecast from data from various sources including the Municipal Development Plan and other existing municipal documents.
This population data that was utilized was over-estimated and was not achieved. Our population has not matched the trend of the Provincial population growth rate over the past number of years.
Population growth in the Crowsnest Pass has fallen 12.7% since 1996 as compared to provincial growth of 24% over the same period.
The past decade has seen average housing starts of approximately 16 houses per year in the Crowsnest Pass.
Current off-site levy assessments assigned through the bylaw were on a per lot basis and range in the amount of $4,950 to $5,361 per lot.

When the off-site levy bylaw was being considered, development proposals were underway in various areas of the community but now has slowed substantially. Off-site levies are not being charged by either Sparwood or Pincher Creek.
Local developers and real estate industry experts met with the Policy Committee of council to discuss this issue. They noted that the current development market has been depressed for a number of years. They further feel that off-site levies are an impediment to growth and puts Crowsnest Pass at a disadvantage as we compete for development growth with our neighbouring communities.
Local developers have inferred that they have development opportunities awaiting the pending cancellation or suspension of the off-site levies.
The developers have determined that the off-site levies are producing minimal revenue and that the total funds existing in the Off-site Levy Reserve exists in the amount of $149,000.
Administration gave council two options to consider regarding the issue. Council could vote to suspend the off-site levies for a period of one year at which time a review would be undertaken or council could consider off-site levies on a case by case basis.
Councillor Gallant noted, “we are not growing as a community, so there is no need to charge a fee when people are already broke”. This has to be reviewed on a yearly basis with a decision based on market forces”.
Councillor Lonsbury felt, “it may open a can of worms if we look at off-site levies on a case by case basis.”
Mayor Decoux noted, “what if we had a huge development come, shouldn’t council have the right to charge a fee.”
Councillor Mitchell made the motion to suspend off-site levies pending review on January 31, 2013.“
Council voted unanimously in favour.
Shane Stewart, owner of ClansWest Development noted, “this is a postive first step that has put some much needed good economic news in the wind of our sails”.
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