Pass Herald Staff
Jan 24, 2024
The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass has provided an opportunity for people to secure compliance approvals for existing accessory buildings that were constructed or placed without prior approval.
From January to June of 2024 residents can make an appointment with the De-velopment Officer at the Municipality to determine if there are any accessory build-ings that need to be registered.
Why did the municipality decided to do this program?
According to the staff in the Development Office, “we deal with 80-120 com-pliance certificates per year”. A compliance certificate is what a lender and buyer wants from the seller when a homeowner sells their property. In essence a buyer wants to know if the property meets municipal standards.
For example, building dimensions and setbacks to the property boundaries are shown on a Real Property Report. A buyer will ask if the structures are compliant with the municipal land use by-law standards and if development permits were issued. Often a purchase is delayed because there are one or more structures on the property that do not comply, and the homeowner must then go back to the munici-pality to get the structure(s) approved.
During a review of the compliance of the property, for a letter of compliance or a proposed development (accessory building, deck, house addition), issues may arise if the development department finds an existing building or use not in compliance. A development permit may need to be issued for the existing structure. The process for a development permit can take upwards of 6-8 weeks therefore holding up the sale.
If a homeowner is found to have built a structure that did require a development permit, then the penalty fees is five times the regular application fee. If a building permit or an electrical permit is required, penalties may also be incurred for those permits.
For example, a development permit fee for a shed is $100. If there is a variance needed the cost may be as much as $275. If a structure was placed or constructed illegally, the fine is five times the development permit fee, so it could be between
According to the Development Office staff, “the penalties were increased be- cause there was so much non-compliance and construction without the benefit of a development permit and/or building permit that Council raised the penalty as a deterrent”.
This six-month grace period program now gives homeowners an opportunity to come in and not pay an application fee or be penalized. According to the Develop- ment Office staff, “there is no development permit fee nor penalty for six months where you can come in to see if any structures are non-compliant and then get them into compliance”.
Those who wish to use the program can make an appointment with a Devel- opment Officer either online or through the municipal office. “The development department will review your property and existing permits on file to help guide you to the next steps,” said the staff. Residents can bring in their Real Property Report or sketch a plan of what is existing on the land.
The Development Office staff said, “people may think it’s just a shed, but there is a by-law in place, and you should double check with a Development Officer that you follow municipal standards. It will only help when you sell.”
The Development Office staff also noted, “this is not an enforcement issue but a voluntary program that can help you when and if you want to sell or expand your existing property”.
Some of the questions already asked by homeowners who have used this pro- gram are, “Is my bear bin compliant? Is my flagpole? Is my fence or light stand- ard compliant? Is my little shed from the local hardware stores compliant or my greenhouse?” The Development Office staff noted that this is not always a simple answer, and more information may be required. That is why an appointment with the development Officer is preferred if at all possible, to get further information. “Each case must be assessed on own circumstances and merit.”
The Development Office staff remind residents that this program is not for de- velopment permits on future buildings and is only for existing accessory structures (including decks) built prior January 1, 2024.
The program runs from January 1 to June 30, 2024. Please refer to the “Shed Grace Period” on page five for more information.