Off-site Levy Bylaws - Coming to Council Soon
The County released proposed revisions to its off-site levy bylaws – transportation, water/waste water, and storm water – and public consultations on the proposed changes were to have ended October 3rd. The County then extended the consultation period until October 12th because of its inability to release corrected financial information for the proposed water/waste water off-site levy on a timely basis. The deadline for comments was extended until November 14th because of further delays. As well as finally releasing the corrected financial information on November 6th, the County is now proposing to provide concessions to the aggregate industry for its transportation off-site levy obligations.
The draft bylaws had been tentatively scheduled for Council's December 11th meeting. They have been deferred, with no specific replacement date announced. Rocky View Forward has recommended that the County reconsider its earlier decision to not hold a public hearing(s) for the bylaws since they risk failing to meet statutory obligations to consult in good faith with all stakeholders before approving new off-site levies.
Rocky View Forward participated in the consultations and prepared two submissions. Our October 3rd submission can be found here. Our second submission can be found here. Our earlier assessment that includes detailed descriptions of the proposed off-site levies can be found
The quick summary of our position on the proposed off-site levies is that:
There are serious doubts whether they meet the legal requirement to be “clear and reasonable” because of what we see as flaws in the underlying assumptions used to determine the levies. To highlight a few:
The levies assume that all approved ASPs and conceptual schemes will be fully built out – a planning time horizon of 75 – 100+ years. The ability to forecast accurately over such a long time has to be questionable.
This assumption is inconsistent with information from the County’s planning staff (e.g. 2016 residential land inventory report).
The levies must provide a correlation between the levies paid and the benefits received by those paying the levies. With the levies incorporating costs for infrastructure that may not be built for 75 – 100+ years, it is difficult to identify a meaningful relationship between the levies paid now and infrastructure that will be built so far into the future.
The province requires municipalities to consult in good faith with all stakeholders on their off-site levies. It is not clear that the County’s cursory consultations meet these statutory obligations.
The proposed bylaws will give Council complete discretion to reduce or waive levies. This should be unacceptable. There should be a level playing field with levy rates the same for everyone. Having friends on Council and/or a good sob story should not result in lower levy charges.
The proposed bylaws and supporting studies can be found on the County’s website under Building & Planning/Plans Under Review/Bylaws Under Review: