By Cole Parkinson
With changes coming to the Municipal Government Act (MGA) over the last several weeks, amendments were needed for the Municipal District of Taber’s Land Use Bylaw.
During M.D. council’s regular meeting on August 14, they were given an update on what would need to be changed in accordance with the MGA.
“We have to do some administrative amendments to the Land Use Bylaw and this is in response to changes within the Municipal Government Act. So, we have to clarify the roles of approval authorities, that being subdivision authority and development authority. Establish requirements and processes for complete applications, both the subdivision and development side. Update the list for notifying a decision on a development permit and also commencement of development. Update appeal timelines which changed from 14 days to 21 days and it includes specific requirements for development purposes,” said Bonnie Brunner, senior planner at Oldman River Regional Services Commission.
Council had worries about the extended appeal timeline from 14 days to 21 days as it would potentially push construction dates back even further.
While the appeal date would be set for 21 days, Brunner highlighted the bylaw would allow work to commence before the end of the 21 days.
“There is a section in our Land Use Bylaw that says if the person chooses to proceed in advance of that 21 days, it’s entirely at their risk. We do have very few appeals in the M.D,” she explained.
Council had questions about work starting before the appeal process was over and if that would, in turn, create any liability issues for the M.D.
“My only question would be, if you’re not having people sign that document saying if they start building or constructing before that, is there legal ramifications to the municipality?” asked Coun. John Turcato.
Brunner though made it clear that liability would fall solely on the person doing the work.
“The permit clearly specifies when the appeal period is,” added Brunner.
Another reason for the extended appeal timeline was due to the fact many people were unaware of how the appeal process worked.
“One of the big issues is folks weren’t clear about what the appeal period was. It created confusion on when a person had the ability to appeal and the timeline so the changes in the act were intending to clarify that,” continued Brunner.
While the added seven days would be beneficial for anyone looking at appealing, it would also come at a cost for those wanting to start construction if they wanted to wait out the entire appeal process.
While council noted the benefits it would bring, they also saw plenty of negatives stemming from the change.
“There are pros and cons to it. It is good they have the ability but for the person wanting to do the development, it slows down the whole process by a month,” said Reeve Brian Brewin.
Brunner doesn’t foresee much trouble with the longer deadline.
“Keeping in mind, the difference between permitted and discretionary. A lot of the uses for houses are on the permitted side. There is very limited ability for somebody to appeal that so there is not a lot of risks if somebody was to proceed in the appeal process,” she said. “On the subdivision side, the only person who could appeal is the person who made the application or applicable government agencies.”
In terms of when the 21-day timeline starts, subdivision work and development work starts at different times.
For subdivision, the 21 days begins when the direct mail out is sent out and the final date is listed directly on the letter.
For development though, the 21 days begins when it is posted in The Taber Times, which comes out on Wednesdays, and they will also be posted on the M.D. website and their social media accounts.
“Some of the things we have to do with this amendment is, clarify the date the decision is and when the appeal period starts,” added Brunner.
With these amendments stemming from the changes to the MGA, council wondered if they should only pass second reading if there were further changes expected.
Brunner though stated she didn’t anticipate any further changes coming down in the near future.
A motion was made to adopt second and third reading of the bylaw with amendments and was passed unanimously by council.
Coun. Leavitt Howg was absent from the meeting.