Council for the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass had a full agenda finalizing land use and municipal fee bylaws during the April 13 council meeting.
Gateway to Blairmore
After no concerns were raised during a public hearing, Bylaw 1062-2021 unanimously passed second and third readings. The bylaw changes a portion of land in the west of Blairmore, along Highway 3 near Tim Hortons, from a drive-in commercial designation to comprehensive mixed use.
The redesignation will allow for future development that will diversify the business and residential potential in the area. Restaurants, retail, hotels, and short-term rental properties could all be developed under the changes, as well as shared parking and pedestrian connections to adjoining sites.
Fees and property tax
The fees, rates and charges bylaw also passed second and third readings.
Bylaw 1064-202 had previously been discussed at length during the March 23 council meeting, particularly in council deciding not to charge for emergency water disconnects and reconnects.
Before passing the bylaw, council made an amendment removing a clause that said council would waive or lessen charges upon request.
The proposed 1.73 per cent increase to the municipality’s property tax, as laid out in Bylaw 1067-2021, was also approved.
Though understanding that no resident would be excited about a tax increase, Coun. Dean Ward said the increase could have been a lot worse.
“The public needs to see what we were up against. I’ve never seen a year like this in my time on council,” he said. “This was a challenge.”
Specifically, reduced funding through the provincial Municipal Sustainability Initiative and the federal Gas Tax Fund significantly affected the municipality’s revenue. Expenses likewise increased, with the carbon tax and the provincial government requiring municipalities to cover policing costs being two notable examples.
To explain why the property tax increase was necessary, the municipality will post information on its online social media and include it in residents’ tax notices.
“It needs to be in every place that we can get it because we’re taking heat on stupid social media for raising our taxes, and the public does not truly understand how much was being asked of us and how well we’ve mitigated with our administrative staff,” said Coun. Lisa Sygutek.
“I take exception to many of those comments because they don’t even show up to council meetings; they have no idea what we go through for budget — I certainly didn’t prior to council,” she continued. “For it to come back just above inflation and still be able to do the things that we’re doing, congratulations to council and administration — and shame on anybody who gives us heck for it because they have no clue what we actually went through to get there.
“We’ve done a great job, and I think we deserve a little bit of a pat on the back for what we did.”
First reading for a proposed bylaw that would turn a vacant church into a four-unit apartment building was unanimously carried.
For the last 20 years the building was owned by the Nippon Institute of Technology. Bylaw 1075-2021 will change the Blairmore property from a public P1 designation to multiple residential.
Potential plans for the apartment building include snow storage, a common outdoor area, a future two-car garage and seven off-street parking stalls. One unit would have its own private entrance, while the other three would have a shared entrance.
The next regular council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 27, at the MDM Community Centre in Bellevue. An online agenda package will be made available the day before the meeting and can be viewed at https://bit.ly/CNPagenda.
Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze