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News Review
City Council Highlights
Posted Date: 9/19/2017 2:00 AM

Amendment to Municipal Development Plan and Land Use Bylaw – Railway Rights-of-Way

Council approved Bylaw C-1237K, an amendment to the Municipal Development Plan, and Bylaw C-1260-77, an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw.

These changes address the absence of regulations for development adjacent to railway lines. Administration recommended designating Direct Control (DC) districts for new areas adjacent to railways, instead of conventional land use districts.

There are two railway corridors operated by the Canadian National Railway (CN) in Grande Prairie. The first runs south to Hinton where it connects to CN's main transcontinental line. The second takes rail traffic west to Hythe.

CN is federally regulated and therefore the City of Grande Prairie has no jurisdiction over the two rail corridors and the railway operations. While railways and rights-of-way are federally regulated, land use planning and development falls within provincial and municipal jurisdictions, leaving municipalities responsible for regulating development for lands located adjacent to railway rights-of-way.

Regulating development is needed to address safety considerations related to potential derailments and to protect future residents and businesses from potential impacts associated with noise, vibration and trespassing.

There are no policies in the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) or regulations in the Land Use bylaw (LUB) to guide development adjacent to the two railway corridors. In absence of such policies and regulations, development applications for sites adjacent to the railway lines have been evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

The lack of policies and standard regulations to guide development adjacent to the railway corridors was brought to light as a result of re-designating lands located in the S½ Sec.21 Twp.71 Rge.6 W6M from "Industrial" to a mix of "Residential" and "Commercial" land uses as part of an amendment to the MDP (Bylaw C-1237).

Recent events, such as the Lac-Mégantic derailment disaster, have raised public awareness of the movement of dangerous goods by rail and the impact on development located in close proximity to rail lines. Since their inception, railways have transported a variety of goods, and the type and amount of commodities transported by rail is continually changing across the country.

Standard Guidelines for residential development adjacent to rail corridors have been in place across Canada since the early 1980s, following the Grange Commission after the Mississauga derailment and evacuation in 1979. Locally, the Transportation Safety Board has records on 30 incidents in the City of Grande Prairie since 2004. Of these, 16 were derailments or collisions occurring within the rail yard. Five derailments occurred outside of yard limits since 2004.

Amendment to Municipal Development Plan and Land Use Bylaw – Public Engagement and Direct Control District

Council approved Bylaw C-1237L, an amendment to the Municipal Development Plan, and Bylaw C-126-78, an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw, with respect to Public Engagement and Direct Control districts.

Administration recommended approval of the proposed amendments to introduce the requirement for public engagement being undertaken in controversial applications and to improve the consistency of the Land Use Bylaw (LUB).

There are already requirements for public notification in the Municipal Government Act (MGA) and the LUB. Depending on the nature of the LUB amendment, the public notification requirements can include on site signage, advertising the proposed LUB amendment twice in the local newspaper and mailing of a notice to adjacent property owners.

However, these public notification requirements provide minimal information and take effect at a later stage of the application – at the public hearing stage. Unlike the public notification provisions required for all LUB amendments, the public engagement provision, currently only required for DC district amendments, ensures that property owners and residents are given the opportunity to learn more about any proposed DC district amendment.

In light of the similarities between DC district amendments and the other LUB amendments for redistricting, Administration proposes that the requirement for public engagement should be extended to include all potentially contentious LUB amendments.

From a planning perspective, expanding the applicability of the requirement for public engagement is timely as the City of Grande Prairie continues to grow. In an effort to be more sustainable, the municipality strives to direct some of the anticipated growth to existing neighbourhoods by encouraging infill projects.

To be more sensitive to existing land uses, Administration proposes to filter contentious proposals for LUB amendments through the proposed public engagement regulations.

Railside Business Park Outline Plan Outline Plan and Land Use Bylaw Amendment

A special Council meeting will be held before the end of this term for Council to address proposed Bylaw C-1369, the Railside Business Plan Outline Plan, and proposed Bylaw C-1260-80, an associated Land Use Bylaw amendment.

Unanimous approval to have third reading was not achieved on either proposed bylaw. The goal is to have the project proceed in a timely fashion.

The applicant requested Council adopt the Railside Business Park Outline Plan and subsequent Land Use Bylaw amendment applications to rezone the subject property from UR-Urban Reserve to IG-General Industrial.

The change in land use designation allows this privately owned, 34.76 hectare parcel to be developed for general industrial purposes.

The Railside Business Park Outline Plan and Land Use Bylaw amendment provides a policy framework for industrial development on the subject property.

The Outline Plan proposes 26 lots zoned IG - General Industrial, a possible rail spur right-of-way adjacent to the CN rail line, and 0.69 hectares of Municipal Reserve adjacent to the proposed storm water ponds.

The subject property is located in the S.E. ¼ of Section 21, Township 71, Range 6. The property abuts the CN Rail Line to the south, 116th Street to the east, the Centre West Business Park to the north, and recently annexed farm land to the west.

The property is approximately 34.76 hectares and has approximately 295 metres of frontage along 116 St. It is currently being used for agricultural production of canola. There are no buildings, roads, or storage facilities on site.

Adopting the Railside Business Park Outline Plan will allow additional industrial development to occur in the City. This may encourage future investors/business owners to locate industrial development within City limits, ultimately creating a more competitive industrial market in Grande Prairie.

Hillside Area Revitalization Plan

Council was unable to reach consensus on having third reading on Bylaw C-1370, the Hillside Area Revitalization Plan. A special council meeting will be scheduled before the end of this Council term to enable the process to be completed.

Several residents expressed concern over the potential increase in multi-family dwellings.

The Community Growth Committee had directed Administration to undertake an Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) for the Hillside neighbourhood.

Building upon the general framework outlined in the Municipal Development Plan (MDP), a 'Complete Community' concept, which to create neighbourhoods that include a mix of land uses, has been the underlying approach while developing this ARP.

The ARP is intended to:

• Create a vision for a complete and sustainable community;

• Respond to the concerns and priorities expressed by the stakeholders throughout the public engagement process;

• Guide future land uses;

• Guide the transition from downtown to the neighbourhood especially along 100 Ave.;

• Include directions regarding the future use of the City-owned parcel located to the south of the hospital;

• Provide detailed direction with respect to the design of future development within the Hillside neighbourhood;

• Provide recommendations for improvements to public spaces;

• Develop linked trail and sidewalk systems;

• Explore the latest programs and innovative initiatives that could be implemented in the neighbourhood; and,

• Provide recommendations on implementation.

The draft ARP was prepared by Planning staff though a collaborative planning process with area residents and members of a Steering Committee.

This process also included close consultation with all affected City departments to address any issues related to development and redevelopment in the Hillside neighbourhood.

The draft ARP represents the culmination of this collaborative effort. It is based on the 'Complete Community' concept which gives residents a sense of identity and reinforces places of unique character in which residents may find a variety of lifestyles, housing, shopping, and recreational choices at a smaller scale.

The 'Complete Community' concept is meant to satisfying a desire to belong to an identifiable community with a unique character within a larger city. In developing the ARP, consideration was given to the history of the neighbourhood and the development context.

The ARP aims to build on the neighbourhood's historical significance as a hub for community services such as hospitals, community centres, and schools by allowing for the possibility of establishing future community services in some of the envisioned neighbourhood's precincts.

The draft ARP provides a detailed set of policies and implementation schedules that guide, among other items, future development, future use of the City-owned parcel, and neighbourhood improvements.

Kensington Area Structure Plan, Outline Plan and Land Use Bylaw Amendment

Council approved Bylaw C-1343, the Kensington Area Structure Plan, Bylaw C-1344, Kensington Area Outline Plan, and Bylaw C1260-55, an associated Land Use Bylaw amendment.

The proposed Kensington neighbourhood will include a variety of housing types, including a manufactured home community, single and semi-detached dwellings and street-oriented townhouses.

The proposed Kensington Area Structure Plan and Kensington Outline Plan have the same plan boundaries. The plan areas are bounded to the north and west by the Canadian National Railway line, to the east by 116 Street and to the south by 76 Avenue.

The plan area applies to 122.7 ha of land legally described as Lots 4 and 5, Flyingshot Settlement, and Part of the S ½ of Sec.21, Twp. 71, Range. 6, W6M. The properties are currently being used primarily for agricultural production.

The abutting properties to the north and south are also currently being used for agricultural production. The future land use for the area to the north is Industrial and to the south is Residential. The neighbourhoods to the east across 116 St. include Richmond Industrial Park and the residential neighbourhoods of Westpointe and Pinnacle Ridge.

Aquatera Resolution Request

Council approved Aquatera Utilities Inc. acquiring 100 per cent of Advanced Trenchless Inc. through its subsidiary 25 by 20 holdings Inc. and will request similar approval from the Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Emergent AUMA Resolution – Provincial/Municipal Working Group on Opioid Response

Council endorsed a resolution calling for a Provincial/Municipal Working Group on Opioid Response. The resolution will be submitted to the AUMA Board for inclusion at the 2017 AUMA fall convention as an emergent issue.

Naming of the Revolution Place Plaza

Council voted to name the Revolution Place Plaza after Councillor Helen Rice, who is retiring from municipal politics with this Council term.

Councillor Rice has been on Council almost continuously since 1979, has served on the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association Board, including acting as its president, and as a board member on the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Beyond her commitment to local government, she has been the manager of the Downtown Association of Grande Prairie since 1999. A plaque and the naming of the H.A. Rice Plaza is considered an appropriate recognition of Councillor Rice's hard work and remarkable achievements, and honours her service to both Grande Prairie and Alberta.

An official announcement and celebration event at Bowes Family Gardens in conjunction with the launch of a book featuring Councillor Rice is planned.

Plaza Background

The recently renovated Plaza offers the opportunity to host outdoor events including weddings, trade shows, art installations, and holiday celebrations.

Many of these events will bring added revenue, complement current business strategies and attract new stakeholders for the venue. The space has the potential to be used year round to host stand-alone events or augment existing festivities being held inside the facility.

Afghan Memorial Sponsorship

Council approve $10,000 to the Army, Navy, Air Force Veterans (ANAVETS) for the unveiling of the Afghanistan War Monument, subject to the commissioning of the monument.

There has been no funding previously provided from the City for this project. The monument organizers have applied for a $48,000 grant from Veterans Affairs Canada. A funding decision is expected shortly.

In addition to the Veterans Affairs grant application and City sponsorship request, ANAVETS has sourced funding from other organizations. County of Grande Prairie ($5,000), Grande Prairie, Regional Tourism ($8,000), and the Canadian Legion of Riders ($5,000).

Fundraising activities, such as Poker Runs and Cruise Nights, have raised $3,500 in addition to numerous gift-in-kind donations. They continue to fundraise for this project, including applying for $15,000 in funding from the Poppy Fund.

The proposed monument will be located at the ANAVETS building at 10117 93 St. with building and construction currently planned this month. The unveiling ceremony is planned for October 7, with the sponsorship funding to support an event including a luncheon, dinner and ceremony.

The funding would include:
•26 Hotel Rooms at a cost of $135 each, totalling $3,510 – hotel rooms to accommodate guests from the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, military dignitaries and Silver Cross Families (four families connected to the City and County of Grande Prairie).
•160 person dinner, at a cost of $25 per person, totalling $4,000.
•60 person luncheon, at a cost of $15 per person, totalling $900.

Guests at the luncheon include members of the Loyal Edmonton Regiment.

Event costs total $8,410 of the $10,000 requested. The remainder of the requested amount would be used to fund foliage for the memorial garden surrounding the monument.

In exchange for sponsorship, the City would receive logo placement on signage at the memorial gardens, on the monument site.

2016-2017 Park Naming Nominations

Council approved the Park Naming nominations for the Louie Callihou Community Park and the Clifford Turner Neighbourhood Park.

Council voted to use of the remaining funds from the 100 Year Park Naming Capital funding as the source of funds for future park naming signage and installation.

Council approve the relocation of William Caldwell Park from Mission Heights (MH#6) to Arbour Hills (AH#4).

Parks Operations annually receives nominations for naming of parks and open space within Grande Prairie. Typically, nominations have been submitted by residents, family members, Neighbourhood Associations and organisations.

Nominations received for park naming must meet the criteria as identified in Policy 601 – Naming of Parks and Recreation Facilities.

That policy states:

City Council shall approve the names for parks and recreation facilities which meet at least one of the following criteria:

1. That have regularly booked facilities for public use.

2. That have high visibility to the general public.

3. That are regularly used for organised recreation or cultural programs.

4. That have special historical significance.

5. That has a long standing use of an unofficial name.

6. That recognizes contributions of a person or groups who have donated land or funds for the facility.

7. That satisfies the desires of a neighbourhood group.

Transit Master Plan

Council approved the Transit Master Plan.

Based on the service level and route network improvements, population growth and other factors over the term of five and 10 Year service plans, a ridership growth rate of approximately 6.7% per year is projected.

This rate is comprised of a general 5% growth per year in ridership in response to the service improvements and 1.7% per year due to population growth.

Ridership would increase from the 2015 level of 762,487 to 1,018,868 in Year 5 and to 1,409,094 in Year 10, an overall change of 85%.

The following are the key elements of the Transit Master Plan:
•New Vision, Mission Statement, Goals, Objectives and updated Service Standards.
•Re-structuring of the transit route network.
•Increase transit service levels progressively over the 10 year period of the Transit Master
•Plan from approximately 42,127 annual revenue vehicle hours in 2017 to 92,221 revenue vehicle hours in Year 10.
•The 10-Year Estimated Operating and Capital budgets. Total operating costs for transit would change from $4,518,361 in 2015 to $7,494,928 in Year 5, and $10,729,499 in Year 10.
•Ridership is projected to increase from 762,487 in 2015 to 1,018,868 in Year 5 and 1,409,094 in Year 10.
•Fare revenues would increase from $726,947 in 2015 to $1,344,906 in Year 5 and to $2,367,278 in Year 10 reflecting the effect of the projected increase in ridership in response to the service improvements and population growth and fare increases.
•The City's net annual operating investment in its transit system would change from $3,714,030 in 2015 to $6,072,639 in Year 5 and $8,284,837 in Year 10. The system ratio would improve from 18% to 23%.
•Adopt a fare strategy to progressively increase transit fares on a regular basis at the rate of $0.25 every two years with an initial increase of $0.25 in the adult cash and corresponding increases in the other fare categories in Years 1 and 2.
•The 20-ride ticket books, Pass Paks and separate Student School Pass would be discontinued and the Seniors Pass rate progressively increased to the level of the Student Pass rate over 4 years.
•The separate Child cash and tickets rates would be combined with the senior's rates.
•Acquire seven (7) transit buses between Years 1 and 10 to increase the size of the fleet for service expansion to new areas as well as to increase service frequencies on all routes.
•Renew the corporate image of the transit system by adopting a new logo and colour scheme to be applied to buses and stops consistent with the City's branding.
•Adopt new bus stop signage to provide enhanced visibility and customer information.
•Implementation of ITS programs and technology.
•Increase marketing and promotion of the system through development of a detailed Marketing and Communications Plan, a budget increase and dedicated staff resources.
•Increase the number of sheltered stops to 30% with the purchase of 98 shelters over 10 years to enhance the attractiveness of using transit.

Council Member Appointments Review

Council approve proposed changes to Council member appointments to the various Council and External Boards, Commissions and Committees for the next Council term.

On Aug. 17, Council held a workshop to review the current Council member appointments to the various Boards, Commissions and Committees, both internal and external, in preparation for the next Council term.

Discussion focused on topics such as:
•Improving public awareness of the Arts Development Committee and the Pursuit of Excellence Committee;
•Strengthening communication links between Council and the various Advisory Boards within the City;
•Changes to Council member appointments on various internal and external Boards, Commissions and Committees; and
•Developing Council Policy and Procedure to support Council initiatives.

Procedure Bylaw Amendment

City Administration underwent a reorganization in order to better reflect the manner in which the City delivers its services.

A key component of the reorganization is a reduction in the number of service areas from four to three. These changes resulted in the need for Bylaw C-962 – The Procedure Bylaw to be amended to reflect the new organizational structure.

At the Council workshop, discussion included options for changing the current make-up of Standing Committees and Council meetings to better align with the new organizational structure.

This new structure removes the need to hold separate meetings for the Community Growth and Community Safety services areas, thus reducing the number of regularly scheduled Committee meetings by approximately 20 per year (60 meetings held instead of 80).

The Community Growth/Safety Committee would maintain its status of "Subdivision Approving Authority" and "Development Permitting Authority".

As a result of the restructure, Bylaw C-962, the Procedure Bylaw, must be amended to reflect the change from four to three Standing Committees.

Council Remuneration Policies

Council approved Policy 100 – Council Event Attendance, Policy 101, Council Remuneration, and a job description for the Deputy Mayor.

The changes are in response to recommendations from the Council Remuneration Review Committee earlier this year.

Subdivision Time Extension Process Review

Council was unable to reach consensus on having third reading on an amendment to the Subdivision Authority Bylaw and the associated Planning and Development and Engineering Services Fees and Charges Bylaw.

These bylaws designed to clarify the process and revise fees will return in the next Council term.

The current practice for approving subdivision time extensions, allows for the first time extension to be approved by the Subdivision Authority and subsequent time extensions to be approved by Council.

Generally the third time extension is refused, as a significant amount of time has elapsed and the current process does not include a way to determine if there have been changes to planning documents, legislation or stakeholder comments.

There are no limitations on Council's power to grant time extensions, so Council may extend the time period as often as they see fit.

A substantial number of 2nd and 3rd time extensions are being applied for, most citing the downturn in the economy as the reason.

The City has no policy or procedure in place to evaluate time extension requests for approval or refusal. City Administration tracks subdivision approvals approaching the expiry date.

Analysis

The following was acknowledged regarding time extension approvals and other municipalities:

1. Most municipal Councils delegated the power to extend time extensions to a subdivision authority.

2. Evaluation criteria for extensions of subdivision approvals can aid in the decision making.

3. A subdivision under the MGA may be amended but would be subject to section (5) of the Subdivision and Development Regulation.

4. Only the applicant can request an amendment(s) to subdivision conditions.

As a result of the analysis it is recognized that a consistent and transparent approach in processing Time Extension Requests is needed. Establishing a framework and providing direction in evaluating requests through a policy will achieve that.

Transportation Master Plan RFP

Council awarded the Transportation Master Plan RFP to McElhanney Consulting Services Ltd. for $351,825, exclusive of GST, as the highest scored, qualified bidder meeting City specifications.

In January 2015 Council approved a budget of $400,000.00, for the Transportation Master Plan Update. This was included in the 2015-2018 Long Term Capital Plan and the source of the funding was identified as the Gas Tax Fund Grant.

Background

The Transportation Master Plan (TMP) is one of the key planning documents used by

Administration. It helps identify and prioritize upgrades to the City's transportation infrastructure and has significant influence on future land use and development.

It is required to support the City's Transportation System Bylaw and Transportation Off-site Levy Bylaw. A TMP is a working document and should be reviewed every five years to ensure that it is consistent with Council direction and includes up-to-date land-use, population and traffic changes.

The current TMP was issued in 2011 and therefore does not include any of the network or land-use changes that have been approved in recent years. Recent changes include the annexation of rural lands in 2016, the twinning of 92 St. and 68 Ave. corridors.

Administration advertised the Request For Proposal (RFP-21-552-17) in March. Three Consultants submitted proposals. However, none of the proposals passed the technical evaluation.

None of the envelopes containing the financial information were opened and all three proposals were rejected. Post evaluation feedback was made available and was given to the Consultants that requested it.

The scope of work, and the evaluation criteria, were then revised and a new Request For Proposal

(RFP-37-552-17) was advertised on June 30. Administration received six proposals before the RFP closed (July 27, 2017).