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News Review
City Council Highlights
Posted Date: 5/23/2018 1:30 AM

Bylaw Amendments Related to Cannabis Legalization

Three of four cannabis-related Bylaw amendments presented to City Council Tuesday will return to the June 18 meeting for discussion on third reading.

Council passed Bylaw C-1278B, an amendment to the Smoke Free Public Places Bylaw (formerly the Smoke Free Playground and Recreation Facilities Bylaw). It sets out a 30-metre distance from commercial movie theatres, recreational facilities, public parks, outdoor special events and locations where children or playing that cannabis cannot be consumed.

It establishes a cannabis-free zone downtown.

Councillors did not reach consensus to have third reading on Bylaw C-1260-94, an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw (zoning and location of retail outlets and production facilities), Bylaw C-1064H, an amendment to the Business License Bylaw (fees, the number of licenses to be permitted, reporting schedules, hours of operation), and Bylaw C-1293A, an amendment to the Minimum Property Standards Bylaw (the number of plants permitted at residences, youth access).

The Federal Government has announced legislation to legalize recreational cannabis, effective this summer, pending parliamentary approval.

The Province has established its own act and regulations (An Act to Control and Regulate Cannabis) to respond to the federal cannabis framework. As a result of the Federal and Provincial cannabis acts, municipalities have been delegated a degree of responsibility in regard to cannabis.

Municipalities have the authority to:
• Set greater separation distances than set out by the provincial regulations, or add additional buffer zones to best suit their communities’ needs;
• Specify any separation distances between cannabis retail stores;
• Regulate store hours; and
• Regulate public consumption of cannabis within restrictions set by other orders of government.

The City’s Cannabis Form and Fold Team, a cross department working group, has drafted bylaws for Council’s consideration for areas in which the municipality will have an immediate responsibility. These areas include land use, business licensing, public consumption and personal cultivation.

These amendments were developed to align with or exceed the proposed federal and provincial regulations. They balance opportunities for cannabis-related businesses and cannabis use with concerns for immediate and long-term social impacts.

Town of Wembley Joins Aquatera

Council authorize Mayor Bill Given to sign and execute the agreements and documents necessary to enable the Town of Wembley to become a shareholder in Aquatera Utilities Inc.

On January 29, Council authorized the Mayor to vote the City's shares in favour of Aquatera’s proposed actions to enable parties other than the original shareholders – the City of Grande Prairie, the County of Grande Prairie and the Town of Sexsmith – to become Aquatera shareholders.

This included revising the Unanimous Shareholders Agreement (USA), Bylaw No. 1 and the Articles of Incorporation. Council also endorsed Aquatera advancing interim financing to the Town of Wembley to enable construction and commissioning of a water transmission line to the community.

Revisions to the USA, Bylaw and Articles were supported and approved by all Aquatera shareholders, as was the proposal to advance interim financing to Wembley.

The Town of Wembley has now formally requested becoming an Aquatera Shareholder as part of the provision of water to the Town from the utility company's system. 

Two specific actions involving the City are now required to enable the Town to become an Aquatera shareholder. An all-party Letter of Intent (LOI) must be executed by the current partners to the Aquatera USA and the Town of Wembley.

The City and Wembley must enter into a Revenue Sharing Agreement (RSA) similar to that which exists between the City and the Town of Sexsmith.

A proposed RSA that has been endorsed by Wembley Council and vetted by City legal counsel. Wembley Council will be asked to formally approve this RSA on May 28.

It is also expressly acknowledged by both parties that the RSA could be changed, amended or discontinued if both parties agree that there is reason to do so in the future (e.g. if more appropriate arrangements become embodied within the pending Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework agreement).

2019 Alberta Summer Games

Council voted to support the city hosting the 2019 Alberta 55 Plus Summer Games, subject to the formation of a local organizing committee.

There is no Host Committee established to move forward with a bid for this event. The Grande Prairie Sport Council - Bid committee, has stated its support, and will assist the Alberta 55 plus Games Society in recruiting a chairperson and volunteers, should they wish to move forward with a bid.

With Council’s expression of support to host the games, Management will be able to proceed to work with the Bid Committee upon its formation in the effort to secure the 2019 Alberta 55 plus games to Grande Prairie.

The games could have an estimated $300,000 impact on the economy. The event would attract about 1,000 participants and spectators.

Visitor Information Centre Contract Renewal

Council approved renewal of the Visitor Information Centre contract with the Grande Prairie Regional Tourism Association (GPRTA) as amended.

GPRTA proposed reducing the operating hours by 30 minutes during their peak season between Victoria Day Long Weekend and Labour Day. The contract also eliminates the half day opening on Dec. 24.

The GPRTA provides the necessary staffing to maintain and operate the tourism services component of the Visitor Information Centre (VIC) at Centre 2000. It ensures staff is properly trained to market local and regional tourism businesses, as well as disseminate local and regional tourism and visitor information.

The GPRTA produces the annual visitor information guide to showcase the region and market regional tourism businesses, events and attractions. This arrangement has been in effect since January 1, 2002. The current contract expired December 2017.

Management met with GPRTA prior to the contract’s expiry and agreed that the agreement would go monthly until Travel Alberta funding was received and this has now occurred. 

Under the current contract, the VIC operates year-round except for six statutory holidays and a half day on Dec. 24. Between Labour Day Weekend and Victoria Day Long Weekend, the VIC is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekends.

During peak season from Victoria Day Long Weekend to Labour Day, the VIC is currently open 8:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., seven days a week.

The Heritage Discovery Centre (HDC) is also located in Centre 2000. Its operating hours during the peak season are currently 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on weekends.

The HDC is also closed for statutory holidays and Christmas Eve. The proposed contract for the VIC services offered by GPRTA would change the VIC’s closing time from 7:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. during the peak season. The facility would not be open on Dec. 24. The VIC sees few visitors between 6:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. as most visitors stop in early enough to plan their day in the region.

The reduced hours enable the GPRTA to increase customer service through additional off-site engagement opportunities. The GPRTA is required by Travel Alberta, as a condition of its funding, to complete 22 off-site engagements this year, providing information and services at high profile events or attractions. In previous years, Travel Alberta only required two off-site engagements.

The contract also removes the requirement for GPRTA to provide an annual marketing plan and financials. These documents are presented at the annual general meeting and are publicly available throughout the year.

In 2017, the VIC served approximately 26,000 visitors between Victoria Day Long Weekend and Labour Day.

Of these, approximately 47% were from other parts of Alberta, 26% from other Provinces and Territories, 24% from the USA and 3% from Europe.

2018 Weed Inspector Appointments

Council appointed Kassidy Dick, Nicolas Allard, Julia Friesen, Gwen Lewis, and Seanna Millham as Weed Inspectors under the Weed Control Act of Alberta. 

Council also designated the Community Living Committee as an Independent Appeals Panel.

Part 2 Section 7 (1) of the Weed Control Act of Alberta states that “A local authority shall appoint inspectors to enforce and monitor compliance with this Act within the municipality.” The Act defines local authority as “the Council of the Municipality.” The appointments are seasonal and will expire when the appointed staffs’ employment term expires with The City.

Part 4 Section 19 (1) of the Act states that “A local authority shall establish, at least annually, an independent appeal panel to determine appeals of inspector’s notices, local authority’s notices and debt recovery notices.”