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Increase in fees long overdue for work camps: Mayor Scott

Last Updated May 15, 2019 at 10:29 am MDT

PHOTO. RMWB Council from May 2019. MYMCMURRAY/Phil Wood.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated the new schedule presented in the proposed fees for licensing would increase 600 per cent. The correct number is 6600 per cent.

Although deferred, Mayor Don Scott believes the fees and rates bylaw got the attention of oilsands companies.

Council voted to delay the new fees bylaw allowing the administration to get more feedback from small and large businesses.

There would be increases in fees for transit, recreation and culture user fees, and planning and development.

Also, the bylaw would significantly increase fees for project accommodations.

This worries oilsands companies like Civeo Corporation and organizations like the Oil Sands Community Alliance (OSCA).

OSCA representative Karim Zariffa argued against the almost 6600 per cent hike for licensing work camps.

Existing work camps under the bylaw would “double dip”, paying alarmingly high rates.

“I’m pleased it’s been delayed, and I’m looking forward to working with Administration on understanding what’s the driving force, and consulting with us.”

The next move

Similarly, Bob Greaves, Land Management director of Civeo, echoed the feelings of many delegates on the matter.

The bylaw is unclear about payment structure and cost recovery.

Potentially, says Greaves, the bylaw could cost companies millions of dollars.

All agree to a fee increase in principle, however, they would like clarification.

Nevertheless, Mayor Don Scott remains adamant saying the proposed changes are overdue.

“We can’t have a situation where everybody is living in camp and then we’re wondering why everything is going as it is in this community with house prices collapsing and businesses struggling. We need to get more people living in this community, and it’s all part of that process.”

Mayor Scott admits the bylaw took many small and large businesses, even sports leagues by surprise.

Chamber of Commerce President Bryce Kumka points out the bylaw significantly increases large water usage fees

This would directly impact services like car washes and laundromats, for example.

The administration will re-examine the bylaw, consult businesses, and present their findings at a later date.

“Right now, the fees are a big joke.” Said Mayor Don Scott. “No wonder there’s over 30,000 people living in camps, when you have fees that really incentivize that situation.”