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Council to debate raising user fees

Last Updated Oct 21, 2019 at 7:48 pm MDT

The Oct. 22 council meeting features a public hearing on the proposed user fees bylaw. The Civeo Corporation is expected to speak at the hearing, arguing the bylaw would "significantly increase" fees for the project accommodations. Supplied by Civeo Corporation.

RMWB Council meets on Oct. 22, 2019, for the public hearing on the proposed user fees and amending bylaws.

This would involve a third and final reading of the motion to approve the bylaws.

For goods, services, activities, and access to facilities in the RMWB, the Municipality requires fees and charges.

The bylaws would change several of these rates for 2020, with most seeing an increase.

According to the Municipality, fees on average are 25 per cent lower than other jurisdictions in Alberta.

They also estimate the increase would mean $3.1-million more for the proposed 2020 Operating Budget.

Notably, animal control, transit service, solid waste and water and wastewater rates, and project accommodations would see fee increases.

First, the animal control fee for tag replacements increases from five to 10 dollars and impounding jumps from $10 to $25.

Also, cash fare for public transit in urban areas and specialized transportation increases by 20 per cent.

One-way fare would go up from $1.25 to $1.50.

Furthermore, landfill rates and sewage rates climb by eight per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.

Project Accommodation

Some of the significant developments of the proposed bylaw are the rates for work camps and building permits.

The daily rate for temporary project accommodation increases from $0.95 per occupied bed to $1.10.

Work camps, which operate for fewer than 365 days, qualify as temporary.

Meanwhile, the work camp permit rate jumps from $250 and $1.25 per occupied bed to $2,000 and $1.50 per bed.

The rise in percentage varies depending on the size of the facility and its number of occupied beds.

However, there remain some debate and confusion about the fees.

Bonnie Anderson, Land Development and Municipal Planning Counsel for Bennett Jones, said calculations in the bylaw are unclear.

She questions for which time intervals, such as annually or monthly operators should pay for renewals.

“In addition, if the proposed license fee is to be applied with each development permit application, which could be every two years if proposed [user fees bylaw] is adopted, then the new Fees Bylaw could result in a significant increase in fees for those that operate project accommodations.”

Civeo Business Development Director, Bob Greaves shall make a presentation at the meeting.

In a statement, Civeo Canada President Al Schoening questioned why there would be “repeat” fees for existing beds.

“It makes sense to charge fees for new beds at a new facility or additional beds at an existing facility – in either case, beds that did not exist before. That same fee ought not be charged for existing beds. To do so is, respectfully, punitive and more akin to a tax.”

Karim Zariffa of the Oil Sands Community Alliance will also present to Council.

If passed, most changes for user fees and rates come into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.

Fees for programs starting next Fall or Winter would come into effect on July 1.

Pet Ownership

Mayor and Council will hear a first reading of the Responsible Pet Ownership Bylaw.

The Municipality said the new bylaw would replace the Animal Control bylaw.

796 online surveys and seven face-to-face public consultations contributed to the bylaw.

Changes include a renewable pet license of one year, as well as to fines and rates including listed previously.

Also, the bylaw includes a definition for Nuisance Animals, based on a three-strike principle.

The bylaw empowers the Community Standards Appeals Committee to review any appeals.

Conversion Therapy

The final motion presented to Oct. 22 council is the ban on conversion therapy in the region.

Mayor Don Scott introduced the motion on Oct. 8.

MacEwan University professor, Dr Kristopher Wells shall present his findings.

Other notes

Council will also hear an Action Report from the Integrity Commissioner and updates on the Strategic Plan and 2019 Third Quarter Fiscal Budget and appoint the committee for the Arctic Winter Games Host Society.