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County development permits down in 2022

Posted on February 9, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

During Lethbridge County council’s regular Feb. 2 meeting, Hilary Janzen, supervisor of planning and development for the County, presented the 2021 Planning and Development Annual Report.

Along with day-to-day activities, the county undertook projects such as completing the Lethbridge County Municipal Development Plan (Bylaw 22-001), which was approved in March 2022, and completing the Safety Codes Annual Internal Audit. Janzen said that the Lethbridge County-Town of Coaldale new Intermunicipal Development Plan is in the final stages and in the middle of the bylaw process. Janzen noted there had been some good committee discussions in regard to this IDP.

On the Development Authority side, in 2022, a total of 219 development permit applications were received, down from 271 in 2021. The construction value for 2022 was $61 million, significantly lower compared to 2021 at $132 million.

“There is some bigger projects in 2021 that may have inflated that price a bit. So, we’re kind of seeing a bit of after COVID, the kind of a ‘dis-relaxing’ of, there isn’t such a flurry of applications coming in,” said Janzen.

Throughout 2022, a total of 211 development permits were issued, two permits were refused and three were still in circulation as of the time of the report. Of the permits that were issued, 65 were residential, 60 accessory buildings/structures, 38 commercial/industrial, 27 agricultural, four signage, six home occupation, two public/institutional and nine miscellaneous structures.

Janzen said that in terms of commercial/industrial permits issued, it was pretty decent, and not a steep decline from the 2021 number of 45.

“We saw some changes in use, we saw some changes in additions, not a lot of new stuff going on, a couple of new buildings going up, but a lot of internal expansion of existing buildings which was great,” said Janzen.

The Development Authority had also issued 59 letters of compliance in 2022, down from 61 issued in 2021.

A total of 919 safety codes permits, for things such as building, electrical, plumbing, gas, and private sewage, were submitted to Park Enterprises for 2022. Comparatively, 1065 permits were submitted in 2021.

However, despite the decrease in permits being issued, revenue from the permits stayed pretty steady. The revenue received from the contract agreement with Park Enterprises in 2022 was $133,984.60, slightly down from the revenue received in 2021, $137,568.35. When asked if the rates had changed, Janzen said no, but what had likely changed was the type of project the permits were for.

“Their rates are based off of what we tell them their rates are, for the county. Their rates haven’t changed since the last contract,” said Janzen. “With a commercial project, they have a higher value in terms of building permit fees, then say, like a garage. That’s probably why there’s maybe a similarity, but a reduced number of permits.”

In 2022, the Subdivision Authority had made decisions on 29 subdivision applications, with all applications having been approved by County Council.

Additionally, there were five Subdivision and Development Appeal applications received in 2022, which included three development permit appeals, a subdivision appeal and a stop order appeal. The development permit appeals related to two setback waivers and an application for a dog park, all approved by the local Appeal Board. The subdivision appeal had its appeal upheld with the subdivision approved by the Land and Property Rights Tribunal, and the Stop Order was for an unsanctioned development in Shaughnessy, with it’s appeal denied.

In 2022, a rezoning bylaw from 2021 for Group country residential was approved by council, along with three re-designations to Group Country Residential and one to Rural Recreation were considered and approved. An additional Group Country Residential rezoning bylaw had received first reading.

Two Area structure Plans – Ramias and MacLaine Acres – were approved as well.

Three Road Closure Bylaws – LaFarge/Pavan Road Closure, Anker Road Closure and Schuld Road Closure – received first reading, and two resolutions – Schuld Road Closure and Cote-Dunsbergen – were approved by County council.

Janzen noted that while some road closures were due to severe encroachment issues that needed to be addressed, others were requested by landowners wanting to farm or work with the land without worrying about the County’s right-of-way that wasn’t developed.

For land sales and leases, the County completed the sale of four residential parcels in Monarch, and three industrial parcels in Turin.

Three of the parcels in Monarch and all of the parcels in Turin have yet to be constructed on as of the timing of the report. When asked if the County has put a condition on parcel sales that they would need to commence construction in a certain period of time, Janzen said it wasn’t typically done. What they had done for a parcel in Iron Springs, she said they didn’t do it in Turin as some of the land sales were some local landowners wanting to hold onto some land, and they didn’t do so in Monarch either.

On the intermunicipal relations side, in 2022, a total of 37 Intermunicipal Referrals were received and reviewed, down from 38 reviewed in 2021. Along with the Town of Coaldale, the county had drafted the new Town of Coaldale/Lethbridge County Intermunicipal Development Plan, discussed previously, and in November 2022, a review of the Lethbridge County and Coalhurst Intermunicipal Development Plan was completed with both municipality’s committee members.

Council unaninously accepted the report for information.

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