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Coaldale increasing offsite levies

Posted on May 31, 2023 by Sunny South News

By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News

The Town of Coaldale will be increasing their Offsite Levies for the first time in over a decade.

A public hearing for an Offsite Levy Bylaw was held during Coaldale town council’s regular May 23 meeting.

Bylaw 866-P-03-23 – or the Offsite Levy Bylaw – would update the offsite levies associated with new development taking place within the town.

Offsite levies are fees paid by developers for the purpose of supporting long-term infrastructure projects that accommodate the town’s growth. The idea behind them is that new development would pay for at least some of the cost of growth, rather than placing that burden on the existing tax base, and the levies form a source of revenue for a growing community.

Section 648 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) allows for municipalities to charge offsite levies. These levies can be implemented for several infrastructure projects, such as new or expanded facilities for the storage, transmission, treatment or supplying of water; new or expanded facilities for the treatment, movement or disposal of sanitary sewage; and new or expanded storm sewer drainage facilities. In addition, recent MGA changes have expanded a municipality’s ability to impose a levy on projects such as new or expanded community recreation facilities; new or expanded fire hall facilities; new or expanded police station facilities; and new or expanded libraries.

“The current offsite levy bylaw we have in place is a little over 15 years old,” said Cam Mills, director of growth and investment for the Town. “Obviously, the town has changed dramatically over that time, as have things like cost of infrastructure.”

Mills said that project has been two years in the making, with ISL Engineering awarded the contract in July 2021 following a request for proposal process to spearhead the review. Internal staff work on the project was initially undertaken by Spencer Croil, the town’s former director of planning and community development, and since his departure the primary work has been undertaken by Jason Siemens, manager of development engineering for the town. Council participated in project oversight through the offsite levy bylaw review committee.

In 2009, Coaldale established a levy rate of $85,500 per gross hectare, and has not increased it since then. In comparison, the City of Lethbridge updated their rates three times since 2010, and recently passed a bylaw setting a rate of $290,000 for 2023, increasing to $318,000 by 2026. The Town of Coalhurst set a rate of $96,000/hectare in 2013 and increased those rates to $126,000/hectare in 2017. The Town of Taber set a rate of $74,761/hectare in 2015.

In 2009, when the levies were last updated, the Town of Coaldale had a population of 6,943. Since then, the town has undergone an annexation and has a population of 8,771, according to the 2021 census.

In addition to its growth, Coaldale is better equipped with resources – such as staff and long-range infrastructure plans – that allow for better forecasting of the town’s future infrastructure needs. For that reason, it was decided that a review of the offsite levy system was appropriate, which would hopefully lead to a regular and ongoing review process to adjust levy rates following the adoption of a new bylaw.

Following the review process, public feedback and first reading, the levy set in the proposed bylaw is $184,766/hectare.

As of the preparation of the report for the public hearing, no feedback was received.

Following the public hearing, council unanimously performed second reading of Offsite Levy Bylaw 866-P-03-23 as amended in the document attached labelled “proposed 2nd and 3rd reading”, and performed third reading of the Offsite Levy Bylaw 866-P-03-23 as amended in the document attached labelled “proposed 2nd and 3rd reading” with the Offsite Levy rate set at $184,766/hectare.

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