By Miriam Ostermann, Associate Editor
Referred to as a housekeeping regulation by administration, the Land Use Bylaw (LUB) is receiving some modifications after Strathmore town council gave the amendments the thumbs up.
The changes to Bylaw 17-12 are expected to allow for a broader range of municipal development projects throughout Strathmore, and recognize current town practices.
Under the original Bylaw 14-11, government services were defined as development providing municipal, provincial or federal government services directly to the pubic, with the exception of protective and emergency services, detention and correctional services, minor or major impact utility services, or education services.
Currently, under the bylaw, government services were classified as permitted use, under the Central Business District (CB), Highway Commercial District (CHWY) and Public Service District (P1), and as a discretionary use under Neighbourhood Commercial District only (C1).
Therefore, the staff-driven amendment calls for the services to be included under all land use districts, while being listed as discretionary use in all nine residential land use districts, and being permitted in all eight other land use districts. By recognizing the government services as an outright use in commercial and industrial zones, the services would be permitted in such areas as the Central Business District, Highway Commercial District, Neighbourhood Commercial District, Downtown Overlay District and General Agricultural District, to name a few.
The amendment further sought to treat utilities as a permitted use in all districts, creating a new use of utilities and of utility buildings as a discretionary use in all land use districts, and removing some language from the original bylaw to provide consistency.
“Partially it’s an attempt to sort of add some flexibility to the way government services are described in the LUB, partially to sort of recognize our current practices where the town does have a number of government services being delivered out of industrial zone lands, and partially to rectify some confusing language regarding utilities,” explained Ryan Roycroft, assistant director of infrastructure and development services with the Town of Strathmore.
“The bylaw is good practice in that it matches what the town is doing already and to clarify some inconsistencies and inconsistent wording in the bylaw.”
The proposed changes did raise some red flags among several councillors who questioned the impact of the bylaw on future economic migration, the growth management board, and clarification on the impact on utilities. Council was assured the bylaw would not pose a challenge to their concerns.
“In relation to potential growth management board, and of course that’s what I’m most considering into the future and looking at the potential thoughts of our neighbours in terms of impact into the future, I guess that’s my big concern that it in no way impedes us in the future; and maybe what (Mr. Roycroft) is saying is it won’t matter,” said Councillor Denise Peterson. “As I read this I saw possibility and potentials. I guess that’s what I’m thinking about. I have no objection to it, I recognize that it’s largely editorial, but sometimes editorial changes can have long-lasting impacts.”
Councillor Jason Montgomery also questioned whether utility buildings would be considered permitted or discretionary. Administration provided clarification at the Nov. 1 regular council meeting, stating that some utility buildings would be discretionary in certain zones, while utilities would be permitted.
According to Roycroft, the regulation outlines the difference between utilities (a system of works) and utility buildings (structures used to deliver utility services). In regard to Councillor Peterson’s concerns, Roycroft added that the effect locally will be minimal while the municipality’s hands are already tied when dealing with various levels of government.
“Truth be told it probably won’t change practice a lot… and realistically, provincial or federal services can be delivered anywhere,” he said. “They have the option of ignoring the town bylaw; so realistically, in terms of actual boots-on-the-ground type practice, it doesn’t change a lot. It more so is intended to recognize current town practice and really make it clear especially to our engineering services that they can deliver services out of commercial and industrial zones.”
Furthermore, the amendment aims to allow town development projects in inaccessible districts currently, while giving greater flexibility to future civic projects.
Town council, with every member present, gave second and third reading unanimously to the bylaw amendments on Nov. 1.