by Tristan Turner
Storage building approved
A public hearing was held on a rezoning of an auxiliary storage building in between the old convent and the new Chauvet Apartments. The building will be required to be restored and brought up to code, and will serve as an auxiliary building, providing storage and security for the adjacent apartment buildings. The hearing received the comments and concerns of two residents, as well as the responses of owner Robert Chauvet.
Councilor Barry Turner clarified with Director of Planning and Development Greg Hofmann that this building cannot be used for “any other purpose” than to service the two adjacent apartment buildings. Any other use, including storage for offsite construction or other uses, is expressly restricted under the bylaw, and would be subject to control and punishment under bylaw enforcement if misused, according to Hofmann.
The concerns raised by Leah Breitkreutz-Hogg, a neighbour to the apartments, were related to parking stalls next to her residence, a home situated immediately next to the parking lot for the apartments.
Breitkreutz-Hogg was concerned about people parking mere feet from her bedroom window, as well as security concerns from having vehicles blocking line of sight to her window. At the meeting, Town Administration found that the stalls in question actually belonged to the Town, and that nobody should be parking in the stalls. Chauvet commented that he has installed a sign that will attempt to prevent anyone from parking there, asking for the Town to assist in mitigating Breitkreutz-Hogg’s concerns by installing a similar sign.
Administration commented that it could be achieved, and that adjustments to the placement of the fence may also be made, to allow more space from Breitkreutz-Hogg’s property.
Another brief concern was expressed during the public hearing about construction debris being left from development adjacent to the property, which Chauvet assured was being dealt with.
Following the public hearing, both Second and Third Reading of Land Use Bylaw 1/2016 was passed unanimously, allowing the restoration and use of the building.
A subsequent motion from Councillor Stephen Dafoe directing Administration to work with all concerned to address Breitkreutz-Hogg’s concerns passed unanimously.
Sturgeon Foundation-Westlock Foundation merger gets support from Council
Council has unanimously decided – excluding the absent Mayor Holmes and Councilor Fitzgerald – to support the merger of two community housing associations that focus on providing senior housing. The Sturgeon and Westlock Foundations will be merging into a new organization called Homeland Foundation, provided they get the support of all associated municipalities.
The reason for the merger, as explained by Councillor Gord Putnam, who sits on the Sturgeon Foundation board, is to extend a partnership that has been lasting for a few years where the Sturgeon Foundation has managed the Westlock Foundation’s finances as a result of difficult financial times. Since then, according to Putnam, the organization has undergone a “complete transformation”, and has become far more effective and efficient, saying that “taking that next step forward [and merging], just made sense.”
Under the merger, existing debt will remain the responsibility of the respective existing entities while future debt would be shared.
Following questions from Councillors Boutestein and Dafoe on potential costs to Morinville residents, Putnam assured residents that the merger won’t have a substantial impact on cost to ratepayers. This is partially due to new efficiencies and cost savings realized as a result of having a larger organization that can more aptly utilize economies of scale to achieve reduced operational costs.
Further, Putnam was excited that the new organization would have significantly more weight behind it as the province moves towards a review of affordable and seniors’ housing, earning the new organization a guaranteed seat at the table.
Council approves new manufactured home conceptual scheme
In a unanimous decision, Council has approved the conceptual scheme for a new manufactured home park North of 105 Avenue and West of 100 Street with a site size of 11 hectares. The first phase of the site, which will be the installation of approximately 68 units, is expected to be completed before winter, according to an associate from Prism Engineering – who is working on the project and was present at the Apr. 12 Council meeting.
Councillor Barry Turner question Administration on why this was brought forward as a ‘conceptual scheme’, rather than an Area Structural Plan, or similar mechanism. Director of Planning and Development with the Town, Greg Hofmann, responded saying that the new park already fit in with the existing Area Structure Plan, and that, as a result, there was no need to hold a public hearing about the development.
Councillor Gord Putnam was concerned that passing the legislation “When you have these types of situations, where you don’t go through a public hearing and people are unhappy after, the question that always comes up is ‘why didn’t I have chance to say something?’… So I just want to make sure that everyone understands that, on this side of the table, that could happen.”
Putnam went on to say that as long as the conceptual scheme is acceptable, he’s okay with moving ahead with it.
After a limited debate, Council unanimously passed the scheme excluding the absent Mayor Lisa Holmes and Councillor Brennan Fitzgerald.
Census proceeding well
New CAO Andrew Isbister gave his CAO report to Town Council on Town operations with only a few highlights.
Most notably is the currently in progress Town Census, which residents can complete themselves online until May 5th. Currently, the census has seen a 28 per cent online completion rate. Completing the census online saves money for the Town, and can be done 24 hours a day through the town website.
Council pushes return from summer recess back a week
Council unanimously approved Administration’s recommendation to take advantage of August’s five Tuesdays and move their first meeting after the summer break from Aug. 23 to Aug. 30.