by Calli Stromner
During the final meeting before summer break, Council ploughed through a massive agenda that included three public hearings, passage of two land-use related bylaws, the new off-site levy bylaw, Community Grant Applications, and updates on the Town website and Community Cultural Centre entertainment series.
Council received a status update and another look at the new Town website, which CAO Deb Oyarzun touted as much more user friendly and clean.
“It’s taken a lot of pain and time to get (the website) to this point,” said Oyarzun, adding that the back end of the web portal is based on Microsoft Office and Joomla which makes it easier for staff to uploading document and information. Highlights of the new site are the master document library which contains all bylaws, agendas and other routine municipal documents in one searchable place. As well, an event calendar and alert board has been placed on the home page and the site has been optimized for mobile devices.
“The current site really, really sucks,” said Mayor Lisa Holmes. “This (new site) is a huge improvement.”
The site will go live this summer, after the Town’s new Communications Coordinator, Felicity Bergman, takes over the project in July.
Community Grant Dollars Awarded
Council approved two grant requests worth just over $2,300 as part of the tri-annual intake for the 2014 Community Grant Program. The Morinville Community High School Senior Boys’ Volleyball Team will receive $1,620 to assist with registration fees and 10 per cent of the overall travel costs to attend a volleyball tournament in Hawaii this October.
While the total amount of the trip for 11 team members is more than $18,700, the team has been busy lowering that cost through various fundraising initiatives over the past few months, according to team coach Aaron Fidler. The grant application indicated that the team has raised over $6,000 through bottle drives and grocery bagging shifts at Sobeys.
In a vote of 4-2, Council also approved a grant to help send a local athlete to France for the Canoe Polo World Championships this September. Kassandra Reaume is a member of the Canadian U21 Women’s Canoe Polo Team. Council supported an amount of $699 to pay for Reaume’s registration fee and 10 per cent of her travel costs, although several Councillors took issue with the inequity of providing a lower amount per person to the volleyball team. Councillors Nicole Boutestein and Rob Ladouceur voted against the motion.
Community groups still have access to over $14,000 in Community Grant dollars for the 2014 allocation year. The deadline for the next application intake is September 30.
New off-site levies approved
Council unanimously approved extensive revisions to the Town’s offsite levy fee structure that changes the rates developers will pay to offset the costs of critical infrastructure needed to support new commercial and residential development land within the town of Morinville. The off-site levies will help pay for $69 million dollars’ worth of storm sewers, sanitary sewers, water lines and roadways, of which developers will pay a total of $25.2 million.
Total offsite levy charges for new development in Morinville will range between $87,000 and $221,675 per hectare. The transportation portion of the offsite levy bylaw will increase by 6 per cent to approximately $59,000 per hectare. The water rate is $21,734 per hectare which represents a 24 per cent reduction from 2009. Neither storm water nor sanitary sewer offsite levies were included in the 2009 bylaw and are now included in the proposed offsite levy bylaw. Developers building south of the railroad tracks will pay between $80,000 and $131,575 per hectare; developments north of the railroad tracks will only pay $6,676 per hectare. Similarly, new developments that are built north of the railroad tracks will not have to pay off-site levies for storm sewer infrastructure, but those planned on the south side will see a $9,122 per hectare charge.
“I like the fact that we’re updating it and that we’re going to be doing it annually,” said Councillor Gord Putnam, adding that the continual review process will protect the Town’s interests.