by Colin Smith
Townhouses in a new Grandin Heights neighbourhood will be allowed to have secondary suites if a bylaw introduced at the Town Council’s regular meeting Tuesday is passed.
The bylaw amends existing the land use bylaw to permit the suites within the Grandin Heights & Notre Dame Site Specific (DC-3-9) District, where both townhouses and single-detached homes are being built.
Secondary suites include basement, garage and garden suites. They were already permitted for the single-detached homes in the neighbourhood.
As part of Morinville’s Municipal Development Plan, secondary suites are to be encouraged where appropriate to “subtly” increase density.
Introducing the bylaw, Development Planner Tyler McNabb told Council that allowing the suites could help with affordability for entry-level housing.
Questions about a potential parking issue were raised by Councillors Scott Richardson and Nicole Boutestein. McNabb noted that that regular parking regulations will apply so that every secondary suite must be provided with its own space.
Moving first reading of the amendment, Councillor Lawrence Giffen said, “It’s important that we give people the flexibility and potential to own their own home.”
The motion for first reading was approved with Councillors Boutestein and Richardson opposed.
Deferred taxes and utilities
Payment and penalty delays will have little impact on Morinville’s tax and utility revenues for 2020, which will be on par with the previous year.
“We are expecting our year-end balance to be consistent with last year,” Corporate Services Director Shawna Jason told Council Tuesday.
The Town of Morinville generates about $10.3 million per year in net property taxation revenue and about $6.6M per year in combined utility revenue.
Responding to the COVID-19 emergency, in April Council passed a measure extending the tax payment deadline from June 30 to August 31, extending the tax penalty date from July 1 to September 1, and delaying utility bill penalties, disconnections and arrears transfers to tax rolls.
The overall pre-authorized number of accounts and payment totals from January to August 2020 remained stable with monthly cashflows ranging between $402,000 and $441,000.
At the tax payment deadline of August 31, 17 accounts requested deferrals and 260 accounts remained unpaid. That compares 2020 to 319 at last year’s June 30 tax payment deadline.
Utility payment totals from January to August have also remained stable with monthly cashflows ranging between $94,000 and $108,000. Four accounts have requested deferrals and the number of utility accounts in arrears remains consistent with the previous year.
Delaying penalties on tax bills from June 30 to August 31 has cost the Town about $60,000 thousand. The cost is about $12,000 for delaying utility bill penalties from March through August.
On September 1 the Town began imposing a 7.5% penalty for unpaid 2020 property taxes. A penalty of 9% will be applied on January 1, 2021, to property taxes unpaid by December 31.
Relationship building with Alexander First Nation
On Tuesday, Mayor Barry Turner gave notice that he would move the following motion at Council’s September 22 regular meeting:
“That Council direct Mayor Turner to extend an invitation to the Alexander Chief and Council to attend a joint event to begin the process of collaboratively building a relationship for the mutual benefit of both communities.”