Press Release - Whitecourt Town Council Update September 29, 2017
Whitecourt Town Council has adopted Phase 1 of the Sportfield Master Plan. The Plan will help guide investments over the next 15 to 20 years to meet both current and future outdoor recreation needs of our community. Development of the Sportfield Master Plan included significant consultation with user groups, Council Committees, students, community partners, and the general public. The Town of Whitecourt thanks all of those who contributed time and provided feedback throughout the development of this Plan. The Sportfield Master Plan focuses on three main areas: Rotary Park, Graham Acres, and the new Community Learning Campus (near the new Ecole St. Joseph School). Phase 2 of the Sportfield Master Plan will provide detailed costing and will recommend an order for completion of the proposed projects. The plan can be viewed on our website at www.whitecourt.ca.
The Stark Sport Society is applying to the Community Facility Enhancement Program for a grant to complete a 3,000 square foot addition to the Scott Safety Centre, as well as roof and ceiling replacement. Whitecourt Town Council supports the project, and Whitecourt will be providing the Society support for its application. If the grant application is successful, the Stark Sport Society is requesting a $400,000 contribution from the Town of Whitecourt. The Town had previously committed to replacing the ceiling and roof in 2018 at a budgeted cost of $175,000, and the remaining $225,000 would then be recovered by the Town through either a loan or lease agreement with the Whitecourt Wolverines.
Council approved first reading of Bylaw 1529, a bylaw to authorize the lending of funds to the Community Lunchbox Society. The Society requested the loan so that it could pay down the purchase and renovation of the support centre located at 4904 52 Avenue.
Effective January 1, 2018, Whitecourt will be following new guidelines in regards to off-site levies. The new theory and methodology for collecting off-site levies was adopted after an extensive review, and numerous consultations with area developers, builders, and ratepayers. Off-Site Levies are growth related improvement charges a municipality may collect from developers under the Municipal Government Act (MGA) as a cost recovery tool to help fund “off-site” infrastructure projects. Closer to the implementation date, advertisements and information sheets will be published informing ratepayers of the process. Watch for details on www.whitecourt.ca in the coming weeks.
Amendments have been made to the Land Use Bylaw and Municipal Development Plan as a result of the downtown parking study that was conducted last year. The study was initiated to determine the long and short term needs of parking in the downtown area. The study determined that there is sufficient parking in the downtown to accommodate this change in policy and bylaw for up to 25 years before additional parking is warranted. One of the most significant changes includes the creation of a Downtown Parking Overlay District” for the downtown core area to specifically identify areas where the Town would provide parking as an overall benefit to the community. Council will be discussing the possibility of parking levy refunds at a meeting in the new year.
Sagitawah RV Park submitted an application for an exemption to its current operating period for 2017/2018 to allow for temporary accommodations for people working on local pipeline projects, as well as the major shutdown at the Whitecourt Biomass Plant. Council has deferred the item to the next Regular Meeting of Council for further information.
Whitecourt has submitted an expression of interest to participate in FortisAlberta’s Streetlight LED Conversion initiative. If approved by the Alberta Utilities Commission, Fortis will convert approximately 790 streetlights within our community. Converting the streetlights would bring consumption, maintenance and environmental benefits.
Council has set the FortisAlberta Franchise Fee rate for 2018 at 2.55% - a decrease from 2017. Every year Council has the opportunity to review the franchise fee charged for the delivery of electricity to town residents. The franchise fee is paid in exchange for giving Fortis the exclusive right to supply power distribution in Town. The average franchise fee rate for all municipalities is 7.87%.
Council has approved first reading of Bylaw 1531 which provides for the renewal of the ATCO Gas Franchise Agreement. Council has also set the ATCO Gas Franchise fee rate for 2018 at 20.59% - a decrease from 2017. Every year Council has the opportunity to review the franchise fee charged for the delivery of gas to town residents.
Due to the upcoming municipal election, Council has cancelled its Policies and Priorities Committee meeting scheduled for October 16.
The new Whitecourt Town Council will be sworn in at an Oaths of Office Ceremony on Saturday, October 21.