By Cal Braid
Westwind Weekly News
At the August 23 Raymond council meeting, a bylaw amendment returned to the table for a second reading.
Development officer Mark Boltezar explained the process of bylaw changes. “We host a public hearing between the first and second reading of a land use bylaw amendment, and it’s to gain any sort of public input that (we’ve received) from the advertising we’ve done.” The information was advertised in Westwind Weekly and on the town’s website, and the administration didn’t receive any feedback or comments.
He went on to reiterate the bylaw amendments (No. 1109-21), which are:
Anyone who has a lot that is wider than 60 feet will be allowed to install a driveway that is 30 feet wide. That is an increase from the previous bylaw limitation of 24 feet.
Changes to barrier free parking stalls in the parking lots of small businesses will go into effect. The change comes in the wording of the bylaw, which previously stated that a business “shall consider” one barrier free stall in a lot of two to ten parking spaces. It will now to be a requirement and is variable depending on the size of the parking lot. This change applies to all new construction, not existing structures.
The development officer will be given the discretionary capacity to grant an increase in variance not to exceed 20 per cent. The officer will now have power to approve a development permit with or without conditions if the variance would not interfere with the amenities of the neighborhood or affect the use or enjoyment of the neighbours and neighbouring parcels of land. The officer’s capacity to increase is up from 10 per cent.
Council made a motion to close the public hearing on the matter and passed the second and third readings of the amendment.
Later in the meeting, CAO Kurtis Pratt introduced a general of overview of a federal grant called the Natural Infrastructure Fund (NIF). The grant application states that “the NIF will provide funding up to certain maximum limits based on the total eligible expenditures, as well as type of recipient. 100 per cent for territories and Indigenous recipients (and) 80 per cent for municipal, local, or regional governments, public-sector bodies, and non-profits.”
The federal grant is meant to “support communities to implement a range of diverse natural and hybrid infrastructure projects.” Each project is assessed on the requirement that they deliver one or multiple of the following community services:
Climate change resilience (e.g., erosion prevention, flood protection, regulating temperature extremes).
Increased access to nature. Enhancing the quality or quantity of healthy and safe natural systems to connect people to nature (e.g., increased public greenspace, active transportation, and design elements such as signage).
Improved environmental quality. Enhancing the efficiency, productivity, and functionality of ecological processes to provide people with healthy environments (e.g., water, air, and soil quality).
Stormwater diversion, infiltration or detention, ground water infiltration and replenishment, pre-filtration of water, and wastewater treatment.
Natural infrastructure ecosystem features and materials, such as sand, stone, and vegetation, to deliver conventional infrastructure outcomes. “For clarity, natural infrastructure can be naturally occurring or engineered using exclusively ecosystem features and materials.”
Enhanced biodiversity and habitat. Reducing fragmentation, loss, or destruction of important habitats and species (e.g., ecological integrity or connectivity, or reduction of alien invasive species and an increase in native species).
Climate change mitigation. Increasing the capacity of natural systems and processes to sink and store greenhouse gasses (e.g., carbon sequestration or broader greenhouse gas reductions through energy efficiency benefits).
Pratt said, “I don’t want to waste the time writing the application if there’s no appetite from council to expend the funds should we get it. I wanted to bring this to your attention first, to see if there was any interest in pursuing this is or not.” Council expressed interest in the idea but did not immediately have an idea for an applicable project. The discussion went on for a few minutes largely because of the cost sharing ratio that the federal government is willing to commit to. A short debate ensued, with one point of view being that any extra projects would incur town costs; the rebuttal being that an 80 per cent government chip-in is a huge offset to costs for any improvement program.
As the discussion tilted in favour of the idea, Mayor Depew said, “I agree with you. I really think that we should be applying for some of this.”
Council decided to table it to an upcoming committee meeting.