Council requests infill development policy

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

Council directed administration to bring back an infill development policy to a standing committee meeting by March 31, 2021.

This followed a discussion around a request from a developer to defer obligations for security and installation of the service connections of a newly subdivided lot along Gregg Avenue to its development permit stage.

Council directed administration to amend the development agreement (DA) between the Town and the developer to allow for the deferment, during the standing committee meeting on Aug. 18.

In his written inquiry, the developer stated the deferment would result in less up front costs and less construction costs.

“I would prefer to have a site plan along with a building plan in order to correctly size and place the site services on the property,” the inquiry read.

Deferring the items would allow the property to be developed and provide growth opportunities, it continued.

Peter Vana, director of development services, explained that the only legal mechanism the town has to ensure lands get serviced appropriately is the DA.

The only time the Town can enter into a DA is for a subdivision or for a development permit.

When lands aren’t serviced properly and buyers inquire about them and its cost, deals fall through, noted Vana.

It is the obligation of the developer to service those lots, otherwise they can sell and leave the Town chasing after someone else to service the area, he added.

Mayor Marcel Michaels questioned the difference in risk of requiring securities at the DA stage or including in the DA that securities are deferred to the development permit stage and that the development permit would not be issued without paid securities.

Vana stated that this is possible, but if the property sells they have to deal with a new developer.

“One of the realities is that most people coming in to build business on it are not developers per se, they expect to come in and develop on a serviced parcel,” Vana said.

Michaels stated he would support a one-off deferment for the developer of 467 Gregg Avenue with the intention of changing the policy to encourage development.

During a pre-application meeting, this developer expressed interest in developing the parcel with commercial and residential uses.

Public Works confirmed that there would be enough capacity in the existing lines to support this type of development, however it was reiterated to the developer that it is the developer’s responsibility to assume costs to tie into municipal services.

Subdivision Approval was issued on Feb. 6, 2020 conditional to the developer entering into a DA for the installation of municipal infrastructure.

Under the municipal government act (MGA), a municipality has the ability to ask for security as part of the DA to ensure the infrastructure is constructed and meets the Town’s minimum engineering standards. 

The DA is registered on the title of the new lot to advise all parties that may have an interest in the lot of the development requirements. 

Within the DA, there is the requirement to install or pay for the installation of public utilities for the proposed development. 

Security is required in the form of a letter of credit or cash to be posted prior to execution of the DA and before endorsement of subdivision to get the parcel registered at Land Titles. 

Security is based on 100 per cent of the estimated construction costs provided by the developer’s consultant.

An infill development policy will come back to council in early 2021 to further address the issue.