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County updates transportation levies

Rocky View County council approved changes to the transportation levy bylaw, July 20. The changes updated both the levy amounts and the timing at which developers pay, with the goal of making the process more clear and equitable.

Rocky View County council approved changes to the transportation levy bylaw, July 20.

The changes updated both the levy amounts and the timing at which developers pay, with the goal of making the process more clear and equitable.

According to Reeve Lois Habberfield, under the Municipal Government Act, local governments only have the authority to place levies on road, sewer and water infrastructure. Those levies, she says, are needed to help cover the costs of growth.

“ You have to have proper infrastructure to attract business, and someone has to pay for it,” said Habberfield. “Otherwise we have to rely fully on government grants and taxpayers.”

This year, the base levy rate, which applies across the county, stayed the same as it was in 2008. However, the basic philosophy of how it is applied to development was changed.

Previously, any development within a quarter section triggered the payment of the levy on the entire land base, even when only a small portion was being developed.

With the changes, the County will collect only on the land that is being developed.

Further developments within the quarter section will prompt additional levy charges.

This new phased approach makes it more feasible for developers, according to Byron Riemann, manager of Infrastructure and Operations for Rocky View County.

“What council wanted was to collect only on the developed land,” said Riemann. “In conversations with the developers, they wanted some sort of fairness.”

Council also made changes to special levy rates, which are additional charges placed on developments in four specific areas of Rocky View, which are identified as having infrastructure deficits.

In Special Area 1, located in the Balzac area, rates will increase from $16,192 to $18,638 per acre.

Developers in Special Area 3, which is located in the Chestermere area, will see levy rates decrease from $10,070 to $9,028 per acre. There will be no changes in Special Areas 2 and 4, located near Cochrane and Bragg Creek respectively.

Council also exempted developments of less than five acres in size within the special levy area from paying the additional fees. The base levy rate of $4,394, which is consistent across the county, will still apply.

“We want to encourage infilling,” said Habberfield. “One of our mandates is to reduce our footprint.”

According to Habberfield, the extra levy fees placed on small developments might make them unmarketable.

“We want to be reasonable,” said Habberfield. “Not to penalize people who are only doing what the ASP (Area Structure Plan) calls for.”

No levies are charged on either homesteads or first parcels out, added Habberfield.

According to Riemann, the levy rates are reviewed yearly through a sub-committee, which includes developers.

“That is the commitment from council to make sure the bylaw is consistent with the changing costs of building the infrastructure,” said Riemann.

“It is part and parcel in making sure development is paying their fair share in needed infrastructure.”

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