High River, AB: Local stakeholders in the private development sector provided their feedback on the Town’s development review and approval processes at a recent workshop hosted by the Planning and Development Services department.
“Town Council and staff are committed to fostering a ‘people-first’ community that is investment-ready for development and will serve the public interest,” said Reiley McKerracher, director of engineering, planning and operations for the Town. “There are great opportunities to collaborate and ensure satisfaction on both sides of the issue in the future.”
The October 15 half-day workshop had 44 attendees including developers, builders, real estate agents, and consultants, as well as Councillors, Town staff, and members of the Planning and Renewal Advisory Committee (PRAC).
“The workshop was held in order to open the lines of communication and begin actively working with developers to improve the processes that we currently have in place,” said Khalid Mohammed, manager of planning and development services with the Town.
The event began with presentations by Town Planning and Engineering staff, as well as by a planner from Alberta Municipal Affairs, to provide background information on the connection between provincial and municipal legislation and to briefly outline the Town’s various planning processes.
The subsequent workshop component allowed participants to actively engage by sharing their thoughts, experiences and concerns about topics such as development agreements, letters of credit, offsite levies, approval timelines, pre-application meetings and other development-related matters.
Attendees were also encouraged to suggest solutions to these issues and provide ideas on how to improve the Town’s Land Use Bylaw. The raw materials, or “what we heard,” regarding this discussion were sent to all workshop attendees on October 21, 2015.
“This workshop was definitely useful” said Kelly Erick of Sexsmith Surveys Ltd. “I took away information that I am able to use to help my landowner clients through the process.”
Staff presented a summary report on the feedback received to Council at their December 14 regular meeting. The feedback will be used to set short and longer term goals and to assist staff in preparing the Request for Proposals and the Terms of Reference for the 2016 Land Use Bylaw review project.
“Our Planning Department has adopted a culture that is enabling – and that is a progressive step in the relationship between administration and developers,” said Councillor Emile Blokland.
The final report from the workshop can be viewed at www.highriver.ca.