Approximately 28 people dialed in for the Town of St. Paul’s telephone town hall to discuss the Land Use Bylaw, which town staff have been reviewing and updating for the past two years.
According to Coun. Brad Eamon, the land use bylaw is the document which governs all planning and development decisions in the town.
“It is important to keep the document fresh and updated. This ensures that the rules are reasonable and effective and will reflect new trends in building and site design,” said Eamon.
The hour long Q and A was wide ranging, below is a summary of some of the questions. A full recording of the call is expected to be available on the Town of St. Paul website in the near future.
What is the difference between the current land use bylaw and the new draft?
“The new document is much more user friendly,” said Mayor Maureen Miller. She said the new bylaw has hyperlinks to help find more detail about particular areas in town or requirements or restrictions in place. “We’ve also attempted to use very common language that is intended to make it very easy to process.”
The new draft also increases the number of building permits that do not require pre-approval from 29 to 39.
How long is a development permit good for?
“I believe that once the permit is issued it would be valid for one year. I do want to encourage you all to apply for your permits in advance before you get going on any of your projects, just in case there’s any hiccups or delays along the way,” said Eamon.
How long does a development permit take to be issued?
According to Eamon, it depends on the use but the planning and development authority needs to make a decision within 40 days of receiving the application.
“Internally, I believe we have a target around 21 days. But again, a lot of factors will come in to play with that,” said Eamon.
Is it the same thing as a building permit?
The development permit authorizes the building or use of a building. “When our department receives an application, some of the things that are reviewed particular to the zoning district would be the setbacks, any height, the views, maximum lot coverage, as well as floor area and landscaping as needed,” said Miller.
A building permit involves a qualified building safety codes officer and inspections. They look at the plans to find any problems before you start and inspect the project to make sure it meets the standards of the Alberta building code and that it’s safe to occupy.
Is it possible to know what types of permits are being issued by the planning department or to confirm that my neighbour has a permit for their project?
According to Director of Planning and Development, Aline Brousseau the department tries to update the permits on the town website once a week.
“This helps educate our ratepayers as far as the types of developments permits that are coming in. And so people could know what types of permits are being issued and kind of the timelines if they have any inquiries or questions with regards to a permit that has been received by the department,” said Brousseau.
Why do I need to obtain approval from Alberta Transportation for my proposed development?
According to Miller, because the Main Street of St. Paul is a provincial highway it is regulated by Alberta Transportation.
“You would think it would just affect 50 of Avenue. But it doesn’t, it actually encompasses most of St. Paul, if there’s any kind of subdivision or other decisions that need to be made. And we have been working quite extensively with our MLA David Hanson to lift some of those restrictions that they have on us,” said Miller, noting many other towns in the province have the same issue.
She said the delays they often run in to with Alberta Transportation are one of the reasons why it’s important to apply for permits early.