The Sylvan Lake town council reviewed and assessed a range of propositions during Feb. 14 Regular Meetings of Council.
Budget 2022 approval
Sylvan Lake’s town council has approved the 10-Year Capital Plan, an Operating Budget of $41,900,445 and a Capital Budget of $9,959,000.
The 2022 Budget includes a 3.82 percent municipal tax rate increase for both residential and non-residential properties with a marginal increase in transportation levy and no impact on recreation levy.
Utility rates will also increase in 2022 to support growth infrastructure requirements and the increased costs of wastewater transmission and treatment. The average household will see an increase in the monthly bill by $8 dollars or $96 per year, shared the meeting agenda document. When final property assessments are completed, and the provincial school tax requisitions are received, the tax rate bylaw will come to council for approval in April 2022. Combined tax and assessment notices will be sent out at the end of May with taxes due on July 31, 2022.
After two consecutive years of no rate increases, in order to maintain service levels, and to continue being financially stable, the Town of Sylvan Lake says it requires tax and utility rate increases to fund both operating and capital budgets.
The 2022 Budget is based on $20 million in new assessment being added to the tax base. When finalizing tax rates in April, significant deviations from this estimate may result in budget changes at that time. A supplemental tax is also planned to be levied in 2022 after two years without the tax being collected, shared the town.
Short-Term Accommodation Rental Licensing Bylaw #1842/2021
The council held a second reading for the Short-Term Accommodation Rental Licensing Bylaw which has been postponed to March 14 regular council meeting to allow time for additional information.
With the popularity of short-term accommodation rentals (STARs) over the last decade through various online booking platforms (e.g. Airbnb, VRBO), the Planning and Development department sees a need to review the new impacts and opportunities that are created. As a tourist destination, there has always been interest and demand from visitors to Sylvan Lake in the rental of private homes for vacation purposes, the department added.
Land Use Bylaw Tourist Home Amendments Bylaw 1851-2022
The council held a second reading for Land Use Bylaw Tourist Home Amendments, and being of similar subject matter to Bylaw #1842/2021 has also been postponed for March 14. The Planning and Development department is reviewing opportunities created as a result of the increasing demand for rental of private homes for vacations purposes. Amendments to the land use bylaw would include removal of regulations for tourist homes and the requirement for a development permit.
Bylaw #1850/2022 Amendment to the Fees and Charges Bylaw #1833/2021
Being of similar subject matter to Bylaw #1842/2021, a second reading for Bylaw #1850/2022 Amendment to the Fees and Charges Bylaw #1833/2021 has been postponed to March 14.
The Short-Term Accommodation Rental Licensing Bylaw #1842/2021 is a new bylaw proposed to replace current regulations for tourist homes, now further referred to as short-term accommodation rentals (STARS), under the Land Use Bylaw and the previous Business Licensing Bylaw.
2021 Concerns and Requests Report
The town council reviewed and accepted the 2021 Public Concerns and Requests report that summaries the concerns and requests received by town staff each quarter. All matters are logged, tracked, and followed up on with the individual submitting the concern or request, shared town Corporate Services department. The department received a total of 4960 public concerns and requests throughout 2021.
Open Microphone response
The town council shared a response to questions posed by Mr. Steven Bedford at the Jan. 10 and Jan. 24 Regular Meetings of Council. Bedford’s questions and concerns were around vaccine passports, municipal taxes, and municipal inspection/audit, among others.
Community member Laura Lauder reached out to council with concerns of parents and students feeling helpless when it comes to an individual’s safety around the area of H. J. Cody High School, especially noticed during the school lunchtime. Lauder requests council recognizes this as a problem that needs immediate attention. She asks the council to have a local RCMP be part of the solution by having their presence in the area every school day.
“By this I do not mean for them to have a car drive by every once in awhile. What I would like to see is… one or two RCMP officers standing in the area, full of confidence and showing that they are not to be messed with and that the area is protected. Second, if council is willing to proceed with my first request I ask that you move forward with this promptly,” said Lauder.
A detailed plan to cater to this matter is expected to be released soon.