CANMORE – Canmore council approved a new fee schedule for municipal services for 2019, but debate about increasing what is currently charged for in-street patios downtown remained a contentious issue.
Manager of financial services Katherine
Van Keimpema presented the 2019-20 master fee schedule to council during her final finance committee meeting with the organization.
She told council the fee schedule is used throughout the organization to determine what rates are charged for certain services that are provided.
While usually included as part of the overall budget discussion, Van Keimpema brought it forward in October to ensure the updated fees would be included in budget calculations.
Fees can range from the cost of a photocopy – going up fifty cents to $1 – to the cost of fire inspection, facility rental rates, engineering and planning services, cemetery rates, film permits and use of heavy equipment.
While council supported the updated fee schedule, Mayor John Borrowman took issue with the fee for an in-street patio – again.
Two years ago, the mayor put forward a motion to increase the fee to $1,000 from administration’s recommended fee of $200 to register a patio and $100 per year for use of on-street parking.
The cost to construct and store the patio structures falls to the business, and Borrowman said earlier in October that $1,000 in his opinion does not reflect the value of using public space for private enterprise.
He proposed a motion to increase the permit fee by 20 per cent each year over the next three years, and admitted that number was arbitrary.
“It is a low amount for businesses to have access to that much Main Street property for the entire summer,” Borrowman said.
Council voted against the motion, with several councillors noting they aren’t opposed to considering a fee increase for the patios, but they need to understand the rationale for the calculation first.
“I would be amenable to that, but I would like to do some research,” said Coun. Joanna McCallum, adding it would be valuable to also understand how other communities calculate their fees for the same opportunity.
“Is it based on the size of the patio? Does it depend on how much parking is taken? I don’t think I could support this motion as is because it is arbitrary.”
McCallum also said businesses in the downtown should be consulted on the change and the rationale behind it before the fee schedule is amended.
Van Keimpema added the fee schedule could be amended at any time by motion of council in the future.