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Commercial, residential subdivisions receive extensions

“The primary cause of this is the difficult year we’ve all been through. I can appreciate how that would have slowed down the work the developer is doing. I’m certain the developer would like to get these subdivisions to the point where they can be selling the lot. This seems like a straightforward request.”

CANMORE – A series of extensions for proposed developments at Silvertip were approved by Canmore council as engineering plans continued to be designed and subsequently reviewed by municipal staff.

The extensions for Silvertip are for the eventual creation of 18 commercial lots – including for resort accommodation and a spa – 58 residential homes and new public roads. Council also approved an extension to move the boundaries of three lots at the downtown Railway Court project.

“The primary cause of this is the difficult year we’ve all been through,” Mayor John Borrowman said. “I can appreciate how that would have slowed down the work the developer is doing. I’m certain the developer would like to get these subdivisions to the point where they can be selling the lot. This seems like a straightforward request.”

Under the Municipal Government Act (MGA), an endorsement of a subdivision is needed within one-year of an approval unless an extension is provided by council.

Largely a formality, the endorsement allows for the developer to take the plan of the subdivision to land titles, which will allow them to create the lots and roads and begin selling the future property.

“There’s endorsements where the municipality has approved the engineering drawings, agree with the lot sizes and are happy with the way it looks. Once we stamp it with the endorsement, they can take it to land titles, have those lots registered and sell titled lots,” said Tracy Woitenko, a development planner for the Town.

The MGA allows one or more extensions and for more than one year, but Woitenko said only one-year was needed for the endorsements.

The subdivision process has the engineering drawings be approved followed by a development agreement signed, which allows work to begin for municipal improvements, Woitenko told council.

An extension was granted for Silvertip block three, which will see the creation of 18 commercial lots and the necessary road access, which had previously been approved by the Subdivision Approval Authority (SAA) on Oct. 13, 2020.

The engineering drawings are continuing to be developed, a staff report to council stated. While much of the infrastructure will be completed prior to the extension having been granted, the report highlighted the necessary municipal improvements could not be finished before the one-year deadline.

A subsequent extension was approved for Silvertip block 10 that will eventually create 58 residential homes in addition to the creation of public roads. It had previously been approved by the SAA on Nov. 24, 2020.

In addition, Railway Court received a one-year extension that will see a 758-square-metre portion of 12th St. and 3rd Ave. – known as Railway Court – move the boundaries of three lots. It has had engineering designs be prepared and reviewed by Town staff.

The agreement had the Town and the applicant enter into an offer to purchase on Feb. 5, 2020 to close and purchase part of the road. However, the process was delayed due to the pandemic.

The high ground water levels led to a short construction season, meaning deep utilities are likely to be done next spring if construction does not begin until the fall.

Council has also amended a bylaw for SDAB appeals that are withdrawn, which would see applicants who do so have their fees refunded.

“It addresses how refunds will be dealt with moving forward when it comes to appeals that come forward and ensures all procedural matters associated with the subdivision and appeal board are housed under one document,” said Lauren Miller, the Town’s manager of planning and development.

The fees were to ensure staff time was cost recovered, but Miller said the planning department will be doing a comprehensive review of the fee schedule going into 2022.

Miller added the intention is to have an escalating fee schedule to deter developers from continually coming back for endorsements, but they do have a right under the MGA to do so.

"The next council can anticipate some adjustment to the fees associated with this type of application and a broader review in the months to come," she said.

Woitenko highlighted that both the Town and developers are motivated to complete the process, but the difficulties in working with public health restrictions for COVID-19 led to some delays.

“The applicant has been working very hard with us and as fast as we can through challenging times with COVID to have the detailed engineering drawings approved so they can start construction," she said. "We’ve both been motivated, but it’s been challenging.”