Information from Drumheller Town Council Committee of the Whole Meeting Monday, March 14, 2022
Deputy Mayor Tony Lacher opened the meeting and made several opening announcements.
He congratulated the Badlands Community Facility (BCF) on its 10 year anniversary on Saturday, March 12. At the celebration, the Drumheller Elks branch was awarded for its 100 years of service in the Drumheller Valley.
The Drumheller Resiliency and Flood Mitigation Office (DRFMO) is hosting the Riverside Drive Traffic Impact Assessment virtual information session on Wednesday, March 16 at 6 p.m.; an information session for Willow Estates is also scheduled on Friday, March 31 at 6 p.m.
Drumheller’s primary investment management service provider, CIBC Hobson Chahal Advisory Group portfolio managers, James Hobson and Charet Chahal provided the Committee with information regarding the town’s investments and the impact of ongoing world events.
Hobson Chahal is one of the largest firms in customized investments, working with some 55 municipalities and other public organizations and charities.
Mr. Hobson shared the United States recently reported the highest inflation in the last 40 years; the Canadian inflation rate is projected at about four per cent in 2022. However, the longterm forecast for Alberta is good, with a projected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth of 4.3 per cent–the fastest projected growth compared to other provinces and the national average.
Alberta could have the strongest provincial economy for the next two years and Mr. Chahal explained how the firm is helping to maximize the town’s investment profits amid volatile markets.
Manager of Economic Development Reg Johnston presented the Committee with the Extended Tourism Strategy previously identified as a strategic priority by council.
Mr. Johnston, TravelDrumheller Executive Director Julia Fielding, and Director of Infrastructure Dave Brett looked at various ways to help tourism business in the off-season, identified as September through March.
A need to widen the tourism season has been identified to help businesses thrive through the slower spring and fall months; this is being done through creating a new events calendar and promoting winter events such as Festival of Lights to promote Drumheller as a winter destination as well.
Ms. Fielding shared the Rocky Mountains are the only busy tourism location in Canada during the winter months and Destination Canada is also looking to widen the Canadian tourism season.
Mr. Johnston also provided a briefing note on Drumheller’s Residential Incentive Program bylaw amendment. Council asked for more information prior to considering a third reading to amend the Residential Incentive Program bylaw during the February 22 regular council meeting.
Feedback was requested from developers and they noted, while they are aware of the program, it is “not top of mind” and there needs to be more communication.
Allowing secondary suites was favourably looked upon as it would allow for greater affordability. These developments are encouraged under the Municipal Development Plan (MDP). Despite initial concerns, Mr. Johnston noted the Town’s property assessor has proved secondary suites can be assessed separately, though it will require additional administrative work.
Drumheller’s program was compared to similar programs in other municipalities; many of the comparable municipalities did not offer similar programs. Edson and Innisfail offer similar programs, though there are some differences; Edson’s program does not list any price parameters within the program and deferred property taxes become payable once certain conditions are met; Innisfail’s program offers potential reimbursement of up to $15,00 for approved projects, and multi-dwelling developments may qualify under this program.
As it is a seller’s market, lowering listing prices could be perceived as providing an unfair advantage as there are no comparable new-built homes within the proposed price range and developers noted it is difficult to build new developments for under $300,000. Most current builds are in the range of $530,000.
The final amended draft of the Residential Incentive Program will be brought before council for consideration.
Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Darryl Drohomerski provided an update on the CN Rail lease. The Town has been talking with CN Rail since about 2018 to develop a lease for “Rails to Trails,” an opportunity to turn former CN right-of-way into trails for walking or cycling. There are several kilometres running throughout the town from Wayne to Midland and, if signed, would give the town the ability to develop trail infrastructure.
Mr. Brett provided an update on the Wayne road Bridge 11 community engagement. Design work is underway and being finalized. Permit approval has been received from federal and provincial governments for the proposed design, and they are currently working on some land issues. Community engagements with Wayne and Dalum residents will move forward once these issues have been resolved.
Mr. Brett and communications officer Erica Crocker will meet with a consultant to develop a full community engagement plan and communications; these will be brought before Drumheller and Wheatland County councils for review and comment within the coming few weeks.
Ms. Crocker gave a communications update on the public participation survey. Data from a survey conducted in 2017 may be considered outdated, and it is recommended a new survey be conducted to determine community social needs, especially following the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Questions for the new survey are drafted and will be brought to Council for review later this month.
The meeting adjourned to closed session.
Complete minutes from council meetings can be found on
www.drumheller.ca once they have been adopted.