Turner Valley council has given first reading proposing several amendments to the land use bylaw which are hoped to stimulate economic activity and make the application process easier for developers and entrepreneurs.
“I’m really happy with this document,” said Turner Valley Coun. Lana Hamilton at council’s March 15 meeting. “It definitely promotes our desire to be open for business and to streamline our processes.”
Michelle Ouellette, Turner Valley director of development and Infrastructure, said some of the highlights of the proposed bylaw included consolidating the now current seven residential districts into four.
She added commercial and industrial uses also were made easier to interpret.
“Really this project was about updating the land-use bylaw, "Ouellette said. "it doesn’t represent a full re-write. We re-organized and made the bylaw easier to use.”
Other amendments include removing minimum parking requirements for non-residential usage.
“What this means is staking away the regulatory side of minimum parking for the Town and allowing the business or the free market to decide how much parking is required for that business in order to support convenient access for their customers," Ouellette said.
An online survey showed 28 out of 37 respondents either strongly agreed or agreed with removing minimum requirements for [non-residential] parking.
The survey also showed 26 respondents either strongly agreed or agreed that the proposed changes will make it easier to start or expand a business.
“Clearer definitions of what is a major home occupation and minor occupation are also included,” Ouellete said.
Coun. Cindy Holladay said she is concerned with the discrepancy in the proposed bylaw between the commercial highway business and central business land uses.
“We only have seven properties that are considered commercial highway,” Holladay said. “One’s our town shop, one’s the RCMP building, one is Porchlight (Developments), two are empty and two are residential houses. There is really no purpose for having that commercial highway district... I think we should eliminate it.”
She added as of now there are some companies in the central business district which don’t necessarily fit into that criteria.
“They are classified wrong, or they are not matching the land-use bylaw. If we are going to work at changing the bylaw, I think we have to have it right and have it cleaned up,” she said.
Coun. Jonathan Gordon said he would like to look at giving consideration to including regulation requirements for tiny homes, such as 600 to 700 square feet, noting that he had received inquiries in that regard from some residents, including seniors.
A date for second readind and the public hearing will be set in the near future.