By Cole Parkinson
As the Municipal District of Taber council looks to combat thousands of different encroachments across the region, they still have not yet nailed down how to best approach it.
With the topic being brought up over the last few policy meetings, the committee still has not sent the policy to council for approval. After amendments were added which included additional information pertaining to the purpose of the bylaw — descriptions of the process of enforcement and updating the items outlined in the section ‘Definition of minor encroachments’ — council once again discussed how they want to proceed. One question stemming from the bylaw was around the time given to residents to complete any work that would fix the encroachments.
“I wondered if when we say ‘a timely matter’ if we should put a maximum time on there. Everyone has their own definition of a timely matter. Whether it be a 12 or 24-month period or something,” said Coun. Leavitt Howg.
While the original ‘Unlawful Use of Municipal Land Bylaw’ was adopted in 2010 as a way to slow the rate of encroachments into municipal right of way by landowners, it hasn’t stopped encroachments from popping up all across the M.D. With that in mind, some on council believe bringing everyone into compliance wouldn’t be possible.
“They first enacted this in 2010 to look at some of the encroachments and we’re here eight years later, and we still have issues. I don’t know that we are going to fix those. I think we recognize some are going to be there and are not ruining the road or drainage,” said Coun. Tamara Miyanaga.
As all of council, save for Reeve Brian Brewin, wasn’t at the table during the passing of the 2010 bylaw, administration says talks are very similar.
“This is almost identical to the conversation that happened in 2010 because we’ve got all of these examples where this exists, which is why it was a move forward policy from 2010 because it’s impossible to turn back the clock,” said CAO Derrick Krizsan.
Another thing council will have to decide is what date the policy will go back on, whether it be from the date it is approved, the 2010 date or all encroachments.
“Is it the 2010 date or is it new encroachments, is it carry forward or go back policy because that is going to impact the resources we’ll have to dedicate to that,” continued Krizsan.
Coun. Jen Crowson has maintained the view since the beginning that all encroachments should be targeted when they look to repair the damages done. She also realizes the amount of work that will bring to their staff.
“I think our goal should be to make mostly everything compliant,” she said. “It is going to be an administrative chore, for sure.”
With council struggling to come to a conclusion on the discussion, Crowson suggested bringing the topic to the public so they could give their opinion.
“It’s certainly something we could bring to the next Annual General Meeting. It makes a lot of sense to have the discussion at our AGM,” said Brewin. “I would rather see us working with the landowners saying ‘you’re five feet too close, you need to back away’.”
Council though was happy with the progress made with the policy.
“I think the changes outlined are what we are after. This will help moving forward with encroachments,” added Deputy Reeve Merrill Harris.
A motion was made to recommend the policy to M.D. of Taber council and was approved unanimously.