Airdrie City Council voted in favour of the potential of looking into several different ways of notifying residents of development permit decisions in their areas, specifically when it comes to the minimum requirements. 

On Monday, council accepted the administration's recommendations to accept a list of proposed notification measures for information, along with what the city currently does when notifying residents of proposed developments in their areas. A public hearing is also planned on the matter for January 15.

One of the proposed changes is to expand the notification radius via direct mail notification.

"Based on data from development permit approvals between July and September 2023, Administration explored expanding notification distances to 60 meters 40 meters, and 20 meters."

However, it was noted that a 60-meter distance aligns with the mandatory notification distance used for changes to land use districting/zoning.

City documents outlined that a 60-meter radius would increase the average number of letters per application by 30, incurring an additional annual cost of approximately $10,000. A 40-meter radius would increase the average number of letters by 19, costing an additional $6,000. While a 20-meter radius would increase the letters to 11 per application, costing an additional $3,000.

Earlier this month, a proposed amendment to the Land Use Bylaw was presented to the Municipal Planning Commission (MPC), seeking to extend the direct mail notification distance and also eliminate a mandatory onsite signage requirement.

"The MPC did not fully support the bylaw and unanimously [and] recommended that Council adopt an amended version, focusing solely on expanding the notification distance to 60 meters."

Other proposed avenues of notifications include a development notice map, which is in the process of being created. This map would display approvals for all development permit applications and would be meant to serve as, 'a visual representation of the development notices webpage, exclusively showcasing decisions during the appeal period.'

"In phase two of this project, we intend to expand its capabilities. This expansion will involve providing information about the development permit application status and its progress through the approval process. Additionally, we plan to incorporate a "contact a planner" feature for each development decision, enabling citizens to email the file manager directly with questions and concerns," City documents explained.

The first phase, which is the map itself will be live online at the end of this month. 

Another proposed change would be to have additional Land Use Bylaw regulations for infill development, as well as better utilizing notifications via the MyAirdrie application. The fourth proposition is centred around public awareness and education. 

Currently, public notification within a development application process is stipulated by the Land Use Bylaw and the Public Notification Bylaw.

"For Permitted Uses, notifications are sent to the applicants, and information is made available on our website. However, when it comes to Discretionary Uses or Permitted Uses with variances, the notification process becomes more comprehensive," City documents stated.

Gail Gibeau with the City's Planning team explained that the Municipal Government Act only mandates notification to the applicant of a decision and does not specify who or how affected landowners should be notified.

"For permitted uses notifications are sent to the applicants and information is made available on our website. However, when it comes to discretion, uses are permitted uses with variances, and the notification process becomes more comprehensive," she said,

Currently, there are several ways in which residents are notified which include, a notification to the applicant in the form of a letter, also known as a Notice of Decision (NOD), adjacent landowner notification, and onsite signage, as well as advertising in the local newspaper and on the City of Airdrie's website.

Councillor Candice Kolson said that she would also like to see larger development signs, especially in more established neighbourhoods.

"If you have a developer coming into an existing neighbourhood, the neighbours deserve to have some kind of a larger notification like they do in Calgary, that something's about to happen there so that they have those details."

As part of its review administration also looked at how other municipalities deal with development notifications. Both Calgary and Cochrane have interactive web-based maps as part of their notification process, while places like Chestermere only provide notice to the applicant only. 

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