Cochrane is in a good financial place, according to the town's audited 2018 financial statements.
A "modest surplus" of $90,530 was presented by the town's auditors MNP LLP, with the funds redirected into the facilities life cycling reserve to replace capital assets in the future.
“Council uses the annual budget process to plan ahead to make the best use of our tax dollars and funding, to develop goals for major projects, and manage debt to ensure we don’t place an undue burden on future residents,” said Mayor Jeff Genung in a press release.
“The financial statements and report to the community confirms that council’s priorities, our current financial position and capital projects are aligned with priorities that are important to the community, today and for the future.”
Off Leash park criteria
Brad Luft, manager of parks and open spaces, returned to council Monday night with draft criteria to develop guide the inclusion of off leash dog parks in new communities.
Among the criteria include management of wildlife interface, proper gates, fencing, access and a minimum of 1.5 acres in size.
Much of council's debate centered on gates and pathways - namely the interface of parks with regional/multi-use pathways and whether or not the proposed merit to prohibit developers from installed gates in residential yards backing onto the off leash parks.
Council has yet to adopt the criteria, which will return to council after summer.
Whistle cessation at future Horse Creek crossing
Council moved forward with directing administration to proceed with the application to Canadian Pacific Railway and Transport Canada for whistle cessation at the future at-grade pedestrian crossing at Horse Creek. This will provide safe connectivity to Cochrane core for residents of Heritage Hills and Heartland.
According to staff, the construction will take place this summer but has faced some weather delays due to heavy rainfall. It is anticipated that construction will begin in August.
The crossing station will have all the required arms, signs, lights and enunciator built into it to protection users and rail staff; this is believed to alleviate the need for whistle blowing at the crossing.
The decision on whistle cessation lies with CP Rail. No major concerns are anticipated by town staff, as all requirements have been met to date.
Land Use Bylaw update
One of the major undertakings for town planning, the overhaul of the town's Land Use Bylaw, is moving ahead.
Led by planning manager, Riley Welden, an update on what has come out of stakeholder and public consultations, as well as research into other land use bylaws in North America was presented.
Chief issues resulting for administration to address include, traffic congestion; parking challenges in residential and commercial areas; diversification of housing options; addressing availability of affordable housing options; clear signage with respect to development; supporting emerging commercial trends such as mixed-use developments; integrating transit and pedestrian street-design; improving connections and accessibility; ensuring town documents provide ease of use/are more readable; and maintaining unique character/Western Heritage Design Guidelines for Historic Downtown.
The team will return this fall with further updates. Implementation is aiming for spring of 2020.
Matrix for Rolling Trails Area Redevelopment Plan
A snapshot of what plans may lie ahead for the Rolling Range/Towers Trail country-residential area were revealed at Monday night council.
The former town council implemented the Community Enhancement Evaluation as a "matrix" or additional step to liaison council and the public with future development plans.
The applicant, Canopy Lands, shared its plans for redevelopment of the area, which currently has 38 residences on small acreages.
Stressing that the plans to begin to develop are several years away, with first residents not anticipated for around five years, the full build would be market-dependant and take 30-40 years.
Plans include a commercial/village centre component along Highway 22 and there would be improvements made to the intersection, providing an eventual second access for Fireside residents.
The residential component was stressed as providing something "unique and different" to the town, that would not compete with the currently saturated housing market. More estate-style homes, wider lots comparable to Bow Meadows and more senior living options are integral to the plan.
While it is too preliminary to gauge number of homes, at full build out, the developers did say it could be around 6,000 residents.
East End redesignation
Council passed an application to redesignate 316 First Street East to Commercial-Business, paving the way for a "one-stop shop" medical centre.
Council gave the green light, amended to include a three-storey height maximum (rather than five); on-site parking setbacks; and the requirement for the applicant Urban DevPro Ltd. to provide comprehensive development plans to respect the integrity of the established residential community in the East End.
Louis Arseneault, Ben Clarke, Marla Kerr and Chris Konanz were appointed as public at large members to the Mayor and Council Remuneration Task Force on Monday night. The intention of the committee is to examine and provide recommendations of salaries and compensations for mayor and council.