OLDS — Town council has waived development permit fees for several categories for six months to help spur the economy, which has been suffering, due to COVID-19 restrictions and the battered oil and gas sector.
The waivers apply to development permits for things like building single detached homes, duplexes, multiplexes and apartments, as well as commercial, industrial, institutional or recreational projects, home based businesses, and construction or renovation to create secondary suites and garages.
Council made that decision during its Feb. 8 meeting. The waiver period is retroactive to Jan. 1 this year and lasts until June 30 this year.
The waivers may be extended further. Council is expected to look at doing so before the current period ends.
Finance director Sheena Linderman estimated the waivers will cost the town about $40,000.
A town news release said the decision “could potentially save hundreds of dollars.”
During discussion on the matter, councillors stressed that this move doesn’t mean people looking at doing developments or improvements in the community don’t have to go through the regular bureaucratic process. They still do.
Linderman confirmed anyone wishing to undertake any projects in the above categories will still have to apply for necessary permits and pay any other fees required.
Earlier this year, Coun. Heather Ryan had asked town officials to look into the possibility of waiving the fees. She spoke in favour of the move during the Feb. 8 meeting.
"We are still under a lot of the COVID restrictions,” Ryan said. “This would be a way of maybe boosting people’s companies to come to town because of the fees being waived.
"I mean, every bit of encouragement helps, especially with the economy the way it is and that’s the reason why I raised what I did.”
Several other councillors expressed support for the idea.
"I think this is a very good, feel good, positive thing to do for business," Coun. Mitch Thomson said.
He suggested advertising it in various ways so people know about it. Chief administrative officer Michael Merritt said that will be done.
The town’s planning and development department is available to help with any questions and provide guidance on applications. Applications are available on the town’s website.