Capstone Infrastructure presents to Kneehill County Council

Kneehill Logo 2019

Kneehill County held a regular meeting of council on Tuesday May 25, 2021, which was called to order at 8:30 a.m. by Reeve Jerry Wittstock.

The first item on the Council’s agenda was delegation item 3.1, Capstone Infrastructure, presented by Lucus Reindler, Andrea Kausel, and Megan Hunter.

Capstone Infrastructure is a Canadian developer and long-term owner operator of wind, solar, run-of-river hydro, biomass & natural gas co-generation.

The Kneehill Solar project was an acquired project from Samsung Renewables in March 2021. Newsletters were sent to residents in May and initial engagement initiated with landowners closest to the site.

Detailed engineering, equipment selection and procurement planning is currently ongoing. There has been no change in overall capacity (25 MW) or total project footprint, and the site is to go into construction this fall.

The next steps for the project are to finalize equipment design and update AUC (May/June), to continue engagement with landowners and county to ensure understanding of proposed changes, issue tender for construction, and execute module supply contract, and update county development permit and initiate construction.

Council received the presentation from Capstone Infrastructure for information, as presented.

Next item on the Council’s agenda was item 5.1.1, Policy 5-1 Subdivision, Development Fees and Refunds Policy Review, presented by Barb Hazelton, Manager of Planning & Development.

As part of Council’s ongoing review of current policies, and in particular, policies that have not been reviewed for a period of time exceeding four years, Council Policy 5-1, Subdivision and Development Fees and Refunds Policy was presented for Council to review.

Administration has substantially changed this policy. There was no Purpose, Guidelines or Procedures which are a critical piece of any policy. It provides a standard that will ensure consistency in how Applicants/Developers are treated. Administration also did not have any direction for application refunds which has now been included in the draft.

Any requests by an Applicant/Developer to waive applicable fees will be through an application to Council.

Administration has also included a section specific to refunds. Refunds are based on the amount of internal work that has been completed prior to the request. This gives specific guidance to the Planning Department to ensure any refunds or partial refunds are consistently applied to all applicants.

Council approved Policy 5-1, Subdivision & Development Fees & Refunds Policy, as presented.

Next item on the Council’s agenda was item 5.1.2, Policy 5-8, Subdivision- General Conditions Review, presented by Hazelton.

Council Policy 5-8, Subdivision-General Conditions was presented for Council to review.

Administration separated the policy into two sections for ease of use. Standard conditions, which are applied to all subdivision approvals, and a list of other conditions, that are only included if applicable.

Administration has also included several other conditions specifically relating to reserves. They also included some conditions relating to Environmental Reserves, Reserve Easements and/or Conservation Reserves as they have utilized a couple of these conditions since this policy was previously reviewed.

Administration has removed a couple of conditions that would be more applicable for development. It should be noted that this list does not need to be exhaustive. The Municipal Planning Commission can always add a condition(s) that would be unique for a specific application. This does, however, allow them to be consistent in the conditions that they typically use.

Council approved Policy 5-8, Subdivision – General Conditions, as presented.

Next item on the council’s agenda was item 5.1.3, Policy 5- 2, Development Agreement Requirements Policy, presented by Hazelton.

To develop a policy that provides a consistent approach for all developers required to upgrade or construct municipal infrastructure as part of their conditions of development.

Development Agreements may be a requirement of an Applicant/Developer as per the Municipal Government Act. Specifically, when an applicant is required to upgrade or construct any infrastructure that will be transferred to the County once complete. Typically, the agreements themselves are a function of administration, however, currently they are being brought to Council for consideration.

This policy allows administration to draft and execute these agreements in a consistent manner which clarifies the process for all applicants/developers. Since this policy will have Council oversight, it will not be essential for administration to bring the agreements to Council in the future. This also ensures that the same rules apply to all developers, whether local or otherwise.

Since Kneehill County does not currently have a policy specifically related to development agreements this has been drafted for discussion purposes. Council feedback will be incorporated into the policy which will be brought back to a future Council meeting for approval.

Specific Feedback Requested The security required should be based on the level of risk that Council is comfortable with if the developer does not complete the construction as required. Administration is proposing a graduated scale for the percentage required for security as the risk level would be considerably lower for a small project vs. a large project.

To provide some context, someone that applies for a Country Residential development (five lots or more) would be required to put in a service road. Under the current GMSS policy, the service road must be paved and has to meet a minimum standard.

The paving requirement is new, and to date it has not been utilized. These projects are typically initiated by local landowners. Larger projects will carry a higher level of risk if not completed to the appropriate standard. It should be noted that any deficiencies in infrastructure must be addressed before a Final Acceptance Certificate is signed off on by the municipal engineer and the transfer is made to the municipality.

Council received information Policy 5-2 and directed Administration to bring it back to a future council meeting.

Next item on the Council’s agenda was item 5.3.1, Horseshoe Canyon Focus Group Recommendations from April 20 Committee of the Whole Meeting, presented by Shelby Sherwick, Manager of Parks & Agricultural Services.

At the April 20 Committee of the Whole Meeting, the final recommendations from the Horseshoe Canyon Focus Group were presented to Council.

The presentation outlined the recommendations from the Horseshoe Canyon Focus Group Recommendations report. The recommendations were finalized with the framework of the following key considerations: positive visitor experience, economic benefit, responsible management.

The group thoroughly reviewed and discussed the strategies as presented in the Horseshoe Canyon Master Plan, and recommended strategies from the Focus Group were organized into three categories: strategies to consider first, strategies to consider next, and strategies to consider Later.

From the focus group recommendations on the Horseshoe Canyon Master Plan, considerations for future initiatives will be brought forward to Council during budget deliberations by Administration.

Council approved the Horseshoe Canyon Focus Group report and presentation, as recommended at the April 20 Committee of the Whole Meeting.

Next item on the Council’s agenda was item 8.1, Salary Disclosure List, presented by Mike Haugen, CAO.

The County’s current compensation philosophy is to position the County at the 50th percentile of the market. This means that amongst the County’s comparables, consisting of a group of municipalities in the central Alberta region, the County is positioned at the midpoint of the market.

In general, half of the comparables compensate more than the County and half of the comparables compensate less.

Administration does not believe that this is a common practice for municipalities in Alberta. The few examples found from much larger municipalities that do some version of this list tend to have higher thresholds and do not personalize the list on an employee basis.

Residents are requesting a list of senior management or administration making higher than $100,000 a year. They are wanting transparency, and Councillor Hugo said that they have a right to know this information and that Council should provide this list and support administration.

Council accepted the discussion for information, as presented.

Next item on the Council’s agenda was item 8.2, Council Tender Review, presented by Haugen.

Councillor Hugo is suggesting that the review of tenders over $500,000.00 no longer be conducted by Administration and is to be conducted by Council.

Purchasing law is the same regardless of who conducts the review. Kneehill County reviews and awards procurement administratively, within the scope of the County’s procurement policy and other legislation such as the Canadian Free Trade Agreement and the New West Partnership Trade Agreement.

There is a time savings to having these proposals reviewed by Administration as review and award does not need to wait for the next Council Meeting. This also helps to prevent the politicization of procurement. Administration also notes that tender responses for infrastructure or large quantity services are reviewed by engineering consultants. The recommendations received from those consultants would not change whether Council or Administration were conducting a review.

Reeve Wittstock said that when the tenders come in, there is a budget set in place, and if the tender is over the budget, it does come to Council for review.

Council requested administration to provide a tender process presentation to a future council meeting.

Meeting adjourned, the next Kneehill Council Meeting will be held on June 8, 2021 at 8:30 am in the Council Chambers.