City council passed a bylaw amendment on Monday afternoon that will change how the public will be notified about development permit approvals.

The amended bylaw states that there will be no more mandatory signage requirements, as well as an expanded notification distance from adjacent landowners to 60 meters. As the bylaw amendment is written currently, supportive housing, as well as infill development would still require signage. 

Councillors pushed back on doing away with the mandatory signage, many stating their concerns. However, Gail Gibeau with the City said that the administration has noticed that some of the processes are not only redundant but also ineffective. 

"The signage that's been posted by the applicants right now is sent in eight-and-half by 11 [inches] and they're required to post it on their property. It gives basic details about the application. What we're seeing is that that is not necessarily visible from the street. We're not seeing a lot of value in those types of signage," Gibeau explained. "That's different if there is a Land Use Bylaw and a public hearing requirement; those have specific signage requirements. But the ones for development permits are very limited and we're not seeing a lot of value in those posts, particularly on the residential properties."

Councillor Heather Spearman queried whether there was a possibility of simply enlarging the signage rather than doing away with the requirement altogether. Gibeau said that while Calgary uses large signage boards, they also have a specifically contracted company that is in charge of that, something Airdrie does not currently have the resources for. 

Councillor Jones also inquired about the cost of enlarged signs. Jamal Ramjohn with the City explained that the cost would be significant.

"I would advise council at this time that it would be a punitive measure and quite costly for us to go down that same road at the size municipality that we are."

Councillor Chapman pointed out that in an early December 2023 meeting of the Municipal Planning Committee (MPC) which also discussed the bylaw amendments, there were comments within the MPC meeting that it was the applicant's responsibility to post signage and yet oftentimes it wasn't being done, which begged the question of whether or not there are any penalties to applicants who do not post development permit approvals.

"The short answer is no, not really. The long answer is we could go after the applicant in terms of measures on the land use bylaw. We can suspend the development permit," Gibeau answered.

The MPC did not fully support the bylaw amendment, stating it would prefer to see the amendment focusing solely on the expansion of notification to residents to 60 meters, rather than doing away with the development permit signage. 

"It's worth noting that MPC did discuss amending the bylaws to remove the mandatory on-site requirement only for residential uses but ultimately decided against making that distinction and voted to keep that particular requirement," Gibeau added.

Gibeau also explained that signage and a building inspection are separate and that building permits would still have to be posted by the applicants. 

As far as the change in notifications to surrounding residents, Gibeau said that the 60-meter change may mean upwards of 30 additional letters will be sent to residents, from a previous seven or eight adjacent residences.

Previous city documents estimated that a 60-meter radius would incur an additional annual cost of approximately $10,000. 

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