Local briefs – September 8

The City of Red Deer is looking at increasing offsite levies by 23 per cent this year. The offsite levies are the fees developers pay to the city to cover costs such as water, sanitary sewer, storm water and roads into new developments.

City offsite levies could increase

The City of Red Deer is looking at increasing offsite levies by 23 per cent this year.

The offsite levies are the fees developers pay to the city to cover costs such as water, sanitary sewer, storm water and roads into new developments.

This year, the city is looking at increasing the cost to developers to $191,585 per hectare — which would be an increase of $35,465 per hectare over last year.

The cost the developer pays is passed on to homeowners when they purchase the property.

Based on 14 residential lots in a hectare of property, the average homeowner would be required to pay $13,685 per property, or $2,534 more than last year.

Engineering Services Department manager Frank Colosimo said costs have gone up on the road portion of the levy with a refinement on the designs of the North Highway Connector, also known as the Northland Drive project, land costs have increased and carrying costs must be included in the offsite levy.

He said as development slows down, services still have to be brought to developed areas — meaning even though there is less development, the same amount of costs for services exist that have to be split among fewer developers.

The bylaw is expected to be tabled at today’s council meeting to Sept. 21.

Colosimo said that will allow for additional time for consultation.

The proposed increase comes after 2008 saw offsite levies increase $33,050 to $156,120 per hectare.

Arlington site no longer historic

The City of Red Deer will look at removing the historical significance designation from the former Arlington Hotel property at today’s council meeting.

The Arlington was one of around 99 properties that the city designated as potentially having historical significance around a decade ago. The designations were put in place in order to flag to the owner and the city that the property could have historical value and the designation prevents demolition for a short period of time while options to demolition are reviewed. Once that time period is up, the demolition can take place.

The City purchased the Arlington Hotel with the intention of tearing it down and eventually selling the property for a project to help revitalize the downtown. The Arlington Hotel was demolished in May.

The site will remain as a city centre commercial land use district designation.

City school enrolment on the rise

The Red Deer Public School District’s enrolment has broken the 10,000 mark.

This year there were 10,004 students in Red Deer Public classes on the first day of school. It’s the largest enrolment in the district’s history.

“School enrolments are up overall across the district with increases and decreases spread across the city and between grades,” said Don Falk, superintendent of the district. “We are always anxious to see the numbers, particularly this year with uncertainty in the local economy and with adjustments to education funding.”

The enrolment numbers were up 34 students from last year when the total number of students was 9,970. That’s a 0.34 per cent increase.

“We see this as a positive sign from the community that we have maintained our numbers, with a small increase in overall registrations,” Falk said.

The Red Deer Catholic Regional School Division has seen a 2.28 per cent increase in students, moving from 6,318 students in 2008 to 6,462 in 2009.

Christine Moore, chair of Red Deer Catholic board, stressed that they were preliminary numbers, but she said enrolment was quite a bit more than they had anticipated. The Catholic division was expecting an increase of 0.8 per cent this year.

“It’s way more than we forecasted so we’re really happy with that,” Moore said.

The numbers are preliminary. The official student counts for the provincial government take place on Sept. 30 and the numbers of students enrolled on that day will determine funding at the elementary and middle school levels for school districts across the province.

Local DQ donations bumped up

Extra work by the staff at Dairy Queen is being credited with most of a 33 per cent increase in the funds raised for the Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.

Rob Hamill, who runs the four Red Deer stores, said this year’s Miracle Treat Day collected about $53,500 compared with about $40,000 last year.

“The weather wasn’t all that great and we didn’t sell as many Blizzards but our staff did a great job ahead of time through selling the miracle balloons, holding bottle drives and conducting contests,” Hamill said.

Dairy Queen has been a sponsor of Children’s Miracle Network in Canada and the United States since 1984.

During the past 25 years, Dairy Queen operators throughout both countries have raised more than $77 million for the hospital network.

Hamill said this is a good avenue for the Dairy Queens to give back to the community in which they do business.

The Alberta hospitals that receive the funds are the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton and the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary.

Hamill said the downtown Dairy Queen sold about 11,500 Blizzards compared with about 3,300 last year.

He said there were so many balloons hanging in the downtown store that customers were inquiring how they could to hang one too.

Indecent exposure suspect held

A man charged with exposing himself to a young female child in a store has been remanded in custody.

James Darryl Hill, 53, of Red Deer was charged with indecent exposure to a person under the age of 16 after his arrest on Sept. 3.

Hill reserved his plea on Friday in provincial court and returns to court Wednesday.

He’s also charged with three counts of failing to comply with conditions of a probation order.

Const. Sabrina Grunow of city RCMP said a male exposed himself to the young female in a retail store on Aug. 27.

There was no physical contact between the accused and the young girl.

Pleas reserved on assault, robbery

Two men charged in early August with confining a man then beating and robbing him reserved their pleas in Red Deer court on Friday.

Than Tor Bul, 29, of Calgary was released on $25,000 bail in either a surety or cash and returns to court on Sept. 11.

Elia Dominic, 24, of Red Deer was remanded in custody until Sept. 16.

Dominic’s lawyer Lorne Goddard said he was prepared to make a bail application Friday but new information just came forward that indicates two people are alleged to have alibi information for the accused.

Crown prosecutor Jason Snider said the RCMP will need time to investigate the alleged information.

Dominic was arrested about a few days ago after a warrant had been issued for his arrest on Aug. 15.

Dominic is charged with robbery using a firearm, theft of more than $5,000, unlawful confinement, extortion, assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon.

Bul is charged with forcible confinement, extortion, robbery with a firearm, assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon.

A third accused, Gabriel Krereng, 28, of Calgary, returns to court on Sept. 29. He was released from custody earlier. He’s charged with forcible confinement, extortion, robbery with a firearm, assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm.

Police said on Aug. 8, a Red Deer man, 35, was allegedly confined in a bathroom and robbed and beaten by the suspects who were known to him.

The victim, who suffered undisclosed injuries, was then dropped off in downtown Red Deer.

Well information deadline extended

Alberta Environment continues to work with a Red Deer business owner and developer accused of drawing water for commercial use without authorization.

Norm Chiles, of Chiles Development Corp. and Chiles Homes, allegedly pumped water out of numerous wells in the Chiles Business Park, north of Red Deer, without approval. The provinces also alleges that groundwater studies were not supplied. They are required before a water well diversion licence can be issued.

A provincial enforcement order was issued in June that required Chiles to submit an inventory of existing wells on his property and provide a comprehensive groundwater evaluation study by July 31.

Alberta Environment spokeswoman Carrie Sancartier said this week that staff have been working with Chiles and have extended the deadline.

Chiles must now submit an inventory of existing wells by Sept. 15. The groundwater evaluation study must be finished by Oct. 31.

Chiles confirmed he has been given more time.

“The deadline has been extended and Chiles is actively working on (the department’s) requests,” he said, declining to comment further.

In 2001, Chiles applied for a licence to draw water from an underground aquifer. At that time, Alberta Environment staff alleged water had been drawn illegally for the previous nine years. Efforts to bring Chiles into compliance failed and the enforcement order was issued, said a department official.

Winds knocked out power

A brief period of high winds wreaked havoc among electricity customers across Central Alberta late Thursday afternoon, including sparking a grass fire just outside of Markerville.

Annette Gray, who lives southeast of the hamlet, said she had some nervous moments at about 5 p.m. when the wind knocked a spruce tree onto a power line. The line and some of the poles came down, generating sparks that lit the undergrowth on fire.

Spruce View and Red Deer County firefighters were on the scene within minutes and brought the fire under control, although it did roar back to life when the wind changed directions, said Gray.

By 6 p.m., the main fire was gone but there were still a few flare-ups in the undergrowth, she said.

Robyn Crawford, acting communications manager for Fortis Alberta, said 15 customers in the immediate area lost power as a result. Thirteen of the 15 homes were restored quickly, but the line and poles that were knocked down had to be fixed before the other two homes could come back on, said Crawford.

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