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The process for Amending the Land Use Bylaw for a proposed Development

As discussed last month The Land Use Bylaw is a policy document that regulates land use. It is approved by Town Council and is required by the Province of Alberta in the Municipal Government Act. The Land Use Bylaw is a highly detailed set of rules used by the Development Officer to guide land uses and development that occurs on specific sites. The text of the bylaw describes specific land use districts and their requirements. Examples of details include the land uses that are allowed, required setbacks from property lines and other buildings, minimum and maximum density, height requirements and parking requirements.

Any changes to the Land Use Bylaw must be completed through the public hearing process, and be presented to Town Council for the final decision.

It is wise for anyone with a development/business idea to meet with the town Development Officer. If required this meeting may include the CAO. This helps both the applicant and staff to determine what would be required to make your application a reality.

If the idea does not fit with the existing land use district, an amendment to the Land Use Bylaw may be required.  A Land Use Bylaw Amendment may include changing the text of the Land Use Bylaw to allow for a specific land use or development to occur. It may also change development standards or change the land district designation that applies to a particular parcel of land (also known as rezoning).  An amendment is required if the property does not currently allow for that particular development, land use, parcel size or density. An amendment must be adopted by council. According to the Municipal Government Act there must be a public hearing to discuss the proposed amendment which is advertised for 2 weeks prior to the hearing.

On October 17 there will be a public hearing at on a proposed development in Rosedale. The meeting will take place at 4.30pm at Town Hall which is at 224 Centre Street. This is your opportunity to offer support or state your concerns over this development. 

Details of all public hearings (along with all Council meeting agendas) can be found in the council agenda package which is posted on the town’s website a few days prior to the meeting. For more information on bylaws, and public hearings contact the CAO’s office at

This month I wanted to talk about Bylaws, what they are and the process involved in approving and amending them. On September 6 Town Council will be discussing amendments to the Land Use Bylaw. This bylaw determines how land can be developed in Drumheller. 

So firstly what is a bylaw?

Bylaws are the laws a municipality devises. The 'by' in bylaw is an old norse word meaning town. A bylaw is simply a town or local law.

Bylaws can't be created out of thin air. Canadian municipalities don't have constitutional status of their own so they can only pass laws authorized by other levels of government. The Municipal Government Act and the Traffic Safety Act delegate authority for local bylaws. The 'Whereas' clause you see at the beginning of bylaws usually explains where the authority for the bylaw is coming from.

Some bylaws are mandatory for example every municipality in Alberta must pass a land use bylaw. Some bylaws are only required if a municipality wants to carry out a certain type of activity such as designating heritage buildings in their area.

What is a bylaw reading?

You will read in the paper or hear on the radio that a bylaw has received "first reading" or it has passed "third reading". All bylaws must pass three readings before they can become law. This means that council has three separate chances to consider the pros and cons on a particular bylaw. This regulation is there to ensure that every bylaw is carefully considered before it is passed. First reading is a test of whether or not council wishes to consider an issue at all. It is not usually an indication of whether or not council supports the bylaw. Second reading is when council can debate the issue, make amendments and vote again. This time council is voting on whether or nor they support the bylaw. Third reading is the last chance for debate, amendments and voting. If a bylaw fails any of the readings it dies.

Does the public have opportunity for input?

Lots of things can happen in between bylaw readings. In some case like Land use Bylaws, municipalities are required to hold a public hearing after first reading has passed, but before second reading is considered. The first reading must be passed so that council can decide if they support continuing with the debate at all. After the public hearing council will call for a second reading which is when they can debate the bylaw, consider public input, propose changes and ultimately vote on whether or not it should pass.

Council can decide to hold a public information session or gather public input in other ways even when it is not required by legislation. Sometimes Council will ask municipal staff to provide more information before a final decision is made. This usually happens after a second reading when council has had a chance to debate the issue and determine if they need more input before continuing.

September 6th meeting

Here are the details of the September 6th meeting about Amendments to the Land Use Bylaw (bylaw 10-08). 

The purpose of Bylaw 10-16 is to consider amendments to Land Use Bylaw No. 10-08 to provide clarification for existing land uses as well as new definitions; amend portions of the general regulations; and refine standards pertaining to front setbacks within the Town of Drumheller. 

Oral and written comments and suggestions are invited and should be addressed to the specifics of the proposed amendment. They may be made by any persons or group of persons or person acting on his/her or their behalf who claims to be affected by the proposed amendment, and by any other persons that the Council wishes to hear at the hearing. Written submissions may be made by the persons above, and may be received in the TOwn of Drumheller office by 4.00pm on September 6th 2016. Oral presentations may be made at the hearing by the persons above whether or not they have made a written presentation. The time limit of oral presentations is subject to the direction of the Chairperson. 

So September 6 is your opportunity to be part of the discussion. If you have any questions feel free to call the CAO's office on 403 823 1339.

As with any Bylaws under consideration details can be found in the council agenda package which is posted on the town's website  a few days prior to the meeting.

For more information on any of Drumheller's bylaws again contact the CAO's office at  


As I sit down and write this, it’s hard to believe we’re less than a month away from Christmas! Not only is it Christmas season it’s also budget planning season. Council and administration will be working very hard over the next several weeks fine tuning the budget and ensuring it will be well balanced and fair.

We have also begun the process of upgrading the filtration system to one of our most iconic features in Drumheller, the water fountain. Maintaining the functionality of this fountain is so important as it’s a hub for children of all ages to play and splash in on a hot summer day. It’s also such a beautiful way to welcome our many visitors each summer.

Speaking of upgrades, the Town of Drumheller and architectural consultants Stantec held an open house to hear from users of the Drumheller Aqupalex regarding modernization plans. The response was overwhelming and we thank everybody who brought us their ideas either in person or through our online survey. Research and planning continues on this project. It’s a big job modernizing a swimming facility, but we feel it will be worth it at the end.

Economic Development has also been busy. We have new members starting on the Economic Development Task Force (EDTF) with fresh and new ideas to push the community forward. The Storefront Improvement Grant will be available for merchants looking to improve their storefront and signage starting in the new year, and the EDTF is actively looking at a new seniors independent living complex. Recently, an open house was held to learn about potential interest in a project like this and the response was fantastic. We hope to have good news on this front in the New Year.

Looking ahead to December, I want to remind you about the Light up the Night Contest. We encourage you to either register yourself or nominate a friend to win incredible prizes including a dinner and movie night courtesy of O’Shea’s Restaurant and the Napier Theatre. We want to see this valley completely lit up with Christmas lights from one end to the other! New this year is best commercial display and most festive community. Deadline to register or nominate is Dec 11th at 4:30 and judging will take place from Dec 14th to 18th. Please talk to our FCSS coordinator, Eric Neuman, to register at 403-823-1315 or email Winners will be announced Dec 19th at the Badlands Community Facility during a special Christmas festivities day, also organized by FCSS.

In closing, have a very Merry Christmas from my family to yours and I hope you have a happy New Year!

Mayor Terry Yemen.

By: Mayor Terry Yemen

October has come and gone and we’re now officially into November already. I was reflecting on all the projects we worked on over the summer, and our public works department should be commended for their cooperation and hard work. The town worked and partnered on many projects such as the beautification of the Highway 9 north and south entrances, new banners, the new waterslide, Hillsview Phase II subdivision, Telus, downtown water line replacement, and so much more! As I look ahead to this winter and spring we’ll be eager to start work on the Aquaplex modernization, downtown signage, and filtration system work on one of our icons, the Drumheller spray fountain.

As a member of the Economic Development Task Force I’m excited to announce the development of a new storefront improvement grant. This is a 50% matching grant up to $5000.00 to help business owners across our great town with upgrades to their storefront. Application forms will be available on our website and at the Town Hall front desk starting January 1st, 2016. In addition to the grant, the Task Force is actively researching membership and benefits with the Central Alberta Economic Partnership which will allow us to work cooperatively with other municipalities and build valuable economic development connections.

In closing, I’d like to remind everybody to take time to remember the fallen men and women who fought bravely for Canada in wars and in peace keeping missions around the world. I recently had the privilege of working in Ukraine during their civic elections and I realized how great we have it in Canada. Please attend a Remembrance Day service in your community and lets never forget our brave men and women in uniform.