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Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Creekside Village Condos responds to Town decision on roads and infrastructure

Creekside Village Condos Board of Directors - response to Town Council Decision

The Board of Directors, on behalf of the Owners of Creekside Village Condos, issues the following response re: The Town of Pincher Creek denial to assume responsibility for the roads and infrastructure at Creekside Village Condos.

The Owners and Electors are very disappointed in the decision of Town Council. The Town Council, over the past year has stated various reasons why they were concerned about assuming responsibility for the roads and infrastructure but always left us with the impression they were open to our request and prepared to make a decision on concrete information and data. Operating in Good Faith we did a detailed study and responded to those concerns as well as providing documentation to support our findings. We believed our Town Council was truly interested and attempting to address our request. This was reinforced on a number of occasions both by the comments and questions from Council members as well as the written communication received. 

Recently, an email from the Town CAO to our Board Secretary stated: “In the meantime we are awaiting additional information from Mike Burla, sr. planner”; indicating to us the Town was open to our request and waiting for further information before they made a decision. It is now evident that this was not the case since the decision of Town Council does not appear to have any relationship with any concrete data, evidence or information received. It was simply based on the reason, which was our concern from the beginning, that Creekside Village Condos was private property with the additional statement that we are no different than a mobile home park. There was nothing that prevented Town Council from approving our request and providing us equal treatment with other residential property owners.

The following comments are presented in rebuttal to some of the statements contained in the background information in the “Request for Decision” document presented to Council 09.26.16.

Taxes:

Taxes were not a major issue in our presentation and are only indirectly related to our request, they were used to provide evidence that Creekside Village Owners pay more than their fair share of taxes as well as the fact there has been dramatic increases in the taxes Senior Owners at Creekside Condos have been required to pay. We take exception to some of the statements made in the background information to support the denial and do not agree with some of the statements made. However, to comment would get into the he said, she said, we said, they said arguments that are useless and lead nowhere. Rather some facts:

Fact 1: In 2014 the Assessor met with our Owners and advised that our taxes for 2014 would be increased a fair amount in order to bring the assessments up to market value. That year our Assessed value increased by $580,670.00.

Fact 2: In 2015, the Assessor advised us that the taxes for the common property had to be transferred to individual owners since the payment by the Corporation was illegal; no mention was made of additional increases. This occurred in 2015 and, in addition, the Assessed value also increased an additional $353,440.00

Fact 3: From 2013 – 2015 the total assessed value of Creekside Village Condos increased a total of nearly one million dollars ($934,110.00 or 20.13%) by far the largest increase in the Town of Pincher Creek both on a dollar and a percentage basis.

Fact 4: A Condo Unit with an Assessment of $270,000.00 was sold within the past couple of months for $250,000.00.

Fact 5: Taxable Properties: Creekside Village Condos has the highest taxable assessed value among residential properties and the third highest assessed valuation in Pincher Creek. Out of the 19 highest assessed properties, it is the only one that is residential as well as a non-profit organization and in addition is a Senior Complex.

Fact 6: Creekside Village Condos has the highest taxable land assessment valuation in the Town of Pincher Creek.

Fact 7: Creekside Village Condos pays more than a fair share of Town expenses and, over the past few years, has been hit with the highest tax increases.

Fact 8: The Town of Pincher Creek has the highest property tax assessment per person $1,133 for comparable Towns in Southern Alberta (140% above the average of $808).

Fact 9: Creekside Village Condos assessment is $1,601 per person (double the southern Alberta average of $808 per person and 141% above the Town average of $1,133 per person).

Fact 10: The Town of Pincher Creek continues to deny us the same benefits as other residential owners by refusing to take responsibility and ownership for the roads, lane and infrastructure. The decision to deny was made even though there were no impediments that prevented this occurring, we are one of their higher sources of property tax revenue (highest among residential properties) and also do not have access to the Grants the Town receives to assist them with infrastructure projects and other capital items.

Town statement that the situation was no different than a mobile home park:

That is sort of like saying Crestview Lodge is no different than a Motel. However, the statement did serve as a reminder that included in the 19 highest assessed properties in Pincher Creek were three Trailer Parks. In 2015 Spruce Grove Trailer Court with 45 Units was assessed at $1,771,730.00, Foothills Mobile Park was assessed $1,322,700.00 and the Trailer Park at 892 Elizabeth Street was assessed $1,083,450.00 for a total assessment of $4,177,880.00 whereas Creekside Village Condos with 21 Units was assessed $5,727,950.00 which is $1,550,070.00 more than the combined total of all the three trailer parks.

In the case of the trailer parks you have “for profit” owners or corporations who require roads in order to allow access to the property in order to rent their stalls and make money. In the other you have Seniors who purchased Town homes, pay the same tax rate as other residential owners, expect and should be entitled to the same services as other residential owners and who belong to a non-profit organization. Very clearly they are not the same. There is a dramatic difference.

Town statement that Creekside Seniors save $11,000 per year on Utilities:

We have not seen the data and there is no need to review. We have no reason to question this amount since it is not pertinent to our Owners request. They are two totally separate, unrelated and completely different issues and to comingle them and suggest they are one and the same is a false comparison suggesting that someone is “grasping at straws”. If Creekside Village Owners are not receiving preferential treatment it is a non-issue; if we are then the problem should be rectified. We do not believe any Owner would object to the Town installing water meters and any other items required for each individual unit as well as the Common area. We have continuously stipulated all we request is equality, fairness and justice and that equally applies to others. If, as Seniors, we are receiving preferential treatment and underpaying for our Utilities that is UNFAIR to other property Owners and the Town should take immediate steps to remedy so that this does not occur. FAIR IS FAIR-EQUAL TREATMENT FOR ALL!

Town statement that the roads should have been the Town’s responsibility from the time the development began is not correct and they do not have engineering reports:

The request for the Town to assume responsibility is not new. The Developer has advised us, that at the time of construction of the Town Homes, he tried very hard to get the Town to assume responsibility for the roads; essentially for the same reasons as our request. The Developer was also refused. At that time the Town would have been made aware of the engineering specifications of the roads or certainly would have had been granted access to the specifications. In fact, it would not be surprising if they had been provided and are somewhere in the Town archives.

Town Clarification that they had previously met with our representatives and/or residents on two previous occasions and agreed to meet again when requested in the public domain, rather than a private meeting with the condo.

First part is correct however, there was no comment or discussion that a private meeting was off the table. As per the motion of our Owners and as electors we requested an informal meeting and discussion with our elected officials and all were emailed a copy of our request. As had occurred previously, when we requested our Mayor meet with us, the request was once again refused, making it very clear that our elected representatives are not interested in meeting informally or casually with their electors; at least not those at Creekside Village Condos.

Town letter of September 28th re: Disposition of Delegation that states: “In the interest of all Town ratepayers, changing this structure would set a precedent with other similar organizations.”

Not too sure what is meant by similar organizations. If the situation and conditions were the same, why would Council want to deny? The meaning of “to set a precedent” is to set a policy or standard that must be followed in future cases. Since the Town operates under the Municipal Act of Alberta and other Alberta laws the statement from Town Council appears to be ether a misused, misunderstood or misinterpreted use of the phrase “to set a precedent”. Section 62 of the Municipal Act and Section 49 of the Condo Act of Alberta provide for the purchase or transfer of roads to municipalities. Mr. Dwain MacNeill, Supervisor, Alberta Land Titles, Calgary has advised us that our request is not that unusual and that transactions of this nature have occurred previously in the Province. The decision to purchase the Roads would not be setting a precedent. It is an agreement between two parties. The present Council and any Council in the future have the right to enter into such an agreement(s), as we requested, since they are permitted to do so under the Laws of Alberta. This right remains regardless of the present decision of Council or the decisions of any future Council. There is NO precedent setting situation that occurs.

Summary:

It is our opinion, the Town Council, for over a year has provided various reasons and excuses, for delaying and not approving Creekside Village Condos request for the Town to assume ownership and responsibility for the roads, lane and infrastructure. Responses for all the reasons given by the Town; width of roads, condition of roads, accessibility, approval by land titles, fee simple vs strata title etc. were provided. Data was provided in support of as well as the logic for our request. There has been no response from the Town rejecting or questioning any of the provided data. In fact, at the last Council meeting in addition to the recommended resolution to deny that was passed, there was an Alternative resolution presented: “That Council agree to assume ownership of the roads, laneway, and infrastructure, associated and within the property known as 500 Adelaide Crescent and direct administration to research the appropriate method to proceed”. This motion, if passed, would have met the request of the Owners of Creekside Village Condos and clearly indicates that there were no reasons that prevented the Town assuming control. Since the recommended motion by Administration to deny was passed one can assume that the Alternative motion was not discussed at the meeting or was given scant consideration. Once more indicating the probability that the past year has been a fruitless one in attempting to be treated fairly since the decision had already been pre-ordained. Council was not looking for data and facts but rather looking for excuses and reasons not to approve.

The Town Council, in the motion they approved, include the phrase “in fairness to all of the Pincher Creek ratepayers”. This statement clearly indicates that, in Council’s opinion, our request would be unfair and by association unjust. We totally disagree! The Taxpayers and electors of Creekside Village Condos have the highest assessment of all residential properties, the highest land assessment in Pincher Creek and the third highest assessment overall, as well as being assessed, on average, $1601.00 per year per person vs the town average of $1133.00. Therefore, it is WRONG to state that assuming the roads, lanes and infrastructure would be unfair to other Pincher Creek ratepayers especially when the Town’s own tax assessments clearly indicate that Creekside Village Condo Owners are paying far more than their fair share of the Town’s expenses. Other residential property owners and ratepayers are provided the same services we requested, even though most of them pay lower taxes, and our request was simply to be granted equal treatment. Presently our taxes are used to support other ratepayers without us receiving the benefits that we pay for on their behalf. We are confident that the ratepayers of Pincher Creek would agree this is unfair and be supportive of our request based on the principles of equality, justice and fairness. We would be absolutely amazed if they agreed with the Town’s decision! The evidence is very clear. The Members of the Town Council of Pincher Creek are not treating us with fairness, justice and equality. In fact, the tone of the comments and reasons provided in the background information, in the “Request for Decision” document, indicate an illogical and unsubstantiated attempt to defend a decision that cannot be defended by facts, evidence, logic or fairness.

We believe it is obvious to all that WE ARE NOT RECEIVING A “FAIR SHAKE”!

Submitted by the Board of Directors on behalf of the Owners and Electors of Creekside Village Condos.

Dr. Tom Halbert
President

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