WHEREAS section 684(1) of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) states that the development authority must make a decision on the application for a development permit within 40 days after the receipt by the applicant of an acknowledgement of their application being deemed complete; and
WHEREAS section 6 of the Subdivision and Development Regulation AR 43/2002 (the Regulation) requires a subdivision authority to make a decision on an application for subdivision within 21 days of the date of the application being deemed complete if no referrals were made and within 60 days from the date of an application under section 4(1) of the Regulation being deemed complete in accordance with section 653.1 of the MGA; and
WHEREAS section 10(1) of the Regulation requires that the subdivision or development authority provide a copy of the application for a development that results in a permanent dwelling, public facility or unrestricted country residential development, as defined by the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER), to the AER if any of the land pertaining to the application is located within 1.5 kilometres of a sour gas facility, or a lesser distance agreed to, in writing, by the AER and the subdivision or development authority; and
WHEREAS the AER states that they will provide a response to setback referrals within 30 days of receiving a referral from a subdivision or development authority; and
WHEREAS the AER’s 30-day timeline acts as an approximate deadline and is often not met; and
WHERAS late responses from the AER prevent municipalities from meeting their legislated timelines without requesting extensions from applicants, thereby obstructing an orderly development process;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta request that the Government of Alberta review the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) timelines for responding to setback referrals for development near sour gas facilities, particularly in Crown land areas, to ensure they consistently respond to applicants within their own 30-day response commitment.
Municipalities are legislatively required to meet certain deadlines for approving or denying applications for development and subdivisions. Municipalities are also required to send referrals to the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) of any development within 1.5 kilometres of sour gas facilities. In order to meet the legislated timelines, municipalities require timely responses on referrals from the AER.
The AER’s approximate 30-day timeline for responses to referrals creates delays in the development process for municipalities and applicants, as the AER consistently provides responses after this deadline. As a result, municipalities are forced to request extensions from the applicants for developments near sour gas facilities in order to meet the legislated requirements.
In order to facilitate orderly development, the AER must review its timelines and ensure that they are providing responses to referrals within 30 days as indicated in the automated response upon their receipt of a referred application. The present delays cause significant frustration to municipalities and the applicants, which in the Crown land areas where these generally apply, is the industrial drivers of our local and provincial economy.
RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.
Alberta Energy Regulator
The Government of Alberta response refers to the AER Bulletin 2013-03 to clarify setback requirements from sour gas facilities. RMA appreciates AER’s commitment to public safety through the setback requirements, by establishing a minimum distance between and residential and commercial developments that are near sour gas facilities and pipelines. However, the resolution requests that the Government of Alberta and AER review their process in responding to setback requirements to ensure that they are meeting the 30-day timeline. The resolution indicates that late responses from the AER have prevented municipalities from meeting their legislated timelines without requesting extensions from applicants. RMA is pleased to hear that there has been communication between the MD of Greenview and the AER and Alberta Environment and Parks on this issue. However, as the AER does not plan to review their current processes or 30-day guidelines, this resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met.