Three Notorious Letters - LIP Emerge in Budget


They were the three letters which were the main issue during the 2016 Civic Election and at Wednesday’s Budget Committee deliberations they came up again but this time when it came to gravel roads and how to pave them.

The letters LIP or Local Area Improvement was part of a policy initiative brought forward by the Engineering Department to pave the 26 kilometers of gravel roads within the city. An LIP is where area residents pay for a set portion of a local improvement or upgrade where they enjoy a net benefit to their property.

During the 2016 election the term LIP came to symbolize the plan to force residents to pay for a share of replacing the cast iron water mains in front of their homes. But in actuality LIP can refer to a whole variety of infrastructure upgrades a municipality can seek homeowners to fund a share of.

Speaking to Budget Committee City Engineer Josh Mickleborough said an LIP was one of four recommendations for Budget Committee choose from regarding gravel roads.

“Best practice is pave it as the development occurs,” Mickleborough stated.

Council had been previously told for some gravel roads developers at the time they built did not want the expense of paying for pavement so the work was never done.

Using LIPs for paving gravel roads has been an issue for a number of years as Councillor Don Mitchell was a main initiator of having Petition In LIPs used for paving some gravel roads. Residents on some gravel roads had asked about the potential of having the roads in front of their homes paved. The issue was discussed in 2018 by Budget Committee.

SEE RELATED - LIPs Discussed in 2018 Budget Discussions

There are three types of LIPs - Non-Petitionable, Petition Out and Petition In.

A Non-Petitionable or Formal LIP was the subject of the 2016 Referendum where the City could apply annually and force residents to pay a set percentage of the replacement costs with no way of saying no.

A Petition Out LIP is where the City applies to have work done and then affected property owners have the ability to sign a petition to decline the work. To petition out a proposed work property owners who combined own over 50 percent of affected frontage must sign the petition.

A Petition In LIP is where property owners with more than 50 percent can sign a petition and ask the City to do infrastructure work. By Petitioning In a job residents agree to pay a set percentage of the infrastructure upgrade.

Under the Petition Out proposal presented to Budget Committee in 2019 the Engineering Department proposed an LIP which would see the City pay $268,952 and property owners pay $1,164,921 to pave a gravel roadway. The roadway selected is on Caribou Street.

The City’s share of the LIP would be approximately $3.7 million over the proposed five years to pave the gravel roads.

Asked by Councillor Chris Warren if the paving program had to be over five years, Mickleborough replied “we are able to structure the process how you want.”

“We can break it up into logical chunks. Obviously doing half a road is not preferred.”

Councillor Heather Eby saying she knew something about LIPs and the length of the process asked if it was optimistic to see work done in 2019?

Mickleborough said it would be determined by the willingness of the property owners affected and that they could be canvassed to see if they wanted the work done first.

“(It’s) petition out instead of a formal LIP and they could give us their willingness to pursue it,” he said.

City Manager Jim Puffalt said there was still time to complete the process to do work in 2019.

“If you start in January and February (applying to the Province to use an LIP) you are able to get an answer to it,” Puffalt said.

No decision was made regarding the use of LIPs to pave gravel roads but it will be decided later in Budget discussions. All measures approved during Budget Committee must receive formal approval at a public Council meeting.

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