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Pilot Project in 2020 and 2021

Background

Historically, infill developers have provided all of the water infrastructure required to serve a new development or upgrade an existing area. The proposed cost share approach recognizes that some upgrades that improve fire protection in established areas benefit the entire neighbourhood. The agreement will provide a methodology to share costs between infill developers, ratepayers, and the City's Fire Rescue Services department.

Infill cost share approach

Over the past year, we participated in workshops with the City of Edmonton and the Infill Development in Edmonton Association (IDEA) to discuss options for a cost share approach.

Based on feedback from the workshops, the Infill Working Committee formed by the City, EPCOR, and IDEA worked together to develop an approach that would:

  • Be fair, easy to understand, transparent, and predictable
  • Provide incentives for targeted infill development in older neighbourhoods
  • Be relatively easy to administer
  • Recognize that limited public funding is available

With the proposed cost share approach, developers would continue to pay for upgrades and installations that would primarily benefit a new development, including:

  • Extensions – the provisioning of a net-new water main as well as additional hydrants to bring water servicing and fire protection to an area that did not previously have water service
  • Relocations – moving existing water infrastructure to meet a developer's site-specific needs
  • Service installations – new service lines to new infill properties

For developments selected for inclusion in the cost share pilot project, upgrades that benefit all users will be funded by water ratepayers and Edmonton Fire Rescue Services, including:

  • Expansions – replacing an existing water main with a larger one, or adding hydrants to improve fire protection in an area
  • Realignments – moving of water mains and hydrants from an alley to a road

This cost share approach will allow some projects to proceed that otherwise may have been deemed unviable by the infill developer. The approach was presented to City Council's Urban Planning Committee on June 25, 2019.

Pilot project in 2020 and 2021

We believe the cost share approach meets the goals outlined above, and we look forward to conducting a pilot project in 2020 and 2021. We encourage infill developers to contact us early in their process to determine if their project fits within this cost share initiative by emailing project details to WaterInfillCostShare@epcor.com.

Note that we were able to allocate funds from existing infrastructure renewal programs ($1.2M for each of the pilot program years) to accommodate this pilot project. As such, there will be no water rate increases during the 2020-2021 pilot project period. Beyond 2021, additional funding for this infill cost share program will be determined as part of the City of Edmonton's regulatory process to establish new EPCOR water rates.

Eligibility

Only applicants / developers who have received responses for zoning applications, pre-application submissions, or development permit applications from the City of Edmonton are eligible to apply for funding consideration by the Infill Cost Share project. These applications must have obtained advisements or conditions of approval (that entail the construction of a public water distribution system, which involves water mains and associated appurtenances) from the City of Edmonton.

Infill project ranking criteria

To determine which projects will receive this public funding, developers must submit their applications to us at WaterInfillCostShare@epcor.com. We will then rank these submissions based on the following six criteria. Projects with the highest ranking will receive public funding to cover the cost of Expansions and Realignments until funding for the acceptance period is fully allocated. Infill developers would then be required to pay all remaining fire protection costs and upgrades:

1. System capabilities

This is defined as the current capability of the system to provide the required fire flows into the area in which the proposed development will be located. An estimated system capability can be found in the EPCOR Hexagon Map available as part of the City of Edmonton's Open Data portal. These system capabilities do not necessarily reflect that there is sufficient fire flow adjacent to the specific proposed development. To assist in determining what the fire flow requirements are for the specific development, a preliminary evaluation of the development site information provided by the applicant must be performed by EPCOR against the fire flow requirements specified in Volume 4 (Water) of the City of Edmonton Design and Construction Standards. An updated evaluation and ranking will be completed by Edmonton Fire Rescue Services once site-specific design and/or FUS information is made available by the applicant. The updated evaluation will be coordinated by the City of Edmonton Planner or Development Officer, as appropriate.

2. Neighbourhood renewals and Arterial Program

This is defined as the coordination with proposed, ongoing, or completed renewal activities and coordination with the Arterial Program, which will allow for optimized capital spending and reduced resident disruption. To ensure coordination between infill development and neighbourhood renewals, EPCOR and the City of Edmonton will facilitate meetings with IDEA to align planning efforts.

3. Location and use

The projects selected for consideration are to comply with the current City Plan. The proposed program will only consider funding for residential and mixed use developments with three or more units in established mature and downtown neighbourhoods (as defined within Map 3 of Bylaw 15100). The location and use criteria will ensure that developments that meet the definition of "missing middle" are ranked higher. "Missing middle" housing forms include triplex homes, four-plexes, row-houses, stacked row-houses, low rise (four stories or less), and mid rise (up to six stories) apartment buildings. The missing middle is targeted for funding because it aligns with the City vision for infill development and recognizes that there has been limited mid-sized residential development in established, mature, and downtown neighbourhoods. High rise apartments will be considered for funding but are not given priority.

4. Transit network

This is defined as the distance of the development to current and future public transit (LRT, major bus service nodes and corridors, transit centres, etc.) Proposed developments that are 200m away from major transit facilities are ranked highest, with points given for 400m and 800m proximity. Development not in proximity to a major transit facility will not be considered.

5. Readiness

This refers to how far along the project is in the development process. For example, a project that is in the development permit phase is further along than a project that still requires rezoning. Construction of the development should not proceed without sufficient fire protection in accordance with both the National Fire Code and Volume 4 of the City of Edmonton Design and Construction Standards. Developments that have progressed beyond the Development Permit stage will not be considered.

6. Coordination

This refers to the extent to which the project is aligned with other projects on the same street so that efficiencies in project coordination can be realized. We will evaluate and score the level of coordination of each project based on other known projects in the area.

The points awarded in each category will be used to derive a total score for the Project's ranking. Due to the number of factors in a project, and the granularity of the evaluation system, it is conceivable that projects may have identical total scores. In this case, prioritization will be given to the project(s) that have the best project coordination where the highest number of proposed developments benefit from the project. If a tie still exists, the project with the lowest required funding will be selected. The final selection criteria will be based on which project had the earliest application date for consideration.

Projects that do not receive funding in the first year of their application may be eligible for funding in the subsequent year. If the timelines or surety of the cost share program do not meet the developer's needs, they have the option of contracting EPCOR to complete the works at the developer's sole expense.

Alternatively, developers may complete the works themselves at their sole expense under a servicing agreement as long as the risks posed to public health and the integrity of the water distribution and transmission system by the required works are deemed acceptable by EPCOR. Another option is for the applicant to hire EPCOR at a full cost-of-service to complete the construction on their behalf under the New Water Distributions Mains program.

Program execution

How to apply

Eligible applicants are able to apply for the Infill Cost share pilot project using the application forms below. The completed application form is to be e-mailed to WaterInfillCostShare@epcor.com.

Application process

The information provided on the form will be reviewed by EPCOR and the associated scores assigned for each of the criterion. Applicants will be informed of their project's total score based on current information. If the status of the project changes, the applicant will need to provide updated information to EPCOR to update the project's evaluation.

For the 2020 project year, projects will be selected in early 2020 for construction. The closing date for application will be January 17, 2020. Any projects that are not selected in this period will be automatically rolled over for consideration in the 2021 project year.

For the 2021 project year, there will be two acceptance periods, allotting half the available funding in each period. The first acceptance period's cutoff date will be April 30, 2020. Any projects that are not selected in this acceptance period will automatically roll over to the second acceptance period. This period will be closed on October 31, 2020.

We encourage eligible applicants to contact us at WaterInfillCostShare@epcor.com as soon as possible to obtain details on next steps and processing timelines.

Program evaluation

The pilot project will be monitored by the EPCOR/IDEA/City of Edmonton Infill Working Committee with annual check-ins to refine criteria, monitor selected developments, and resolve issues. Data will be collected for the duration of the pilot project and the results of the pilot project will be documented and returned to City Council's Urban Planning Committee in 2021, or sooner if required. Additional funding for the cost-share program will be requested through the Performance Based Regulation renewal process in 2021 based on the results of the pilot project.

Application forms