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How to participate in the Enhanced Landscape Maintenance program

The Enhanced Landscape Maintenance (ELM) program is a community-led, volunteer initiative. Communities can petition for ELM or petition against it. Extra landscaping and maintenance on public lands (above and beyond standard City levels of service) is paid by the community.

Funding Models

There are two funding models for community landscape enhancements:

1. Caveat on Title

Home owners pay into a Residents’ or Homeowner’s Association fund through a caveat on their property title. Speak to your Residents’ or Homeowner’s Association representative in your community for further information.

2. ELM Special Tax Levy

The ELM special tax levy is funded through additional voluntary property taxes. 2/3 (66.7 per cent) of property owners in your neighborhood must agree to the additional taxes to fund the ELM program through a petition.

When an ELM is in place, the community becomes responsible for both the standard levels of service required (which is then funded through an operating grant to the community to cover the basic services) and the additional enhancements. Every community gets a standard municipal budget allocated to each area in the city to ensure basic levels of service in public spaces and green areas The ELM program is funded through an additional tax on residents tax assessment.

Operating grant

We will provide the ELM community an operating grant equal to the Council approved budget for maintenance activities within the defined green spaces. These funds are the equivalent to the activities that we would have used to perform the baseline services in the community prior to becoming an ELM community. Communities operating an ELM are funded through a special tax levy, as well as an operating grant from us.

Additional information:

  • All communities in Calgary are served to a standard level of maintenance. Our employees manage and do this work. However communities in the ELM program become responsible for landscape improvements and enhancements above the standard levels of service, and also for all the standard levels of service on parks, green spaces, and boulevards.
  • ELM communities are responsible for hiring and managing contractors to do both levels of service: Standard and ELM activities.
  • Improvements are funded by the special taxy levy, standard levels of maintenance are funded by an operating grant provided to the community by us, equal to the council approved budget for that community’s public green spaces’ maintenance.

Petition for ELM

  1. Call 311 or email us to request an ELM petition package.
  2. We will consult with the interested party on the ELM program, including how the petition process works.
  3. The interested party will return the completed petition along with the statement of witness and affidavit to us, signed in the presence of a Commissioner of Oaths.
  4. When we receive the completed petition, we count the votes and evaluate the petition on a pass/fail.
  5. If the petition supports the ELM program, a Notice of Intention is mailed out to each property owner- including the enhancements proposed and an estimated cost to each property owner.

Additional information

  • 66.7% of property owners in the community must sign and agree to the ELM program. Signing is voluntary.
  • If a single owner holds multiple properties in the community, only one vote for/against the petition will be considered by that owner.
  • We validate all signatures to ensure they are from property owners. A signature is invalid if it does not match the registered property owner’s name.
  • City of Calgary owned properties remain neutral in the petition process and do not appear on the petition form, nor do they have a vote.
  • Signatures are tallied towards a valid petition, based on counting backwards 120 days from the date we receive delivery of the completed petition.

Want more information on special improvements?

Successful petitions: what happens next

  • Verified successful petitions go to Council for review and approval. All citizens in the proposed ELM community can come and speak to the petitions - either for or against.
  • Property owners will receive a special tax notice on their annual Property Assessment letter: this is the tax levy for the ELM program.

Petition against ELM

Any resident of the community may formally oppose the ELM program petition. To launch a petition against an ELM program, a property owner in the proposed ELM community must request a petition against package by calling 311 or emailing us.

NOTE: The City must receive this petition 120 days after it is mailed to be considered valid.

Annual reassessment of special tax levy rate

Council annually reviews and approves the special tax levy bylaw, as authorized through the Municipal Government Act. This approval is required each year to continue the ELM tax levy. If Council votes against the notice of motion to pass the tax levy bylaw, then the community ceases to be an ELM program participant.

In the fall, we will notify each property owner in an ELM community about the proposed amount of tax levy to be collected and any resident may petition against the ELM tax levy.

Community reaffirmation vote

Every five years, communities are required to re-evaluate program participation by holding a public meeting. The community must vote to confirm ongoing support for the tax levy. A 50 per cent (plus one) simple majority vote of the property owners in attendance at the meeting will be required to continue with the levy.

  • Every five years a Special Tax Levy community must hold a reaffirmation vote in their ELM community,
  • The meeting must be adequately advertised within the community to inform as many property owners as possible of the impending vote,
  • Only property owners in the community can participate in the ELM community vote:
    • Communities would need to do their best to validate property ownership prior to voting
    • Request a driver’s license and current property tax assessment to verify ownership

Should at the public meeting, a vote 50 per cent (plus one) to no longer support and participate in the ELM program occurs, the current ELM program will continue until the second triggered petition process is submitted to the City and voted on by Council.

A vote 50 per cent (plus one), in favour of discontinuing the ELM program, this then triggers a second community petition process;

  • This process would then follow the Local Improvement Bylaw petitioning process;
  • During the second petition process, community members have an opportunity to request a new petition from the City, to canvases their community to solidify whether the community at 66.7% will not continue to maintain their enhanced landscape maintenance program;
    • Should this second community petition not reach 66.7% of votes against the tax levy, the tax levy will remain intact.