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How to participate in the Enhanced Landscape Maintenance Program

How to participate in the ELM program

The Enhanced Landscape Maintenance (ELM) program is a community-led, volunteer initiative. Any extra landscaping and maintenance on public lands (above and beyond standard City levels of service) is paid for by the community.

To participate in the program, you must be a non-profit organization representing your entire geographic neighbourhood, such as a Community Association, Residents Association or Homeowners Association.

Participation in the program requires entering into a legal agreement called a Landscape Maintenance Agreement (LMA).

When the LMA is in place, the participant becomes the steward for standard levels of service required. Each community will receive a standard municipal operating grant for their ELM program.

What is covered under the ELM program?

  • Mowing/trimming
  • Litter control
  • Curb sweeping/spring cleanup/fall cleanup
  • Shrub bed and tree well maintenance
  • Flower bed installation and maintenance
  • Watering/irrigation

What isn’t covered under ELM program?

  • Infrastructure enhancement or maintenance (e.g. community entrance signage, pathways, transit buildings/shelters, playgrounds)
  • Any private land enhancements – including tree planting (only public lands and assets may benefit from this funding)

The City of Calgary offers added services

We provide services beyond the standard service levels for the ELM program based on need and assessment. These services are provided at municipal standards, by our employees under our standing policies and procedures subject to under Federal, Provincial and Municipal agreements.

The services may include:

NOTE: additional snow removal/ice control of community pathways beyond standard service levels requires a separate maintenance agreement. Please contact 311.

How is the ELM program funded?

Calgary Parks will provide the community that has applied for the ELM program an operating grant equal to the Council approved budget for maintenance activities within the defined green spaces. These funds are the equivalent to the funds that the City would have used to perform the baseline services in the community prior to it becoming an ELM community.

Funding models

In addition to the operating grant, there are two community generated funding models to cover the full cost of the program:

  1. Private Funding (caveat on property title) - Funds are collected by way of a caveat on the property title of each parcel of land. These funds are then collected and managed by a local association.
  2. Special Tax Levy - If you are participating in the program through Special Tax Levy you can petition the entire neighbourhood for a special tax levy. This is an opt-in program for the entire neighbourhood and must be approved by Council. The City of Calgary collects and holds these funds on behalf of the community. Communities can petition for ELM or petition against it.

How to become an ELM community via special tax levy

How do I petition for ELM the program?

  1. Call 311 or email us to request an ELM petition package.
  2. 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.
  3. When we receive the completed petition, we count the votes and evaluate the petition on a pass/fail basis.
  4. 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 local improvements to neighbourhoods?

If my petition is successful, 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.

How do I 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 of 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 of 50 per cent (plus one) in favour of discontinuing the ELM program triggers a second community petition process known as 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.