Edmonton’s annexation proposal sees resistance

EDMONTON – A plan to annex land south of Edmonton is being met with resistance from Leduc County.

The Edmonton International Airport is a valuable piece of property, as is the land around it.

The City of Edmonton wants that land to become part of Edmonton proper, but Leduc County is worried.

“Our residents are saying, ‘no, we’re not ready for this, yet,’” said Leduc County Mayor John Whaley.

The annexation proposal could see the City of Edmonton take up large parcels of land on both sides of the QEII Highway. However, Leduc County is fighting back.

It’s created a radio ad telling residents about Edmonton’s plan.

“The City of Edmonton wants to annex land from Leduc County,” the ad says. “And whether you live in Leduc County or Edmonton, that has major implications for you.” (Listen to the full radio ad below).

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“A lot of the land the City is after is a lot of industrial tax base,” explained Whaley. “So, I hate to say it’s a tax grab, but it maybe could look like that.”

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson says he understands Leduc County has its own perspective on the issue.

“They appear resistant to the need for Edmonton to grow. But, the decision for this land to develop was actually made at the Capital Region Board table, with Leduc County’s participation. I’m sort of surprised that they’re now sort of seeking to revisit that.”

“If there’s going to be growth between the City’s current boundary and the airport… I think the City is in a very good position, actually, to manage that better than any other actor in the region, frankly,” said Iveson.

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The Leduc County website informs residents they will likely see an estimated ten per cent increase in taxes if the annexation goes ahead. Those living in the annexation area could see a potential increase of 62 per cent.

Edmonton’s mayor disputes the information, saying affected landowners will be grandfathered when it comes to taxation.

“It’s part of making sure that it’s a reasonable and smooth transition for landowners who experience annexation,” said Iveson. “So, taxes won’t automatically go up. That’s a bit misleading.”

During his time on council, Whaley has dealt with several annexations. The latest proposal is the first from Edmonton.

Whaley is calling for collaboration when it comes to dealing with growth.

“Maybe there’s another way for us all to work together,” he said.  “There’s always a compromise.There’s always a win for both sides here.”

The City announced its intentions earlier this year, but it’s expected to take several years before the issues are finally resolved and the proposal works its way through the system.

The two mayors have not met in person to discuss the issue. A meeting is expected to take place in the New Year.

With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News

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