The Alberta government approved the town of Beaumont’s annexation of 21 quarter sections of Leduc County land north of its boundary Tuesday and a day later, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson expressed bewilderment at the decision.
The City of Edmonton had been eyeing the same land and according to Iveson, Alberta’s capital and Beaumont had “dueling cases for that” while also conceding “their process was further along than ours and so they’ve been given that land.”
“I’m not convinced it’s going to be cost effective,” Iveson said. “I’m not convinced it sends the right signal around growth management, agricultural land preservation, higher density targets, so I’m confused. I’m going to have to speak to the minister about their rationale for this.
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“I’m really puzzled by the government’s decision to move ahead with this.”
The Order in Council, signed by Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee, allows for a 50-year property tax protection period, meaning properties in the annexed area will be assessed and taxed at either the town or county tax rate, depending on which is lower.
“We did our work, we did our due diligence and we’re happy to hear the results today,” Beaumont Mayor Camille Berube said Wednesday. “We know what our future borders and boundaries are going to look like, we have the ability to plan infrastructure.”
Berube said that ability to plan infrastructure is crucial as the community’s population continues to grow at a rapid pace.
“It’s a very desirable community and I don’t anticipate that changing,” he said.
“Even with the economy, we’re still seeing good development.”
On Wednesday, Iveson said he was also dumbfounded by the move because Leduc County had expressed concern over burgeoning residential development south of Beaumont, and worried it could impact the trucking industry’s ability to haul loads in and out of Nisku.
“It seems a little bit out of step with the direction the region’s been going in terms of compact, contiguous, infrastructure efficient, lower footprint growth,” he said. “This will have implications for our ongoing annexation discussions with Leduc County.”
The mayor of Leduc County expressed disappointment with how the annexation was handled in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.
“While this annexation has minimal growth and financial implications to Leduc County, we are disappointed in the outcome,” John Whaley said. “We believe greater emphasis should have been placed on municipal collaboration and the principles of annexation.”
“I’m not convinced it sends the right signal around growth management, agricultural land preservation, higher density targets, so I’m confused,” Iveson added. “I’m going to have to speak to the minister about their rationale for this.”
Minister Larivee told 630 CHED she was still hoping the City of Edmonton, Leduc County and Beaumont would continue to work collaboratively on planning issues.
“There’s certainly nothing stopping Edmonton from working with Leduc County and Beaumont on the best way to go forward to look at more sub-regional planning.”
“Essentially it’s a done deal,” Whaley told Global News.
“There’s nothing there to say we have to work together for the good of all in this region. That’s the sad part about it.”
While Larivee signed off on the annexation, the decision was made by the Municipal Government Board, a panel Larivee described as non-political.
The annexation takes effect on Jan. 1.
“There is no rules, basically,” Whaley said. “That’s what it comes down to. You can ask for the Earth and obviously the government is going to give it to you and it has no bearing on the growth densities of the Capital Region Board … very sad.”
Edmonton is still seeking to annex another parcel of Leduc County land west of Nisku. It encompasses nearly 30,000 acres, including the Edmonton International Airport. According to Leduc County’s website, negotiations between the city and the county are ongoing, with the next talks scheduled to take place Nov. 24 and 25.
-with files from Sarah Kraus and 630 CHED’s Scott Johnston.