It’s been four months since the town of White City first announced a proposal to form a single city with neighbouring Emerald Park, Park Meadows Estates, Meadow Ridge Estates, Escott/Deneve, and Great Plains Industrial Park.
“It is, for all intents and purposes, one community now,” White City Town Manager Ken Kolb said. “The growth that’s occurring in the area is going to be extensive.”
The proposal, as it stands, would see White City triple in physical size, growing from a population of roughly 3500 to more than 6000.
The vast majority of businesses in the area are also in the boundaries of Emerald Park.
“If you look at all the communities from Balgonie to Pilot Butte to White City, we’re the conduit in between that,”RM of Edenwold Reeve Mitch Huber said. “This whole area is one of the highest economic growth areas of the province.”
Formal negotiations between White City and the RM of Edenwold, which governs Emerald Park and the surrounding area, have yet to take place, and even early discussions have stilted.
As the two groups hold separate public consultations, the RM is still against the idea.
“The concern is cost, the value for your dollar,” Huber added. “With amalgamation, is your service going to change? I don’t believe it is. There’s some promises being made, but that’s a concern we really need to understand the answer to.”
The initial proposal was spurred by a White City growth study that projected a massive influx of new residents over the next 25 years.
Town Councillor Hal Zorn says annexation is critical to the town’s future.
“If we’re going to have a population of over 20,000, we have to make sure we have a good structure, good residential base, good industrial base to support that growth structure,” Zorn said.
The RM says it’s still willing to work with White City to encourage future development- as separate entities.
Town officials hope to wrap negotiations with the RM by the end of this year.
At that point, they’ll decide whether or not to file an official application for annexation with the Saskatchewan Municipal Board.
White City has annexed numerous chunks of land from the RM over the years, and the process has never been a quick one. A 400-acre annexation in 2015 took 18 months to finalize.
While the RM remains leery in the early stages, the town says it’s confident a deal can be worked out if both parties are at the table.