Municipal Affairs minister Danielle Larivee has signed off on a major annexation package involving Beaumont and Leduc County. And it’s got Mayor Don Iveson scratching his head over the size of it. Involved is 21 quarter sections including nine north of the town in and around 50th street. That’s land Edmonton wanted too.
Iveson can’t get over the size of what will be transferred. “Ball park, that’s like 100 years worth of land which seems like a very odd decision to me,” he told reporters.
The land transfer is more than double the current size of Beaumont, which covers 16 quarter sections.
What Beaumont got in the overlap described by Iveson is land about a mile wide north of the current town boundary. Edmonton wanted to extend its boundary all the way south from the city limits to the north edge of Beaumont.
“So we sort of had dueling cases for that, although their process was further along than ours and so they’ve been given that land,” Iveson said. “That really fragments what ultimately is the drainage basin, and it creates a lot of additional cost.”
The decision was made by a panel that Larivee described as non-partisan and non-political that looks at annexation questions on a technical basis, the Municipal Government Board. “At the end the MGB decided that the best case was made by Beaumont,” Larivee said in a comment distributed through her office.
“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.”
“I know Leduc County had real concerns about residential growth, south of Beaumont. It would really threaten as a high load corridor for moving heaving and high modular loads in and out of Nisku (along highway 625) so it’s one of the things I’ll be looking into, because the viability of Nisku is critically important to Leduc County and our whole region.”
“I’m really puzzled by the government’s decision to move ahead with this.”
Larivee said the door is still open for the three bodies to work together on planning. “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.”
The board studied, in detail, the Capital Region growth plan and found the annexation to be consistent with that plan, said a briefing note relayed from the minister’s office. Over all, the board ruled that the 50 year time horizon was justified, that new and infill densities comply with capital region growth plan targets, the amount of land was reasonable and all other factors were reasonable.
“Mayor Iveson is definitely entitled to his opinion there,” remarked Beaumont Mayor Camille Bérubé. “We did our due diligence. We had consultants work with us looking at the careful planning of what would be required for the Town of Beaumont going forward and the numbers came in at the 21 quarters. That’s what we asked for, that’s what we received.”
Bérubé says Beaumont basically gets to expand north, and Edmonton will, perhaps, get to expand south.
“In the dialog that we had with the City of Edmonton, way back, we had looked at what the opportunities would be. Based on our study, based on the services that were required, et cetera, we decided that we wanted to expand north, west and south. And based on the 21 quarters that had been identified as our need it brings us towards the City of Edmonton. And the City of Edmonton, if they’re successful with their ask to Leduc County — because the land is Leduc County’s, not the Town of Beaumont’s — they can come partway south of their present city borders.”
Bérubé says Beaumont’s land annexation becomes effective Jan. 1, 2017, and they’re working on a transportation master plan and a municipal development plan to include the annexed area. He adds any new construction of roads and infrastructure in the annexed area will begin and evolve with development in the region.
“While this annexation has minimal growth and financial implications to Leduc County, we are disappointed in the outcome,” explained Leduc County Mayor John Whaley. “We believe greater emphasis should have been placed on municipal collaboration and the principles of annexation.”
Whaley says the Order in Council provides a 50-year property tax protection period, which means properties will continue to be assessed and taxed at either the town or county tax rate — whichever is lower. This will change if the property owner proceeds with subdivision or landowner-initiated redistricting.