In speaking with Beaumont Mayor Camille Berube on Thursday December 6th, he stated that he was "very disappointed" to hear "those kind of comments" from Leduc County who had called their annexation request a "hostile land grab".
Mayor Berube confirmed that a breakfast had been held between Leduc County's Manager Brian Bowles, Mayor John Whaley, Beaumont's CAO, and himself on November 28th, to "Advise them of the Resolution that (Beaumont) Council had passed to initiate discussions and work on the process to put in place the annexation request with the Town of Beaumont. As well as set up some initial timelines, as we need to be strategic and efficient in the process and that is what we were trying to do."
A joint growth project had been conducted between the County and Town of Beaumont beginning in 2009 with the municipalities receiving the final report in June of 2011. It acknowledged that the Town of Beaumont had identified the need for land in order to grow and diversify it's tax base. This study was accepted as information by Beaumont, and in the meantime the Town hired an engineering firm and consultants to continue with the study on a stand alone basis.
When asked if he felt this issue had damaged the relationship between the Town of Beaumont and Leduc County, Mayor Berube replied that "Well obviously it's caused some stresses and pressures but I believe that Beaumont and Leduc County will continue to work on this process and get to, hopefully, an acceptable process to discuss what the community's needs are. We're talking 50 years out, and so we will continue and have to work through this."
When asked why such a large annexation of land is being proposed all at once, Mayor Berube explained that 50 years was the recommended timeframe to look at by the consultants they had hired, as well as what has been approved by other jurisdictions in the Province. He stated that in 50 years' time the geographic layout of this region will be very different, and that is why Beaumont, as the second fastest growing municipality in Alberta, feels the need to be "strategic and proactive, and plan where the services, roads and communities are going to develop."
When questioned why there was no growth predicted on the east side of Town it was explained that the cost of building the infrastructure base to the east would be too great as the consultants had identified the major growth to continue along the main transportation corridors primarily to the north and west of the existing Town Limits. This is also where the existing services are already located within Beaumont so the cost of expanding the infrastructure would be much less moving in those directions.
The next step for Beaumont is to look toward scheduling a meeting with the County to discuss the future development of their annexation request and lay out some specific timelines, as the County identified that they were not in a position to commit to the timeline originally requested by Beaumont at the breakfast meeting on November 28th.
Mayor Berube stated that "The public needs to be aware that the Town of Beaumont is not 'blindsiding' anybody. We went through the process from 2009-2011, and from what I understood we were not satisfied with the recommendations there. The consultant was working with both communities and I think the consultant was trying to please all parties, so we received that report as information. So that, for me, was the kick start of where we need to go moving forward. We need to plan, we need to be strategic, and that is what we are trying to do."
Mayor Berube said that Beaumont is looking forward to continued dialogue with Leduc County, residents, and the public on the process and timelines, but for the Town it is "very critical" to proceed on a "time efficient basis".