The Leduc County Coalition hosted an information meeting on Tuesday, April 15th at the Richie Bros. auditorium and drew the largest participation to date as over 300 individuals took advantage of the Coalition’s gathering.
The evening featured three guest speakers and comments from the Leduc Regional Chamber of Commerce. Moderator Clarence Shields welcomed the audience and introduced the guest speakers. He then provided information regarding the role of the Leduc County Coalition and its stand regarding Edmonton’s Annexation request.
Mayor John Whaley presented the County of Leduc’s position and the willingness to sit down with Edmonton City to negotiate an agreement. Leduc City Mayor Greg Krischke spoke of the need for the County and Edmonton to begin discussions and to resolve this process in the interest of both governments. Edmonton City Councillor Mike Nickel hinted that the new city council contains many new, bright members and would not be surprised they would be prepared to take a less confrontational approach as the previous council took. The speaker portion of the evening ended with comments by Leduc Regional Chamber of Commerce President Alana Gueutal.
At this point members of the audience were encouraged to ask questions. Three major issues were raised. The first revolved around the potential loss of some of the best agricultural land in the province. Using Edmonton’s claim that 55% of their growth is to the south, landowners wondered why the annexation proposal is 100% to the south and on land graded #1 for agricultural purposes while land to the north and west is rated in the #4 to #6 range.
Individuals from the Beaumont area questioned Edmonton’s sincerity to comments made by the city of not wanting to hinder the growth of surrounding municipalities when Edmonton’s annexation bid north of Beaumont does, in fact, prohibit Beaumont’s natural growth to the north.
The third set of questions revolved around what landowners feel as a land grab by Edmonton. One emotional speaker compared Edmonton’s annexation proposal to the Ukraine’s lost of the Crimea where Russia came in and took what they wanted.
Another landowner questioned the wisdom of the city of shutting down the city airport then finding that the cost of developing the land for housing maybe prohibited. He also wondered, tongue in cheek, if the purpose of the annexation is for growth how many houses does the city plan to build on the International Airport runways?
The meeting concluded by stating this is going to be a long processes and it is up to each individual to express their feelings by attending the current series of open houses hosted by both the City of Edmonton and Leduc County.