The results of an annexation survey given to the City of Leduc residents was highlighted at council’s Sept. 28 meeting and city manager Paul Benedetto feels residents have a fairly strong grasp of the information being continually presented to them by the city.
“This report certainly speaks to a (consistency) with council’s strategic direction,” said Benedetto.
“In terms of the annexation, although it’s been going on for a number of months, I have to stress that this is still early in the annexation process,”
Although the news of the proposed annexation is ongoing and the City of Edmonton has provided a notice of intent Benedetto says it has not yet filed an official annexation request.
“I understand there is still discussions going on between the City of Edmonton and Leduc County,” said Benedetto.
Within the city, 2,705 resident households completed the survey. “And people took it really serious as well,” said Benedetto.
Over the last few years city council has adopted a series of key interests and values. “Key priorities or a set of annexation principals that council is using to guide our efforts and signal to the community those issues of importance,” Benedetto explained.
The guidelines partially focus on regional considerations. “On the regional issues the City of Leduc supports, like any other municipality, the City of Edmonton’s right to grow in manner that is supported by strong evidence that justifies land needs and reasonable population projections,” said Benedetto.
Finances also come into play and Benedetto says the city will be able to support annexation if those directly and indirectly affected are not impacted in a negative way.
“And the City of Leduc must also be able to achieve its long term growth objectives in a stable manner,” said Benedetto.
Within its guidelines council also identified four local priorities. “The first one speaks to the commitments, support and expedited instruction to the very important 65th Avenue interchange to support (Edmonton International) airport (EIA) growth,” said Benedetto.
The second focuses on future growth areas for the City of Leduc, including residential, industrial and airport growth.
Benedetto says the standing EIA tax sharing agreement must be honoured, “And any other agreements affecting our fiscal sustainability.”
The final priority, Benedetto says annexations are costly ventures and collaborative measures should be put in place by all municipalities involved.
When it came to survey results Benedetto feels residents understand the EIA lands are included in the annexation proposal. Over 95 per cent of respondents are aware of the potential impact.
“And the Edmonton International Airport tax sharing agreement between the City of Leduc and county is solely due to the annexation proposal,” said Benedetto.
Benedetto added 97 per cent indicated they are aware the City of Leduc would be impacted.
“There are potential impacts in the tax sharing agreement because of the annexation,” said Benedetto.
In 2010, when the agreement was renegotiated to replace the 1998 agreement, it was mandated it would be reviewed by 2017. “So there’s the other factor of the agreement review time frame with Leduc County,” said Benedetto.
Benedetto says 97.5 per cent are aware of the annexation principles. And 98 per cent are aware of the city’s four priorities.
In terms of impacts to the 65 Avenue interchange, 95.6 per cent are aware of potential impacts there.
Benedetto says the City of Leduc will need to work harder when it comes to relaying its position on if the annexation is reasonable for all affected municipalities. “There were 77 per cent saying that it certainly needed to be reasonable … and there were 15 per cent who were not sure and some others in between.”
Coun. David MacKenzie says the report reflects how important annexation issues are in the community.
“When you have communities like Leduc, Leduc County, they’re working together, co-operating, looking for ways to make things better, to build trust, to find common ground … and then on the other hand you have a contested annexation. Which is hostile, it’s offensive.”