Annexation is the process by which one municipality expands its jurisdictional boundaries into that of another. Typically annexations take place when an urban centre is experiencing much growth and needs to expand to allow for increased residential and commercial developments.
Given the City's massive growth, we are at the point where we need to expand our boundaries again. I see that there are two ways annexation could go in regards to the City annexing from the County.
1. The Tax Grab
The City could propose to the Municipal Government Board (MGB) that we take jurisdictional control over all of the developed areas surrounding the City.
This would significantly tip some scales. The City would immediately have a significant inflow of revenues from all the assessment that's located there. Tax rates would become more equalized. It would help with regional planning as we could have a coherent regional plan controlled by one player. Finally, it would give the City additional developable land to grow. A move like this would also put us on more of an even playing field.
This is a highly unlikely scenario though. The Province frowns upon tax grabs and would never approve a proposal like this in a million years. Even if there was the off chance of something like this being approved, I don't think that having the County develop lands to then be taken over by the City is a fair policy. I believe there are better solutions to share the region's wealth. We'll explore these later on.
2. Development Potential
The second annexation option is to annex land that is not developed but has development potential. This is the option the City has taken.
In 2010, the City and County agreed upon an Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP) that identified which areas the City would annex. Annexation negotiations then began in August 2012. A deal amenable to both parties could not be found so the City and County have sent separate proposals to the MGB for consideration. The MGB will meet in October to hear from both sides and then make a decision.
From the City's side, we're asking to annex the full 6,300 hectares that was outlined in the IDP. (see yellow area above). You can read our growth projections here to see how we justify this number. One of the determining factors in this calculation was the potential for industrial development. Currently, the County has 0.21 hectares of developable land for every person living in the County. The City currently has 0.01 hectares/person. Our proposal would bring that ratio up to 0.05 hectares/person, roughly one quarter of the County's.
The agreed upon annexation lands include the area where the new highway bypass will be going through. Having jurisdiction over lands surrounding the bypass will be beneficial to the City as there will likely be lots of development springing up there.
I have been in favour of this proposal from the get-go. I believe it solves the availability and location of land problems. While servicing the land is going to cost the City a little more in the short term, the long term pay-off will be crucial as we work to get more development in the City. Annexation is only a band-aid solution though. There would still remain many inequalities in the region. Thus, I believe other solutions are needed in addition.