Rural residents, City discuss potential boundary extension

Mayor Lori Ackerman was among the city representatives at last night’s meeting. She says the city wants to expand its boundaries because there is currently no room to accommodate the requests of developers who want to add to the city.

“The reality is that we’ve had several developers come to us asking for land that could be serviced. That could be for light industrial, or commerce, or retail,” she says. “We’ve had quite a few retailers coming to us saying that they’d like to, but there is no serviceable land right now because there is nothing in the city that is big enough for what they want to do. This is something that has been requested of us, so when it’s requested, we move forward with it.”

Among the concerns for some affected property owner is the belief that there is no benefit from the proposal to them. Area C Director Arthur Hadland says he’s heard concerns about taxes and water and sewer.

“Taxes, everybody’s concerned about taxes. The fact that even though there’ll be an expansion, there’s no guarantee that they’ll get water and sewer unless they pay for it themselves,” says Hadland. “I think the real thing I get out of the people is trust. They are a little sceptical about the process. I like to trust, I like to cooperate, but that’s a concern I hear.”

The city currently does not provide water and sewer services to those outside of the city, with the exception of the airport. Ackerman adds that properties that come into the city boundaries would then have access to water and sewer services through the City’s lagoons and cheaper bulk water rates.  She also acknowledges that in some cases, there may be more negatives than positives to the proposal for some property owners.

“That depends on the person, and what kind of land they own. If they are a single, residential lot, and they have no way of subdividing that lot, then absolutely there is a con, because they aren’t going to benefit from anything,” she admits. “If it is someone that owns a piece of property that can be subdivided, and turned into more of a higher density residential, or perhaps light industrial, then there is a higher value to the land.”

Hadland adds that it’s possible to try and contact all of the people within the proposed expansion in order to get an assessment on the land, and that there needs to be a majority of the expansion to take effect.

“There is an option for a deferred motion at the regional board that we contact all of the impacted people and get an assessment, because under the boundary expansion, there is a requirement for a majority, 50 per cent plus one. Ordinarily, these processes would emanate from the people themselves, but this is being internally generated,” he states. “I really am concerned; the power of expropriation bothers me and the city is a corporation that has that power, and unless they can provide surety and certainty that interests won’t be abused, then I’m sorry, I just don’t feel comfortable with what’s being proposed.

A decision of a proposal for Hadland to survey the affected owners was referred to the Peace River Regional District’s next meeting.

Meanwhile, Ackerman hopes residents will continue express their comments or concerns on the proposal, so the city can send an appropriate package to the provincial government regarding the proposal.

“This is about a two way conversation, so when people have concerns, they need to come to the city and express their concerns because we’re the ones who package up the information and send it to Victoria,” she says. “I recognize there are others who have surveys or whatever going down, the city has a process that has been approved. We realize there’s the pros, the cons, the good, the bad, and the ugly, so we need to send it all down in one package.”

The City is in the process of accepting all submissions, either in support, or against the proposal, and will next turn to compiling all of the information for the proposed boundary extension, and prepare it for Council’s review and deliberation.