Negotiated annexation alliance agreement
Strathcona County and the City of Fort Saskatchewan councils approved an agreement at their September 11 council meetings, supporting a negotiated annexation, and exploration of a more formal alliance.
Annexation is the process by which boundaries are changed to facilitate the transfer of lands from one municipality to an adjacent municipality. In this case, lands will transfer from Strathcona County to the City of Fort Saskatchewan. Properties within an annexation area experience a change in jurisdiction from one municipality to the other.
Strathcona County landowners, who own land annexed by Fort Saskatchewan, will transition from receiving services and paying taxes to Strathcona County to receiving services and paying taxes to Fort Saskatchewan. Annexation does not affect ownership rights.
2. Why has Strathcona County agreed to a negotiated annexation (in light of Boundary Accord)?Permanent link to Why has Strathcona County agreed to a negotiated annexation (in light of Boundary Accord)?
The Boundary Accord, signed by both Councils in 2001, dealt with long-term growth, based on projections at the time, and purported to put a moratorium on annexing land until 2031. The 2001 agreement between the two municipalities, however, is not binding on the provincial government, the decision maker in annexations.
In other words, the County or the Fort could choose to ignore it, and the provincial government authorities (the decision maker) would be completely free in dealing with matters.
When released in 2015, Strathcona County reviewed and clarified many of the assumptions presented in the city’s growth plan. Based on our review and ongoing discussions, we confirmed the city is facing growth pressures, and agreed to negotiate a mutually-satisfactory solution.
Our two municipalities have much in common. We have chosen to work together to support our industrial tax bases, keep taxes low for our residents, businesses and industries, and integrate services to enhance delivery. Annexations cost millions of dollars in legal and experts’ fees, and on average take over three years to resolve. By pursuing a mutually-agreeable annexation, both municipalities save time and money - contested annexations are both costly and time consuming, and in over 97 per cent of cases since 1995, have resulted in all or most of the land requested being awarded.
3. How does this agreement preserve agriculture land?Permanent link to How does this agreement preserve agriculture land?
By negotiating a smaller annexation area, we have successfully preserved more than half of the land originally requested, while addressing growth pressures. The agreement ensures Fort Saskatchewan has the land it needs to grow, when ready to do so, and provides 952 hectares (less than 50 per cent of the original ask of almost 2,000 hectares).
Looking after citizens and minimizing the impact on them is of prime importance.
In the near term (1-2 years) you will not be greatly impacted, beyond receiving information from both municipalities involved. You will also have an opportunity to provide feedback during the consultation process. If the annexation is approved by the Government of Alberta as proposed, you will become a Fort Saskatchewan resident. In the longer term, both municipalities are committed to negotiating terms that maintain your rural lifestyle until development occurs. We need your input on areas like services, roads and taxes so we can represent your needs in these negotiations.
How quickly is this going to happen?
This process to approve the annexation could take up to two years. Once initiated, both municipalities must negotiate in good faith. Public consultations must also take place. The timing of any proposed annexation going before the Municipal Government Board (MGB) for a hearing is dependent on how long those two consultations take. It is also influenced by how far in advance the MGB is booking hearings.
For comparison, the Town of Beaumont’s annexation took a little over two years to get from the filing of the notice of intention to annex to the MGB. The City of Edmonton’s application to annex Leduc will take a much longer period of time to get to the Board.
What will happen to my taxes?
Eventually there will be a transition to a Fort Saskatchewan tax structure. The duration of grandfathering will be determined during consultation; terms as long as 30 years are common. Both communities are committed to minimizing the impacts on affected residents for as long as possible. Affected residents will have several opportunities to share their thoughts through resident meetings and the Municipal Government Board process before any decision is made.
7. Will annexation have an impact on companies within the Industrial Heartland?Permanent link to Will annexation have an impact on companies within the Industrial Heartland?
Alberta’s Industrial Heartland area is a hugely positive example of regional cooperation. Annexations can lead to uncertainty, and impact investment. In this instance, taking a collaborative, negotiated approach should increase investor confidence in our commitment to industry in this region.
8. What is the expected impact on businesses in the affected area?Permanent link to What is the expected impact on businesses in the affected area?
As with citizens, the impact will be minimal in the near term. More information on the terms of the annexation and transition provisions will be forthcoming.
What will happen to our services?
There will be no immediate impact to your services. More information on the terms of the annexation and transition provisions will be forthcoming.
10. What is the annexation process? Can I get involved?Permanent link to What is the annexation process? Can I get involved?
Citizens who wish to oppose the annexation will be given the opportunity to provide input through the public consultation process, and can participate in the hearing held by the MGB.
Is this leading to amalgamation?
There is no plan in place for amalgamation at this time. Our two municipalities have much in common. In addition to annexation, both municipalities agree it makes sense to explore some options as they relate to providing services to citizens, while supporting residential, commercial and industrial growth in our region. All models of governance and service delivery will be explored and discussed in the near and long term as part of this agreement.
April 2019 annexation update
With the conclusion of the collaborative annexation negotiations between Strathcona County and the City of Fort Saskatchewan, as well as public consultations done by both municipalities with affected landowners, the Joint Report on Negotiations was approved by both Councils. This document is now a part of the City of Fort Saskatchewan's annexation application to the Municipal Government Board. The remainder of the annexation application materials can be found on Fort Saskatchewan's annexation webpage.