Annexation timetable simply too aggressive
| Posted: Thursday, Jan 24, 2013 06:18 pm
Okotoks town council wants to have its annexation process complete by the end of 2013, but such an ambitious timetable is unlikely to happen. It begs the question, why the rush?
Okotoks has informed its annexation partner, the MD of Foothills, it would like to initiate negotiations on annexation immediately in an effort to have an agreement in place by the end of the year.
However, the Foothills MD council is not on the same page.
Foothills wants to first renegotiate the Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP) which could be utilized as a guide to future annexation and growth. The current IDP does not include growth corridors for the Town of Okotoks.
The IDP has been a touchy subject between the two municipalities mainly due to the Wind Walk development on the south side of Highway 7. Okotoks has been opposed to Wind Walk while the MD has pushed the development ahead.
As a result, there is some animosity between the two councils when it comes to future growth and development around Okotoks.
Although the two municipalities, who have a strong working relationship for the most part, seem to be far apart on the issue of growth and annexation meaning coming to an agreement on a new IDP will take time.
A recent annexation agreement between the Town of High River and the MD of Foothills took two years to complete and that was with an IDP already in place.
Okotoks currently has enough serviced lots to last two years and a bank of unserviced lots to last an additional two years. There is no reason to panic as Okotoks has land available and it should not be in a time crunch to approve additional development.
Besides, Okotoks does not have the water to accomodate annexation at this time. Okotoks needs to be securing additional water to accomodate the land bank it has within its existing borders.
The Town’s top priority should be finding more water whether it’s by acquiring water licences or regional pipeline agreements, not ramming through an annexation agreement for land it cannot service.
Okotoks and Foothills councils should take their time in negotiating an IDP agreement and only then proceed to annexation to ensure it benefits urban and rural landowners.
In an election year making a bold prediction of annexing land within 2013 is outlandish and reeks of politicking.