Okotoks annexation plan should be reduced
By: Wheel staff
| Posted: Wednesday, Oct 02, 2013 08:48 am
The Town of Okotoks is preparing to submit an application to annex enough land for 60 years of growth, but in doing so it is setting itself up for a long and onerous negotiation process.
If Okotoks council wants a smooth and successful negotiation it should condense its current annexation proposal to cover 30 years of growth and abandon its quest to tack on land south of Highway 7, including Wind Walk.
At its last regular meeting Okotoks council discussed plans to annex 1,188 hectares of land to accommodate growth over the next 60 years. The land would come from the MD of Foothills around Okotoks. The proposed annexation also includes three significant developments in varying stages of approval: Gold Medal, Sandstone Springs and Wind Walk.
These developments are directly south of Okotoks on the south side of Highway 7 (Wind Walk and Gold Medal) and to the west (Sandstone Springs).
However, the MD of Foothills has been adamant it will not support an annexation application from Okotoks if it includes land south of Highway 7.
Yet, it appears Okotoks council has ignored the MD’s request and is plowing forward.
In addition, it seems odd Okotoks would pursue Wind Walk so vehemently, even hypocritical, since it has opposed the 450-home development since inception and is now preparing to take its fight to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Among Okotoks’ concerns is Wind Walk will impact the Town’s water sources.
To argue Wind Walk residents will be using Okotoks’ infrastructure without paying taxes to the Town is misleading. The MD contributes to the maintenance of Okotoks infrastructure through a cost-share agreement.
Therefore, Okotoks should rethink its annexation proposal.
There is no question Okotoks will grow when and if additional water sources are secured. Therefore, looking ahead to developing a land bank makes sense. However, it would be prudent to reduce the scope of the annexation proposal to 30 years of growth and focus on lands north and east of Okotoks.
This would ensure a much less contentious negotiation with the MD, meaning it would have more chance of a quick resolution.
In doing so, the new Okotoks council can take the time to repair what may become a frayed relationship with their counterparts on the MD council.