Proposed Land Annexation
It doesn’t happen often, but when annexation is discussed, it’s usually quite contentious. The proposal on the table now is that and it affects our tri-region partners- the County of Parkland and Stony Plain.
Watch my video on land annexation on my Facebook page.
The land annexation proposal does propose to annex land to the west from the Town of Stony Plain and a good chunk of land from the County of Parkland. This land is south and east of highway 16a and east of Century Road. It is prime agricultural land and the county is happy with the proposal.
Rapid Growth Means Annexation is Necessary
Spruce Grove is growing and quickly. Hopefully we do slow our growth but right now, we have to plan for our future. The Government of Alberta changed their planning for cities to have 25 years of land to now needing 50 years of planned land. We don’t have it, hence why the annexation talks have begun.
We’re in the early stages but it will be an issue that the new council (and Stony’s and Parkland’s councils) will have to deal with. This affects how we grow, where we grow and possibly when we grow. We have to be smart on how we approach annexation.
Typically, Spruce Grove has split how it develops– residential to the north of Hwy 16a with industrial built to the south of the highway. The annexation proposes we grow south and this is where there are questions.
- Are we prepared to be able to service that are of the city? We only have one protective services building (where the fire hall is located) and there is already debate about whether we can make response teams to areas that are on the same side of the tracks as the station. Industrial and the new areas would be south of the tracks- so what happens if there’s a train? If there is a fire or an emergency south of the tracks and there’s a 7 or 8 minute long train, what then? If we annex south, we have to plan for a second fire station south of the tracks.
- How will we handle the additional traffic on the highways and side streets? Already, the highway backs up considerably and if we now have more people heading south (and a train is there), how are we planning to alleviate traffic jams on the highway? Are we upgrading highways 627 and 628 to handle the additional traffic?
- We can’t build overpasses (no room within the cities) and underpasses aren’t usually doable, do what is our plan to move traffic north and south? Are we hoping to put an overpass at Pioneer or elsewhere?
This is the problem. We don’t know what the discussions have been, for they’ve been behind closed doors. Yes, annexation of land is sensitive, especially when you’re dealing with land owners, we get it. But this is not adding up.
Why Not North?
Logically, one wonders why we aren’t going north. North seems to be the easiest as the infrastructure over the highway is already in place. We can at least get emergency vehicles north without worry about a train. We could widen the overpasses to accommodate traffic.
Putting in services could be the issue. Maybe it’s the rumour that the province would make us take over maintenance of the Yellowhead (mixed messages here), but whatever it is, how well has this been considered?
Let’s have the discussion. We have to. Parkland County has already indicated their not happy with the proposed annexation now. It’s taking away prime agricultural land. Is there room for compromise here?