By Trevor Busch
The Town of Taber is preparing to annex a parcel of land west of Highway 864 in a jurisdictional boundary shuffle with the Municipal District of Taber.
Following in camera discussion at their Feb. 12 regular meeting, council voted unanimously to direct administration to begin the process of annexation for lands located to the west of the Town of Taber associated with the Waste Transfer Station and Trout Pond in alignment with the Municipal Government Act, Division 6, and Municipal Government Boards annexation process and principles.
“I don’t know the exact figure, but I believe it’s roughly 900 acres,” said Mayor Andrew Prokop. “That includes the transfer station, and there’s a couple of residents that are out that way that are included in that, and of course our Trout Pond trail enhancement project is also included in that parcel. It’s all town-owned land, and has been for some time. Because of our infrastructure we’ve got going on out there, and our enhancement projects — we’ve got roughly $1 million into that in the last year, and we’re looking to add to that to complete the whole campground process and everything else. And that’s going to be over the next few years. As we can, and with what money is available, we’re going to continue to work on that.”
During the in camera portion of a public meeting, members of the general public, including the media, are barred from witnessing or participating in the proceedings or discussion, although all subsequent resolutions must be made in open session.
“Anything west of Highway 864 is M.D. jurisdiction, but that’s where the town land starts is in that particular area,” said Prokop. “We’re just at the stage in the annexation application process — the M.D. is very aware of our plans going forward — and we will certainly be discussing any concerns, and welcome any discussion the M.D. wants to have with us, and we would offer that as part of the process with the resident owners also.”
According to Prokop, the town is planning to spend roughly $700,000 on various projects in the area in 2018. The jurisdictional change could also have implications for M.D. taxes.
“We would be paying M.D. taxes there, but it’s not a huge bill for 900 acres. Because most of that isn’t developed it’s not a huge bill attached to that.”
While not ruling out the possibility of residential development in the area in the future, Prokop indicated that was not currently a consideration.
“We haven’t discussed that as a possibility. That’s not what we’re looking at at this stage at all.”
What the town is considering is the need for an enhanced law enforcement presence in the area once various recreational projects are finalized.
“Jurisdictionally, right now the RCMP is in control and is responsible for that, but in our mind, the town would much rather have our Taber Police Service be responsible jurisdictionally for those areas because of all the vested interest and investment in that area,” said Prokop. “It’s a stone’s throw out of town limits. Because of all the enhancement changes, the recent investment, and the amount of activity we expect to be out there, we would like to be able to police that properly, and under our own jurisdictional boundary requirements.”
Prokop pointed out that annexations are a common process conducted between municipalities on a fairly regular basis.
“It’s pretty much inevitable at some point, and in most communities that happens. They just did a recent one in Coaldale, as an example, with a fairly large area. It’s not an uncommon process to undertake.”