This latest attempt would see White City triple in size by taking away:
Residents in Emerald Park & the countryside, our commercial sector, and all our surrounding communities have concerns about the impacts annexation could have on them including increased taxes, loss of services, new costs for water, and continued economic growth. Residents have many questions about the impact annexation will have on ongoing economic growth and prosperity in the corridor from Balgonie to Regina.
We will continue to stand for the residents of Emerald Park and the RM to make sure their voices are heard. Annexation is an issue that affects us all. These are Our Communities, and this is Our Choice.
The town of White City has indicated their intention to annex into their town:
White City is calling this an “amalgamation” but ratepayers of the RM of Edenwold know better. This is an annexation of our communities plain and simple. These areas have provided the backbone of much of the corridor’s growth over the past decade and have benefitted from the leadership of the RM’s Council. So why is White City suddenly trying to grab these lands now? What will annexation mean for ratepayers?
Did you know? The area in yellow was part of the 2015 mutually agreed upon annexation and includes almost 400 acres of land.
No. There have been reports in the media lately that the RM is opposed to regional cooperation and regional development. The truth is the exact opposite.
The RM has worked for years to encourage a mix of development in the region from residential, to commercial, industrial and agricultural uses. This has created a broad tax base, diversified our communities, and helped attract and retain more development and investment.
The RM continues to develop a regional planning strategy that builds the future together within our municipality and with our urban neighbours. Our neighbours include a city, one village, three towns, five First Nations communities and six other rural municipalities and we have strong working relationships with all.
Even though the relationship has been rocky with the town of White City recently, between these two communities, there exists a long history of collaboration and regional cooperation. In the last few years, this cooperation includes:
Building a new Wastewater Treatment Plant
Support for the Southeast Regional Library, White City Branch
Other financial investments by the RM for the town
The RM and White City have worked side-by-side to develop one of the fastest growing areas in the province. We are proud of this cooperation and what we have accomplished by working together. The RM of Edenwold congratulates White City on their recent growth and appreciates the beautiful community White City has become. Their residential growth and our commercial growth have been mutually supportive and beneficial and we see that continuing into the future. But residents have made their views clear – annexation is the wrong approach.
The RM is happy to continue to work together with White City and all our neighbours in good faith with the common goal of keeping this region strong, growing and prosperous. Annexation threatens this regional cooperation and development. Residents of the RM say that regional development isn’t broken, so why would we risk it? They agree these are our communities, and is it our choice how they grow and develop.
Residents of the RM have rightly been asking what it will mean for them if White City is allowed to annex large parts of the RM. The architects of White City’s plan simply dismiss these concerns and tell our ratepayers not to worry and to trust them. Well, here’s the full story. There is the potential for:
While the full impact to residents of the RM is not fully known, concerns about tax hikes and cuts to services remain top-of -mind issues for people. White City has a long list of expensive projects they say they’re pursuing, however it is unclear how they could ever afford them based on their current tax revenues. On top of this, they would also need to pay the RM for compensation if their annexation scheme succeeds.
But residents of Emerald Park also raised concerns about representation if annexation goes ahead. In the past, as Emerald Park grew, residents asked the RM about governance and representation. They said their growing community needed a dedicated councillor whose constituency is specifically Emerald Park. The RM agreed and in 2016, boundaries were realigned to create a new division for Emerald Park. This council position, like other RM council seats, created a natural constituency for Emerald Park residents.
White City’s council is not elected on a ward system; there are no natural constituencies. The town simply selects the top seven council members who receive the most votes. Given the difference in population size between the town and Emerald Park, there is no guarantee that Emerald Park would actually see representatives from the area. In theory this means town council could be made up of seven people from the same street in White City. In practice this means that no matter what happens no single councillor is responsible for, or need be responsive to local concerns within each of the different neighbourhoods that form the town. Unlike the RM which has actual constituencies and representation for them, in White City if you have a problem with your water service for example, you cannot simply contact your councillor because you don’t actually have one.
Annexation does not solve the issue of representation, in fact it only makes it harder to resolve.
The RM heard the concerns of its citizens and was happy to respond to Emerald Park residents by giving them a new seat at the table. There also continues to be discussion at the Council table with respect to additional dedicated representation for Emerald Park citizens and businesses. The RM is a community of communities; we have worked for years to encourage a mix of development in the region from residential, to commercial, industrial and agricultural uses. This has created a broad tax base, diversified our communities, and helped attract and retain more development and investment.
Like you, we believe that representation in Our Communities is important, and when it comes to representation we should have Our Choice.
Annexation is a costly approach; it produces losers on both sides, and all parties should have the full story before a plan is finalized and have their say. It should be a last step rather than opening pitch.
Any RM that loses land in an annexation must be compensated for the loss. In our case the town would need to pay tens of millions of dollars for the estimated compensation costs. According to their own financial statements, this is money that the town does not have, so residents are asking if White City will raise taxes to pay for it.
The town is also musing about building a brand-new multi-use recreation facility. Based on the items included in their recent request for proposals, the cost of this facility is estimated to be about $80 million to build, not including operation costs once it is up and running. White City is also planning to build a new town centre.
The costs of their plans keep mounting, as do questions about their ability to pay for it all.
Despite White City’s vague assurances about taxes not going up, sooner or later the bills will come due – how else can they pay for compensation, a new multi-use facility, and a new town centre, plus the additional operating costs, while still maintaining the daily upkeep for streets, roads, water, sewer and other infrastructure unless they hike taxes?
White City’s annexation proposal is a “one size fits all approach” that doesn't work for our communities or residents. There are many choices open to the RM and White City.
Make sure our communities and our choice are heard. Tell White City you want all the facts. Tell White City you want to work together on these issues and not be subject to an annexation that threatens regional development and creates nothing but uncertainty.
The RM of Edenwold has a long history of working with our neighbours. The RM continues to develop a regional planning strategy that builds the future together within our municipality and with our neighbours. Our neighbours include one city, three towns, one village, five First Nations and six rural municipalities. Our newly updated Official Community Plan is being built with input from our residents and ratepayers and will be presented for feedback this winter. We have plans for a multi-use facility, more walkways, more recreation opportunities, diversified community service amenities and most importantly we have the municipal lands, utility services and funds to pay for it. We also continue to work collaboratively with neighbours on projects such as wastewater treatment, street and road construction, joint drainage projects and collaborative regional land use, servicing and infrastructure planning.
The RM of Edenwold has a plan for the future and a strong record of building community responsibly. Let's continue.
These are Our Communities, and this is Our Choice.
Yesterday (Jan.15), White City issued a statement stating the RM and town were entering into negotiations to further their annexation plans.
This is categorically untrue.
As was posted here on January 10th last week, we were clear – we are opposed to annexation.
We initiated facilitated discussions with the town to address a number of issues including a path forward for continued cooperative development, a better assessment of a number of possible options rather than only annexation, and unresolved issues from the 2015 agreement between the RM and the town. In our letter to the town informing them of our preference to enter into facilitated discussions from November 5th of 2018, we said:
Rather than discussions between appointed annexation negotiation committees, we believe that a more proactive way of addressing and solving the concerns and issues related to the visions of growth we have for the area would be to enter into facilitated discussions through the Ministry of Justice...We believe this process would allow our communities to have the open and honest discussion a matter of this magnitude needs to have. We believe that there are a number of issues our communities need to have discussions about and we believe that this is the process that will work best to address objectives of both our communities.
We are disappointed the town would deliberately mislead their own residents and ours by claiming these facilitated discussions are the next step in the annexation process. It is difficult to enter into discussions of any kind if one party is not acting in good faith. We believe the town is not acting in good faith by issuing this statement.
In the interest of transparency with residents in both our communities, the entire letter the RM sent to the town initiating these facilitated discussions can be found here.
We invite the town to correct the record, withdraw their claim we have agreed to an annexation negotiation and meet with us for the planned facilitated discussion to work together to explore all our options for cooperative development.
The RM continues to strive to work cooperatively with our neighbours and keep our communities strong & growing.
It’s a new year, with new opportunities, but we’re still facing an old issue – annexation – and we’ve received a lot of questions about what’s next.
Here’s an update on the annexation issue.
For starters, despite an almost year-long public relations campaign by White City to try and build support for their annexation grab, we still do not have an official application from the town. This has left residents both here in the RM and the town a little confused because the timeline set out by White City indicated that there would be formal public notice and resolution requests by November 30 of last year. So far, that timeline set by White City itself has come and gone without any news.
In the meantime however, the RM initiated a series of facilitated discussions with White City to address a number of outstanding issues including unresolved matters from the 2015 agreement that White City has yet to fulfill.
These discussions are in no way centered on White City’s proposed annexation, because as above, there is still no formal application from White City. These facilitated discussions are also not a prelude to negotiations when or if White City formally moves to an application stage for annexation.
We feel it is important to keep residents as informed as possible on this issue.
Until a formal annexation proposal is presented by White City our communities remain perplexed, not knowing when – or if – White City plans to proceed. We share our residents’ frustration that not only does this issue keep coming back every few years, but now we are left in limbo wondering when White City plans to progress to a formal application stage. This is not a good situation for residents or business who want this issue put to rest sooner rather than later so we can all start moving Our Communities forward again.
Over the Fall, the RM held a series of open house townhalls to hear directly from residents their stance on annexation, and to share with residents information on the impact annexation might have.
How much is enough?
The One Community One Voice website says they need room to grow. In 2015 the RM of Edenwold voluntarily released almost 400 acres to help White City meet its own growth plan. At the time, White City’s plan said that that would be enough space for the next 10-15 years.
But today, only three years later, White City’s plan is to annex over 23 quarter sections of land from the RM.
To put that into perspective that would make White City 3 times the size it is today.
That’s 5 times the size of Harbour Landing in Regina.
And it is over 10 times the area their own growth plan said they needed.
The 2015 agreement was carried out in support of White City’s Town Centre Plan and also provided the town with more lands along the No. 1 Highway. Unfortunately, the town has yet to meet several of the conditions from that agreement. Today, White City is even trying to annex land that they specifically agreed not to try and take in the future.
We know our communities are growing, and we know White City is growing too. We think it’s good that our communities are attracting people to live and work. We think this growth has been and can continue to be mutually beneficial for both municipalities and our citizens. But both sides have to act in good faith.
We think there is a better way. We think there’s a way for both of our communities to continue to enjoy the benefits that ongoing regional cooperation brings, won’t hit residents deep in their pocket books, and is win-win for everyone.
Our Communities are growing, and residents want Our Choice to work for everyone, fairly.
Residents of Emerald Park and the RM continue to stand up for Our Communities against the latest annexation attempt by White City – this is their 8th try in the past 26 years. Residents of the RM are saying “No” to annexation and “Yes” to more regional cooperation. Annexation is a zero-sum game where one side wins at the expense of the other. Improved regional cooperation is a win-win for the RM and the town.
Harald from Emerald Park says these are Our Communities, and agrees that Our Choice is not to fix something that isn’t broken.
“I like it here,… My family and I…moved here in 1993. We enjoy living here in Emerald Park very much, and we are proud to live here. The RM of Edenwold has done a good job managing it and looking after us. We are satisfied with all of our RM Councillors and fine with only one Councillor for Emerald Park.
I am not quite sure how many people are aware that White City originally turned down developers to develop this land who then then turned to the RM of Edenwold who helped develop what we now call Emerald Park.
I was shocked when, on the 6th of June, suddenly a proposal, out of the blue, from the Town of White City appeared in the local news to annex Emerald Park and residential estates including Park Meadows, Escott/Deneve and Meadow Ridge. The commercial developments of Great Plains Industrial Park and Prairie View Business Park, as well as many sections of agricultural land. The proposal claimed it to be for future growth and strategic commercial development. For land that is already developed?
We like the water rates and our taxes are much lower than anywhere around here! We have never had a problem dealing with the RM of Edenwold. The road maintenance is top notch and in winter the snow removal is excellent.
We like the way things are! If it’s not broken, why fix it? …We will not be gaining anything by this annexation?
– Harald, received via email October 2018
Local radio station CKRM is reporting on the annexation facing our communities. Residents have been very clear from the beginning; they do not want to be annexed by White City, but they and the RM want to continue to work together to keep building our communities.
Today, the RM of Edenwold is launching Our Communities, Our Choice (www.OurChoice.ca) as part of its ongoing process of collecting feedback and sharing the facts with residents on the latest annexation attempt by White City.
“This is the fifth time since 2005 that White City has attempted annexation of parts of the RM, and the eighth time in 26 years” said Mitch Huber, Reeve for the RM of Edenwold.
“Residents of the RM continue to raise concerns they have about the impacts annexation will have for them and their communities, so it’s important that they get all the facts and not just one side of the story.” Huber added.
The RM has already held three open house townhalls for residents of the RM, each focusing on different aspects including residential areas, the commercial sector, and country estate areas. The RM is holding a fourth townhall tonight, open to all residents.
The Reeve and RM planning and administration staff are holding townhalls to provide counter-balance for residents, and to gather feedback from them about their concerns with annexation. Our Communities, Our Choice will be a one-stop space to get just the facts, as well as the latest news on the annexation issue.
“We keep hearing from different parts of our communities, overwhelmingly opposed to annexation by White City because of what annexation could mean for them, their tax rates, and their current services” said Huber.
“We want to hear from our residents, and we want to provide some facts for them to balance out what they’re hearing from the other side. Given the amount of uncertainty we’re hearing at the open-houses and directly from residents, White City’s plans for a forced annexation aren’t going over well.” Huber said.
“We will continue to stand up for the residents of the RM. Annexation is an issue that affects all our communities, and we should have our choice” Huber concluded.
The fourth open-house townhall will take place tonight at the Ramada Hotel in Emerald Park at 7:00 pm and is open to the public.