The town of White City is planning another annexation attempt of large parts of the RM of Edenwold.

This is the eighth time in the past 26 years that White City has tried to annex parts of our communities.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

The town of White City has indicated their intention to annex into their town:

  • Emerald Park
  • Park Meadows Estates
  • Meadow Ridge Estates
  • Escott/Deneve
  • Great Plains Industrial Park (Emerald Park) and additional lands

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 equals an area larger than Harbour Landing in Regina.

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

  • The joint-effort wastewater treatment facility has been in the works for nine years through the joint White City, RM authority (WCRM158 Wastewater Management Authority)
  • The day-to-day operations of the completed plant will be managed by WCRM158 with oversight by council members of both the town and the RM of Edenwold.  The RM will cover our portion of that cost from development fees and money saved in reserves.
  • Of the total project budget of $22 million dollars, provincial and federal funds total $14.6  million with the remaining $7.3 million of the costs being funded through the WCRM158.

Support for the Southeast Regional Library, White City Branch

  • Recent renovation sponsored by both the town and the RM

Road Maintenance

  • Applying dust control to White City roads at cost
  • Maintaining portions of Emerald Park Road and Betteridge Road within White City’s jurisdiction

Other financial investments by the RM for the town

  • Splash Park in White City - sponsored by the RM
  • New turf for the École White City School football field
  • Water services to aid with water pressure issues in the town during construction of their water treatment plan (3 summers in a row)

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:

  • Increased Taxes. Many residents of Emerald Park already pay lower taxes than they would in White City. White City has announced plans for a new town-centre, their new town office and other facilities to be located on an undeveloped & unserviced agriculture field. These are expensive wish-list items. Tax hikes will also likely be necessary to pay for tax-loss compensation to the RM – just one of the many costs of annexation.
  • Loss of weekly services like garbage pickup, to a twice a month system as is currently done in White City.
  • Cost of converting well water systems. White City’s annexation plan suggests that properties with well-water will be “grandfathered” and allowed to stay on their existing well systems. However, what happens when properties change hands? Residents in other communities have walked through the conversion process to a civic water system, costing some homeowners tens of thousands of dollars each. Our communities have no long-term guarantees that this will not happen to them after annexation. White City still has outstanding responsibilities from the 2015 annexation so how can residents trust their promises on "grandfathering”?
  • Degradation of regional cooperation. Thanks to a forward-thinking approach and sensible planning from the RM, the corridor between Balgonie and Regina has seen significant growth over the past decade or more. Both the town and the RM of Edenwold have benefitted from this cooperation and growth in the region. It hasn’t always been easy, but the results speak for themselves. Annexation is a solution looking for a problem. By trying to force an annexation of several established RM communities regional cooperation and growth is under threat. This impacts everyone in the RM, White City, and the region. Continued growth along this corridor benefits everyone so why gamble with it so recklessly?
  • Limited experience and capacity. The town has very little experience with the different types of developments they are proposing to take over. Commercial, industrial, agricultural, and resource-based development requires a very different planning process than the low-density residential White City has experience with. The town currently claims they have no commercial lands to develop. However, White City decided to develop more residential areas along Highway 1 & Highway 48 despite the land’s potential for commercial development. In 2015, the RM voluntarily released 40 acres of highway-frontage property to White City along Highway 1, which has yet to be developed. White City’s plans to concentrate commercial development in the yet-to-be built town centre are in an undeveloped area lacking services. Business and commercial owners have indicated to the RM this makes development there less desirable than along Highway 1.
  • Financial insecurity. White City claims taxes have not increased even though there have been infrastructure investments. But that’s not the whole story. White City has sold assets to pay for infrastructure development in the past such as the water treatment plant. Town residents are now paying for this decision every month through their water bills. Now, the town is proposing to sell off their municipally owned recreational lands along Highway 48 to make way for commercial development, despite the town’s stated goal of improving recreational opportunities. What happens when the town has no more assets to sell?
  • Lack of transparency. Were the town’s residents consulted before the town started spending their tax dollars pursuing annexation of a neighbouring community?  Were residents even informed about what the town intended to do with their tax money?  Do residents know how much has been and will be spent pursuing this latest annexation attempt?  The town claims to be honest and transparent, but even their own residents were kept in the dark while this plan was fabricated. This is the fifth annexation attempt by White City since 2005, why are town ratepayers continually being asked to pay for repeated failed annexation attempts?
  • Unchecked utility rates and spending. According to the town, one of the benefits of becoming a city is that they can set their own utility rates and operate within a debt limit without annual oversight from the Saskatchewan Municipalities Board (SMB). White City already charges higher rates for water than the RM; what will happen if the utility rates are unrestricted, especially in the case where there is no competition from the RM locally? White City is proposing to annex massive amounts of land from the RM, which requires payment of tax loss compensation among other costs, including the building of a new office and a recreational facility which will cost millions of dollars more. Based on past financial performance, how can residents trust White City to manage these huge costs and debt responsibly when there is no longer any oversight from the Saskatchewan Municipal Board?

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.

  • Status quo – our two communities remain and continue to exist side-by-side, working together where appropriate to ensure the long-term growth and prosperity of our communities and the corridor. It’s not a perfect arrangement but it works most of the time; however future developments may require a new way of doing things.
  • A Planning District for White City and Emerald Park (and possibly surrounding areas), that encourages joint planning and develops a structure for comment, consultation and collaborative efforts.
  • A Planning Authority, which takes planning and development out of the municipal realm and moves them to the regional level. This does not require municipal restructuring.  
  • A Municipal District. Municipal Districts are new for Saskatchewan, but the provincial government has legislation in place to allow for their creation. Municipal Districts are used successfully in several other provinces to help mixed communities like the RM and White City work together more effectively to plan for the long-term prosperity of their region. The RM is a community of communities, from agricultural, to urban residential and includes large-scale commercial and industrial areas all contributing to the overall success of not only the RM but to neighbouring communities. Municipal Districts present an untapped opportunity to build a model that works best for our communities and flexible enough to allow for almost any governing structure we choose. A Municipal District reinforces the “community of communities” model and allows for greater cooperation and for the RM and White City to truly join together to form a new, forward-looking governance model planning for the future of all communities and residents together.

Speak up!

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.

News

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?                                                                      

Best regards…”

– 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.

Click here to read the story.

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.

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