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.

News

Earlier this week, officials from the RM of Edenwold and the Town of White City met with provincial mediators to discuss White City’s annexation proposal. 

The Saskatchewan Municipal Board requires municipalities take part in mediation and attempt to come to mutual agreement on issues for negotiation as part of the application process.

Both parties have agreed to continue discussions in July.

MAKE YOUR OPPOSITION TO ANNEXATION KNOWN!

You will have your chance to HAVE YOUR SAY regarding White City’s proposed annexation of Emerald Park, Great Plains Industrial Park, Escott, Deneve, Park Meadows, Meadow Ridge and surrounding agricultural lands:

Date Time Location
JUNE 5th, 2019 7:00 PM WHITE CITY COMMUNITY HALL

Can’t make it or want to be sure your voice is heard? Submit a letter in opposition to the town’s proposed annexation to:

White City – townoffice@whitecity.ca

Copy of all letters to:

RM of Edenwold – rm158@sasktel.net
Hon. Minister Warren Kaeding, Minister of 
Government Relations – minister.gr@gov.sk.ca

This public meeting is a critical step in White City’s pursuit of this annexation and

A second public hearing may be held by the Saskatchewan Municipal Board when the application is before them, so please save a copy of your letters and comments so they can be shared again with the Board and added to the official record.

Does White City use actual facts in this annexation campaign, or are they among those who believe in “alternative facts”?

1. How many acres does White City think they need?

The town asks “Is annexing 2300 acres of land unusual? Why does the proposal suggest that amount of land?”

This question is irrelevant since their own proposal is to annex 3,839.12 acres (see their Growth Study, page 70, Link). They are proposing to annex over 23.5 quarter sections of land from the RM.

 

2. Does White City know what they are after?

In their “Fact Files” video, White City shows the proposed new “one community” boundary… but it’s not the same as the boundary they show in their growth study or restructuring proposal! 

 

3. Have they done their research?

White City states that other municipalities have annexed large areas. The first example they use is Martensville with the claim that “they recently annexed 3200 acres” from the RM of Corman Park. Yet, Martensville’s own news release says they annexed “approximately 1550 acres” (Source: Martensville website, news section, June 2018, Link). It also says the rationale for their annexation was a Growth Study, which projected a need of between 1,156 and 2,207 acres of land for the City to grow into by 2040 (20- to 25-year projection). The City of Martensville already has a population of 9,645 (2016 census, Link), which is over 3 times the population of White City. Further, the amount of 1550 acres is expected to “support residential, commercial and institutional uses and a population in the range of 16,000 to 25,000 people” (Martensville website, news, June 2018, Link).

 

Why would White City need more than double the land area that Martensville needs for a much smaller population?

Further, since White City is sharing information about Martensville’s annexation inferring that it is similar to their own proposal, why haven’t they shared information on the tax loss compensation aspect? Martensville paid the RM of Corman Park 22.5 times tax loss compensation for the annexed lands (Source: Clark’s Crossing Gazette, June 28, 2017, Link).

Why does White City make no accommodation financially for the payment of tax loss compensation and make the claim that it could be possible that the RM may have to pay the town for “damages” even though it is the RM that would lose its tax base (Restructuring proposal, page 30, Link)? How does this make any sense when Martensville paid the RM of Corman Park 22.5 times tax loss compensation as part of its annexation just one year ago? 

The town of White City is promising everything to everyone in a “Say Anything” campaign, despite lacking a solid framework to deliver on these promises. This isn’t community-building; the town’s annexation plan is fragmenting our communities, pulling pieces away that have taken years to build.

In 2015, as part of the mutual agreement to help them meet their 20-year growth plan and town center project, the RM voluntarily transferred 400 acres of undeveloped land to the town. To this day not a single shovel has gone in the ground to deliver on this project.

The town has said they want reasonable room to grow but now they’re saying that’s not enough. They’ve already shown that they will say anything one day, and do another the next; how can you believe them now?

The RM employs a cooperative approach to planning which has facilitated the growth of a prosperous business sector, including the Butte Business District on the north side of Highway 1. The RM is proud to have them as part of our thriving business community. Among the many examples of the foresight and planning from past RM councils, many businesses north of the highway have benefitted from a tax incentive program to get them started. This has helped us build a diverse and well-rounded community.

On the other hand, after failing to commence work on their own growth projects, White City’s council has chosen to attempt a divisive annexation of our developed lands.

Cooperation, not annexation has already delivered real benefits for our communities. Let’s say no to forcing residents and businesses to choose sides, and say yes to a collaborative approach to community building.

Mayor Bruce Evans launched his annexation attempt today claiming this is the feedback he’s received. If this were the case then he and town council in White City haven’t been listening to residents here in our communities whose emphatic feedback has been clear – Cooperation, not Annexation.

Last Fall in order to hear directly from our residents and to present additional information that the town didn’t present, we asked residents at four town hall meetings if they supported being annexed by the town.

86% of residents in our communities said “No”.

So, who are the people Mayor Evans says want this? Him and his town council?

Our residents have always supported the mutual growth of our two communities – it’s why in 2015 the RM voluntarily agreed to transfer over 400 acres of unused land to the town to support growth their own plan. The town said it would serve for 15 years. Now four years later the town is moving the goal posts, trying to take away 10 times more land than they said they needed only a few years ago (and 5 times larger than Harbour Landing) including developed properties.

Our communities should continue to work and grow together with Cooperation, NOT Annexation.

“Our residents have said ‘no’ to this annexation proposal,” says Reeve Mitchell Huber, “as for myself and the entire RM council, we have a duty to represent that ‘no.’”

April 25, concerned residents of White City contacted RM of Edenwold staff and council members, asking why — as discussions have been ongoing between the town and RM —  that the town had representatives knocking on doors seeking endorsement of a town-initiated petition. 

It was found the petition was town-sponsored and asking for support for a yet-to-be-finalized annexation proposal that has not been presented to the RM of Edenwold or to the Saskatchewan Municipal Board.

“As for myself and the entire RM council, we are extremely disappointed the neighbouring municipality has taken this approach. This door-to-door campaign continues to undermine the ability of our two communities to grow together. The RM believes we are stronger when we work together. All one has to do is look at the success of the WCRM158 wastewater treatment project.” 

“We will keep working forward, looking forward, planning forward. We have successes we are proud of and continue to build on those successes,” says Huber. “A bright future requires hard work, dedication and cooperation. Our community has shown we are up for it. We are proud of the community we have all built.” 

Joint Release – Wednesday March 13, 2019

Town of White City and RM of Edenwold No. 158

 

On Friday, March 8th, the Town of White City and the RM of Edenwold sat down together with provincial government mediators for a facilitated discussion.

As a result of this discussion, the Town of White City will make a formal request for a complementary resolution regarding its boundary alteration (annexation) proposal to the RM.

Once this application is made the RM will begin the formal process of considering the town’s integrated full-service community proposal. This application does not preclude discussions to explore areas of municipal cooperation in the future.

Both councils have agreed to provide joint status updates going forward.

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.

To see the full presentation please click here...

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.

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 includes almost 400 acres of land.

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?

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.

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?

If you’re a resident of Emerald Park you’ve likely heard White City say your taxes will go down after annexation. Setting aside the fact that most residents of Emerald Park already pay lower taxes than those in White City, the question being asked by Emerald Park residents is how?

White City and the proposed annexation area have a combined population of about 5,000 and the town has a long list of projects to pay for:

• A new multi-purpose recreation and aquatics centre
• A new town office
• A new man-made lake plus;
• Costs associated with tax-loss compensation (ranging from $30 million up to over $50 million)

Meanwhile in Regina, a city with over 215,000 people, residents are facing tax hikes in part to pay for a new outdoor water park with a reported price tag of only about $17 million.

So how can White City afford to pay for all these projects plus the costs of annexation and then also lower your taxes? The numbers just don’t add up!

Because the RM has worked to attract business and industry and has successfully created a business-friendly environment, we’ve been able to develop a diverse economy that helps to keep property taxes low while still delivering services and building our communities through projects like the recently opened soccer facility, a new municipal office in Emerald Park and new walking paths in the Emerald Park Business District.

Our Choice is a fiscally-responsible plan to work cooperatively with our neighbours to keep building Our Communities.

RCMP Policing Costs

If White City is successful in its proposed annexation, RCMP policing costs will increase for those within the new “one community”.

As an urban municipality with a population over 5,000, the new White City (“one community”) would be required to enter into a “Municipal Police Service Agreement” with the Government of Canada for the services of the RCMP. The municipality would be responsible for paying 70% of the cost of RCMP policing. In accordance with Section 3 of The Police Regulations, the minister would no longer have the authority to include White City under the global policing agreement for RCMP services through the Province.

Alternatively, the new White City could establish its own police force and cover all costs.

Current costs for RCMP Policing Services:

Municipality

2018

2019

2019 Pop Estimate

Per Capita Cost

RM of Edenwold

$204,924.87

$205,000

4,600

$44.56

White Cityi

$161,439

$175,825

3,671ii

$47.89

 

Examples of Policing Costs for RCMP for Saskatchewan’s Smaller Cities:

Municipality

Line Item

Year

Population (2016 Census)

Cost

Per Capita Cost

Humboldtiii

RCMP Policing

2019

5,869

$715,440

$121.90

Meadow Lakeiv

Total RCMP

2019

5,344

$785,000

$146,89

Martensvillev

RCMP Contract

2019

9,654

$944,000

$97.78

(note: these costs are the operational or contract costs only. There may be additional policing costs such as capital costs.)

 

Examples of Policing Costs for Municipal Police Forces:

Municipality

Line Item

Year

Population (2016 Census)

Cost

Per Capita Cost

Weyburnvi

Net operating budget – Police

2019

10,870

$2,897,050

$266.52

Estevanvii

Total Police Services Costs

2019

11,483

$5,260,176

$458.08

 

White City’s “Financial Impact Analysis”viii puts the policing costs for 2021 for the “one community” 2021 at only $292,493. This is not even double the town’s current policing costs even though the town expects the population to more than double and reach 7,865 by 2021 (including the proposed annexation)ix. This cost is only a little over a third of what the costs are for cities with a similar population (specifically Humboldt and Meadow Lake).

Why did the town and Corvus Business Advisors consider such low fees for policing in comparison to other similar municipalities? Did the town and Corvus Business Advisors not do their research? Or did they knowingly present low, unrealistic costs for RCMP policing?  

AND, if the policing costs are wrong, what else should be put into question? Can the “Financial Impact Analysis” be trusted at all?

 

Background Information

  • The determination and distribution of policing costs is governed by The Police Act, 1990x and The Police Regulationsxi. It involves formula that are complex to calculate.

 

  • Section 25 of The Police Act makes municipalities responsible for providing policing services. 

 

  • Section 26 allows municipalities to provide policing services either with its own service or, by agreement with the Government of Saskatchewan or the Federal Government, with the RCMP. There are 12 municipal police services and one First Nations police service in Saskatchewan. Everywhere else is policed by the RCMP. 

 

  • If a municipality contracts with the RCMP as the police service, then it pays a rate set by the Government in formula under The Police Regulations

 

  • RMs and municipalities less than 500 population receive policing from the RCMP acting under contract as the provincial police service. These communities pay a per capita fee for policing to the province. This fee is set by cabinet and does not represent full cost recovery and may be updated as part of the annual budget process.

 

  • Urban municipalities with a population between 500 and 5000 who elect the RCMP and participate in the province’s global policing agreement pay a per capita fee to the province (much like RMs and municipalities with a population less than 500). This fee is also set by cabinet and does not represent full cost recovery and may be updated as part of the annual budget process.

 

  • Urban municipalities with a population between 5,000 and 20,000 who elect the RCMP must enter into an agreement with Canada and pay 70% of the cost if the population is less than 15,000 or 90% of the cost if the population is greater than 15,000.

 

  • Any municipality that elects to establish its own police service pays 100% of the costs

 

  • Municipalities greater than 20,000 must establish their own police service and pay 100% of the cost.

 

  • The Police Act, 1990, in section 20, provides that the Government of Saskatchewan will provide policing services in: rural municipalities; municipalities with a population under 500; and in the Northern Saskatchewan Administration District. Section 23.1 of the Act makes special provision for the determination and distribution of policing costs for rural municipalities and other municipalities with a population under 500.

 

  • When an urban municipality reaches a population over 5,000, in accordance with Section 3 of The Police Regulations, the minister no longer has the authority to enter into an agreement for the services of the RCMP on behalf of the municipality. Rather, the municipality is either required to establish its own police force or enter into a “Municipal Police Service Agreement” with the Government of Canada for the services of the RCMP. Under Municipal Police Service Agreements, the majority of costs fall to the municipality with the federal government covering 30% (up to a population of 15,000, when funding arrangements change).

 

Policing borne by municipalities varies depending on the type and size of municipality. Generally speaking, municipalities with more population pay more. Again, generally speaking, rural municipalities tend to pay less.

If the Town’s proposed annexation were to be approved, the increased population would undoubtedly increase the policing costs for the Town of White City by considerably more than a per capita rate increase.

 

 

viii Source: White City/Corvus Business Advisors Financial Impact Analysis. Link: https://one-community.ca/downloads

ix Source: Town of White City Growth Study. Link: https://one-community.ca/downloads

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.

Cooperation

The claim that annexation is the only option for building a stronger community with improved planning doesn't tell the whole story. There are a number of other options for regional governance and growth management based on cooperation:
 
  1. Maintaining the status quo with two communities side-by-side with the execution of memorandums of understanding or partnership agreements to create a framework for how the communities can work collaboratively together on projects or items of mutual interest.
  2. Forming a municipal district to jointly create one new regional municipality with a single local government to face the challenges and growth of the area together. This option is considered further below. 
  3. Creating a regional planning structure such as a planning district or planning authority, which could move planning-related decisions to a regional level without altering local boundaries or governance structures.
 
Each of these options offer a different solution to growing communities like ours, that are mutually benefical, instead of a "win-lose" scenario like annexation. 
 
Municipal District Concept
In 2017, the idea of forming a municipal district was first suggested by the RM of Edenwold to the Village of Edenwold. The RM of Edenwold’s Council felt that a municipal district may be a governance model that could be mutually beneficial for both jurisdictions in a number of ways. For instance, the Village could benefit from the RM of Edenwold’s infrastructure experience and capacity while the RM could benefit from the added diversity and opportunity within the Village. So, the RM approached the Village to present and discuss the concept. Through a municipal district structure, there are numerous options for the management of different areas that allow for a level of autonomy for a specific area while also ensuring that area participates in the governance of the whole district. The Village could be considered a “special service area” within the district, which would allow for some unique or specific needs to be addressed within the Village area such as the application of different mill rate factors. Emerald Park could be recognized as a “special service area” as well. While there are many variables that would need to be considered, conceptually, the municipal district model could provide both jurisdictions with opportunities to take advantage of new or additional services and economies of scale. 
 
The municipal district structure could also be an option that may be mutually beneficial for the Town of White City and the RM of Edenwold. The district idea would remove boundary lines between the two communities and ask both jurisdictions to look at the whole district in a new, broader, regional way. From a governance standpoint, a number of decisions would need to be made about a wide variety of municipal matters such as elections (wards/ward boundaries/at-large system, rural vs. urban election structure, etc.), policing, utilities, financial management, budgets, development plans, etc. However, all items could be looked at together, collaboratively with common goals and extensive consultation could be carried out to obtain feedback about the different options to ensure the priorities of the members of the local communities guide the decisions. Implementation plans could be created to see some changes in the short term and others in the longer term, perhaps going through different phases of change. 
 
In many ways, the RM of Edenwold already operates as a municipal district. The RM’s governance model is similar to a municipal district in that the RM governs the urban area of Emerald Park, a number of suburban and peri-urban communities such as Rock Pointe Estates, Copper Sands and Crawford Estates, commercial and industrial developments such as Great Plains Industrial Park and the Butte Business District alongside rural, agricultural areas, which together make up a total of 131 square miles. The RM is diverse and there are different needs and interests in different areas, but the whole area is managed and governed effectively as one. The urban areas and rural areas of the RM are mutually beneficial in many ways. For instance, recreational facilities are developed within the RM of Edenwold to serve all members of the RM’s communities and neighbouring communities. These are usually constructed in urban areas on land that has been provided as “municipal reserve” through the subdivision process. However, they are funded in part through dollars collected as “moneys in lieu of municipal reserve” from subdivisions across the municipality including the rural and commercial/industrial sectors. So, developments from both the urban and rural sectors contribute equitably to the recreational facilities.
 
One example of a facility built through this model is the new Soccer Facility in Emerald Park, which was constructed at the request of local community groups on land provided through urban subdivision and paid for in part from dollars collected from commercial/industrial/country residential/rural subdivisions across the RM. 
 
There has been some confusion regarding the intent of municipal districts. Based on information from the Ministry of Government Relations, municipal districts are intended to be formed voluntarily by two or more municipalities who see a potential benefit in the collaborative approach of joining together to form a new governance structure. They are not intended to be formed to “save” a declining municipality that is at risk of being dissolved due to financial or other concerns. There is a separate process to handle those types of situations. 
 
While a municipal district involving the RM of Edenwold and a neighbouring jurisdiction would be the first in the province of Saskatchewan, there are successful examples to refer to in Alberta . Perhaps the most relevant example is Strathcona County, which is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton and includes the urban area of Sherwood Park as well as suburban and rural/agricultural areas. Like the RM of Edenwold, the district governs the rural, suburban and urban areas concurrently and effectively. As there are no municipal districts formed in Saskatchewan yet, a district in the RM of Edenwold region could lead the way forward in helping to establish the framework for this province. 
 
A Better Way Forward
The RM of Edenwold believes there are options besides annexation that could enable the local region and all municipalities to grow and prosper harmoniously, without creating winners and losers. Rather than create a plan behind closed doors, the RM would prefer to put all options and ideas on the table and consider these together with our neighbours and all those who are potentially affected by any governance-related decisions in the region. However, while the threat of annexation by the Town of White City continues to hang over the RM and our citizens and businesses, it is difficult if not impossible to engage in a real conversation with our neighbours and our communities to consider all issues, ideas and options in a meaningful and productive manner. In order to move forward and put this conflict behind us, we say yes to cooperation, and no to annexation. 
 
Additional Information
 
Province of Saskatchewan – Guide to Establishing a Municipal District
The province of Saskatchewan has recently produced a “Guide to Establishing a Municipal District.” This document provides information regarding the municipal district concept to assist municipalities when considering the creation of a municipal district. It includes a number of frequently asked questions and provides process-related information. Based on this document and consultation with the province, it seems that representatives of the province would be interested and willing to participate collaboratively with any municipalities considering a district to help with procedure, options, considerations and the decision-making process. 
 
Strathcona County
Strathcona County is a successful specialized municipality in Alberta, formed of a large urban area, a number of suburban or peri-urban communities and rural areas. It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton. It provides an example of a municipal district that exists adjacent to a very large provincial capital city and appears to be similar to the RM of Edenwold or a potential municipal district within the RM of Edenwold area. 
 
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is a specialized municipality that includes Fort MacMurray and surrounding suburban communities and rural areas. 

The RM cooperates with area municipalties and has cost-shared several pieces of equipment with area volunteer fire departments including: 

2019 - $25,000 for the Village of Edenwold (50% cost share) to upgrade the 1991 GMC Top Kick Water Truck.
2019 - $90,000 (50% cost share in 2019 and 2020) for Balgonie for the purchase of a new Fire Pumper Truck 
2018 - $75,000 was budgeted for a new water tanker truck for Pilot Butte.
2017 - $126,000 (50% of the cost) of new rapid response fire truck with Pilot Butte.
2016 - $19,800 (38% of the cost) of regional-use ladder truck housed in White City.
2016 - $56,173 (65% of the cost) of new water tanker fire truck for White City.
2013 - $32,000 to retrofit a grass fire rapid response truck for Balgonie.

The RM of Edenwold is committed to cooperation with all our neighbours in order to provide the best possible fire protection services to all residents.

Community Safety Officers
  • The RM of Edenwold was one of the first RMs in the province to engage in the Community Safety Officer program. In fact, the RM sponsored two CSO officers in the first graduating class of 2014 from the Saskatchewan Polytechnic program. Timeline of the program: the CSO program was piloted in 2013, announced by the provincial government with a training component offered through Saskatchewan Polytechnic in 2014 and the RMs CSOs were hired on as staff in 2015. 
  • The RM of Edenwold hired CSOs to address ratepayers concerns. Those concerns included road use by overweight vehicles (protecting costly RM infrastructure), speeding, rural crime issues, public safety and bylaw infractions.
  • The RM of Edenwold works in cooperation with other municipalities in the area (Pilot Butte, Balgonie, RM of Lajord, and was offered to White City and the Village of Edenwold) to provide CSO services by contract.
  • The first court date was held December 14, 2018. Since that date, the RM has been approached by several other towns and rural municipalities and resort villages to also have their matters heard and enforced during the RMs bylaw court date. 
  • The CSOs enforce RM bylaws and issues related to 10 provincial acts including: the Traffic Safety Act, The Trespass to Properties Act, Highways and Transportation Act, and the Alcohol and Gaming Regulation Act. 

Regina ByPass Project

Improving highway safety east of Regina was a top priority for residents and councils in Emerald Park, White City, Pilot Butte, Balgonie and others. Thanks to cooperative efforts and by working with the province new overpasses were built at Highway 46 (Balgonie), Highway 48 (WC) and Highway 362 (Pilot Butte).

This has significantly improved safety for the region and had a dramatic reduction in the number and seriousness of traffic incidents. Cooperation works for better highway safety.

Maintaining streets and roads are vital services for all residents. There are several instances where the RM provides road maintenance, equipment, or manpower to help maintain some roads in in White City.

For example, this spring a total of 15 kms of road is to be dust-controlled throughout the RM including 1.5 kms in the town of White City.

Cooperation between our communities is working to keep our roads and streets open.

Recreation

Ongoing grants from the RM have helped fund numeroud recreation facilties and programs for both White City and RM residents including:

  • White City Splash Park - opened in September 2009 - RM contributed funds and is recognized on rock-plaque at site;
  • École White City School football field - RM contributed funds and maintenance staff to help build and then maintain/irrigate field;
  • White City Skate Park;
  • White City SILS library renovation 2018.

Cooperation is helping keep our communities active.

Working together is building a brand new wastewater treatment plant for residents in both communities.

In 2009 the WCRM158 Wastewater Management Authority was formed to plan and build a new joint wastewater treatment plant. This facility will be online later this year in 2019, providing wastewater treatment for over 4,500 residents in both the RM (Emerald Park & developments north of the No. 1 Highway) and White City, plus businesses north and south of the highway. And, together, we qualified for federal and provincial funding to cover almost 2/3rds of the $22 million project.

Separately, our municipalities may not have qualified for any funding or may have only qualified for a lower amount, but this type of funding is critical for major infrastructure projects like new wastewater facilities and major roadways. Without funding, these projects may not get built, may be built to a lower standard or may be put off for years, resulting in a reduction of economic development opportunities for the affected municipality (or municipalities, as the case may be). Joint projects that benefit more than one jurisdiction are often given higher priority for federal and provincial grants.

Residents of our communities have been clear; they oppose annexation and want to see continued cooperation. The results of cooperation speak for themselves.

The RM has produced two information booklets that help explain the annexation issue, what's at stake, and what you can do to help stop it.

Click here to download the first edition

Click here to download the second edition

Contact

Mailing List: