Beaumont voters fear becoming 'suburb of Edmonton', candidate says
Land dispute with Edmonton a key election issue for town south of Edmonton
When Beaumont voters go to the polls to choose a new mayor on Monday, many will be thinking about how the town's next leader will deal with its big city neighbour, Edmonton.
The municipalities are embroiled in a tussle over six square kilometres of land separating them, with both Beaumont and Edmonton arguing they have the best plan for the land straddling 50th Street.
Now, the question is: How to solve the standoff?
"The stakes are Beaumont continuing to remain an independent town and not becoming a suburb of Edmonton," said Bruce LeCren, who is running for the mayor's job after serving two terms on council.
The mayoral race is wide open, with Mayor Camille Bérubé, a long-time fixture on city council, not seeking re-election. Many of the mayoral candidates have previous city council experience.
All the mayoral candidates said they're hearing about the issue during the campaign.
"We've got a history of not playing well with our neighbours," said Patrick Kobly, who added that the issue has been hanging over Beaumont for too long and should be a priority for the next mayor.
Kobly said his strategy would be to try to rebuild the town's relationship with Edmonton.
"We need to build up those relationships as quickly as we can and get on the same page for a change and work together," he said.
Kerri Bauer, a current councillor running for the top job, says a new era of collaboration is needed not just with Edmonton, but all surrounding municipalities.
And John Stewart, another former councillor, agrees.
"The previous council alienated everyone," Stewart said.
Mayoral candidate K.C. Sommers could not be immediately reached.
But that means the future mayor of Beaumont will have to make efforts as well, he said.
"We have given Beaumont every opportunity to work with us on the joint planning of those nine quarter sections of land," Iveson said.
Edmonton can put better infrastructure in place for sewage and storm water, which would protect Edmonton taxpayers in the long-run, Iveson said.
"If we arrive at a bilateral decision with Beaumont before our hearing, we can adjust our annexation ask accordingly," he said.
Smith said an initial annexation ask by Edmonton under former mayor Stephen Mandel was problematic, but further discussions with Iveson's administration went better.
"I think we really set the tone with regional collaboration with Edmonton," Smith said. "There were huge compromises on both sides, but it's really good for both sides."