'It ain't simple': Edmonton releases new details in Leduc County annexation

After more than three years of negotiations, Edmonton is inching closer to annexing two tracts of land in Leduc County.

In finalizing its application to annex parts of Leduc County, Edmonton turns to public for last word

Edmonton mayor Don Iveson answered questions at an annexation information session in Leduc on Thursday. (CBC)

After more than three years of negotiations, the City of Edmonton is inching closer to annexing two tracts of land in Leduc County.

The county committed to signing off on an application to the province's municipal government board by June. 

A Thursday information session in Leduc was a chance for the people who already live in Leduc County to ask questions about what it means to become an Edmontonian.

"Looking at it from the outside, you think it's simple," John Whaley said.

"But once you get on the inside, it ain't simple. There's just too many things at play, there's too many things involved and it does take time for everyone to understand and hopefully come to a compromise."

The city of Edmonton plans to submit its application to annex two parts of Leduc County, labelled in blue, by October. (Supplied/City of Edmonton)

Last November, Edmonton scaled back a more ambitious plan to include land west of the Edmonton International Airport and south of Highway 19 in the annexation.

Instead, the city plans to take over the area around 50th Street, between Beaumont and Edmonton, as well as another stretch of land between Edmonton International Airport and the city.

"The city and county are working really well together in a way we didn't always in the past," Edmonton mayor Don Iveson told reporters at the information session.

"A lot of it is about finding common growth and some compromise. Did the city get everything that we were maybe hoping for at the beginning? No. Is the county going to get everything that they might have hoped for at the beginning? No."

'They've been in limbo-land'

Iveson estimated the new space will provide up for to 40 years of urban growth for south Edmonton. The land will be densely developed to avoid spilling over into surrounding farmland, he said.

"But the city still does need some room to grow for both residential and non-residential activity," Iveson added.

People living in parts of Leduc County that have been proposed for annexation will have half a century to adjust to the city's taxes. 

The 50-year transition period for city taxes, Iveson said, is part of a series of stipulations that will be put in place to help those with land in the annexation area to adjust. 

Leduc County farmers, for instance, will be allowed to continue using their land for agriculture while paying whichever tax rate is lower — Edmonton's or the existing rate of Leduc County.

'People don't like change'

"They've been in limbo-land for a lot of years now, wondering what's going to happen," Whaley said. "People don't like change, generally, and it takes a while for everyone to come on board and understand what's going on."

Other stipulations for the area include:

  • Use of firearms will not be allowed within city limits, including in newly-annexed areas
  • Farmers can continue to use their land for agriculture 
  • Business will be required to get a license within six months of annexation, though fees will be waived for the first five years
  • School district boundaries will be determined by the province, separate from the annexation process
  • Pet owners will be required to get a license within six months, though fees will be waived for the first five years
  • Roads will be maintained at the service level provided within Leduc County

Whether the city applies to annex the Edmonton International Airport will be determined through a collaboration between the city, county and airport. That negotiation is expected to conclude in July.

​"It matters less whose flag flies over the airport," Iveson said. "It matters more that it can contribute the most to economic growth."

Iveson said the city will use public feedback to put finishing touches on its application to the province, which he plans to submit before the next municipal election in October.

"All of this will feed into the city's final application," he said.

The next information session is on May 2 at the Derrick Golf and Winter Club in Edmonton.