Affected property owners to the west and southwest of the current city limits will also receive individualized packages with potential tax notices. One of those property owners, Tracy Bloor, presented at the Peace River Regional District meeting in Dawson Creek today on behalf of others with concerns, asking Area C Director Arthur Hadland to survey all affected on their position.
“The request that they would like is to have our representative initiate the necessary steps to contact the affected landowners to document their opinion, and it’s imperative that you take these steps and be proactive in discerning the position of them,” she told the Regional District board.
The City recently restarted the boundary application process, after its most recent attempt was quashed in February 2012, with the city wanting better clarification on what’s needed for consent of property owners. The City cites Fort St. John’s projected growth and controlling land near the proposed Site C dam as challenges it’s facing, and access to City services like water, sewer and fire protection as benefits for land owners. Those unable to hook up with the city could have access to its lagoons, which will be even more necessary once the Wastewater Transfer Station is closed down at the end of 2014, and get the city resident rate for hauling bulk water.
Bloor says the consensus is that the process so far has been flawed, and that there are more cons than pros to becoming part of the city for most property owners.
“There’s not an availability to us right now to benefit,” she argues. “I don’t see where the benefit is to say, ‘you need to be in the city because we want to clean up this boundary area, we’re not going to offer you any services, but we want your money and we’ll tax you.'”
Hadland was on board with the idea, and said he would be prepared to send out a survey, citing the need for a “fair and open discussion”. However, Director Lori Ackerman pointed out that the province has told the City that there is no outlined process for this type of boundary extension, and that it had no issue with the one the City came up with.
“We’re going forward with a process that allowed us to have a meeting, to collect the questions, and I believe the document that we have is close to 25 pages,” she says. “All of the questions that we have received have been answered and we have the meeting tonight. I recognize that there’s not always going to be people who are happy.”
Ackerman also questioned the role of the Regional District getting involved in a process that’s already been approved.
The decision on whether Hadland should be allowed to circulate a survey was again referred to the next meeting, after he agreed with Ackerman that the residents should be given an opportunity to have their questions answered tonight before saying yes or no.