Peace River Regional District Area C Director Arthur Hadland was also in attendance, by invitation of the City.
Ackerman says the Ministry complimented the City on its approach, saying Fort St. John has done more consultation on its application to date than other municipalities in its situation have done.
“We asked if there was anything that we missed, could anything have been done differently, or could they recommend anything be done differently, and it was really nice to hear from the Ministry that they said that Fort St. John should be commended for the comprehensive approach that was taken.”
Those comments coupled with the international and national awards received for the Let’s Talk Site C campaign, on which the City modeled its boundary extension consultation, Ackerman says she feels confident about the process.
Once suggestion Ackerman says the Ministry did have, was that if phasing in property taxes is used as a mitigation measure for affected property owners, it should be done over a five year period, instead of 20 years as other community have done.
“[That] made it extremely difficult to manage because property can change hands so many times over 20 years, and they would prefer a five [year] window maximum.”
Having the sale of land automatically trigger regular city tax rates to come into play is also advisable, instead of with the sale of a business.
“If we’re halfway through the phase-in, and there was a rezoning or a subdivision or a sale of the land, it would automatically trigger it to go to the city rates.”
The City has also been urging the Ministry to implement stronger guiding principles for communities looking at boundary extension, as there are very few to go by, other than that the majority of citizens included in the area not oppose the extension and that citizens of the municipality must also have the opportunity to object.
Ackerman says it’s also important to think ahead to possible future expansion plans, so that they can mirror what’s being done this time around.
“We have landowners on the east side of the community that are requesting incorporation,” she says. “So when we look at what mitigation measures we may use or we may be recommending for this one, how would those play out on the other side of town?”
City council will be receiving a report on the boundary extension at its meeting on October 28, which will include feedback from its consultation. It will then have to decide whether to send it back for more information and research, meaning it’s possible an application may not be made until early 2014, if at all.