Council Annexation FAQ

Annexation FAQ

1. What is annexation?

Annexation is the process for a municipality to redefine its boundaries in order to comprehensively plan for the orderly, efficient and cost-effective development of lands within its jurisdiction. Properties within an annexation area experience a change in jurisdiction from one municipality to another. Annexation does not however change ownership rights and is not necessarily undertaken to facilitate immediate development, but rather to secure lands for future growth.

2. Why is the City of Cold Lake proposing annexation?

The City has to consider its projected growth potential over the next 50 years and plan to accommodate the growth demands in an orderly and economical manner. Annexation allows the City to meet its future growth needs and to comprehensively plan for the orderly, efficient and cost-effective development of lands within its jurisdiction.

Cold Lake’s annexation is necessary to help the City better unify Cold Lake North and Cold Lake South in the short to medium term, optimize infrastructure investments, strengthen its tax base, expand opportunities for business development in appropriate locations to support the oil sands industry, and have a balanced mixture of land uses. This will ensure that Cold Lake remains sustainable in the delivery of services to its residents and businesses.

3. How much land is the City annexing?

The City is proposing to annex 11 quarter sections of land.

4. Which lands are the City proposing to annex?

The proposed annexation consists of two areas:

  • Western annexation area: Five quarter sections on the west side of Highway 28 between 55 Avenue in Cold Lake South and Highway 55 in Cold Lake North; and

  • Eastern annexation area: Six quarter sections one half-mile east of Highway 28 between 50 Avenue in Cold Lake South and Forest Heights in Cold Lake north, including the museum site west of African Lake.

Click here for a map of the proposed lands.

5. Why is the City seeking this much land?

The City engaged ISL Engineering and Land Services to study and determine the City’s future growth needs over the next 50 years. The ISL Growth Study determined the City has a limited land supply to meet its long-term future growth needs, and requires additional lands to better connect Cold Lake North and Cold Lake South into a single urban community.  This 11-quarter section annexation is sufficient to satisfy the City’s short to medium-term future growth needs.

6. Why is the City’s annexation area smaller than was originally proposed in 2014?

The City originally sought to annex 20.5 quarter sections of land to meet its long-term future growth needs.  The City and the Municipal District (MD) of Bonnyville reached an agreement to annex just over 50% of these lands to meet the City’s short and medium-term future growth needs.  The City and the MD will discuss the City’s remaining long-term future growth needs in future intermunicipal planning exercises.

7. How long will the annexation process take?

The annexation process began in early 2014, with an agreement reached between the City and the Municipal District in mid-2017.  Upon submission of the final annexation application to the Municipal Government Board, we anticipate the province will make a decision on the application within a year.

8. What stage is the process at now?

The City of Cold Lake conducted public consultation with both the affected landowners and the public at large in 2014. The City of Cold Lake also completed negotiations with the Municipal District of Bonnyville in 2017, having arrived at an agreement surrounding the terms of the proposed annexation. The City is now in the process of obtaining feedback on the annexation agreement from affected owners, and has scheduled a public open house on January 24, 2018 (5:30 to 8:30 pm).  

9. What are the next steps and who makes the final decision?

The annexation application will be finalized for submission to the Municipal Government Board following the completion of the public open house. The Board will consider the annexation application and, if necessary, may conduct a public hearing before preparing a written report with its recommendations to the Minister of Municipal Affairs. Ultimately, the final decision on whether to approve the City’s proposed annexation will be made by the Provincial Cabinet.

10. What role do landowners play in the annexation process?

The City is committed to ensuring that all affected landowners and mineral rights owners have an opportunity to be fully informed. Owners with property located within the proposed annexation area have been encouraged to meet with the City and are engaged in the process so that their questions regarding annexation can be raised and the potential impacts of annexation discussed.

11. What role do Cold Lake residents play in the annexation process?

The City is committed to ensuring that Cold Lake residents have an opportunity to be fully informed. Residents have been encouraged to attend public open houses through newspaper advertisements, radio announcements, and the City’s website, and are encouraged to contact the City's Annexation Project Manager throughout the process to provide comments or ask questions.

12. What are the impacts on landowners?

Annexation is not the expropriation of land. Land ownership is not impacted. In an annexation, only the municipal jurisdiction changes. If the annexation is approved:

  • lands in the annexation area will receive services from the City of Cold Lake instead of MD of Bonnyville No. 87;

  • land use and development approvals will be transferred to the City; and

  • landowners will pay municipal property taxes to the City of Cold Lake instead of the MD of Bonnyville No. 87.

13. What are the impacts on mineral rights?

Annexation is not an expropriation of mineral rights. Mineral rights are not impacted by a change in municipal jurisdiction as land use development can occur in a rural or urban municipality, and the approval to mine, or to access any minerals and subsurface resources remains with the Province of Alberta.

14. Will I be able to continue using my land in the same manner as prior to annexation? Will I be forced to develop my land?

Owners within the annexation area will be able to continue to use their land in the same manner as prior to annexation. It will be up to owners when and whether to develop their land.

15. Will services that the MD of Bonnyville No. 87 is currently providing to the annexation area be affected?

The City will review the services being provided by the MD to impacted landowners and assess whether these services are consistent with those provided to existing City residents. Once assessed, a decision will be made whether existing MD services will be maintained or amended. The City of Cold Lake currently provides an equitable level of service to all residents.

16. Will my taxes increase if I am annexed into the City?

To assist landowners with the transition from MD to City tax rates, the City is proposing that the lands in the annexation area will be taxed at the lower of the tax rates established by the MD and City for 50 years unless the landowner subdivides or rezones their land, or their land is connected to city water and sewer services. This type of arrangement has been successfully implemented in other jurisdictions.

17. How was the financial restitution amount being paid to the MD determined?

The 5-year financial impact on the MD stemming from the proposed annexation was determined to be approximately $355,000. This amount is comprised of the annual operating impacts, plus one-time impacts, extended for a 5-year period, and then discounted to current dollars. The annexation agreement between the City and the MD includes a one-time payment of $500,000 from the City to the MD. This amount is approximately $145,000 greater than the 5-year total described above. It was determined this differential is reasonable given the additional costs that would have been incurred by the City if an agreement had not been reached and a disputed annexation was brought before the Municipal Government Board.

18. How can I stay informed?

Updates will be posted on the City’s website at www.coldlake.com and in local media.

19. Who do I contact if I have any questions about the annexation process?

The City has assigned an Annexation Project Manager to assist with any enquiries relating to the annexation process. The contact person is:

Howard Pinnock, RPP, MCIP
General Manager, Planning and Development
hpinnock@coldlake.com
780.594.4494 extension 7927