Disagreement between City Council and the RM of Estevan regarding the appropriation of over 5 quarters of land north of town has resulted in things going to the next level.
What does that entail? The City's Land Development Officer, Adam Nordquist laid out the picture.
"We are now going based off provincial guidelines. So the first step was a notice of intent that we gave at the council meeting. Essentially there's a month's period now, where the RM or any of the affected land owners can come and object to our proposal. In the case of one, we would move to mediation, appointed from the province, and generally that is to help the city and affected party come to an agreement on our own terms first. However, if that should fail, we submit an application to the Saskatchewan Municipal Board, they will host a hearing, and render a decision."
"Should we reach an agreement, we can simply submit that straight to the Ministry for approval," he added.
Looking at the map provided, one can see acreages and developed property on the land being debated. That has posed some concern for those residents, and Nordquist took a shot at laying those misgivings to rest.
"The annexation process is strictly an administrative change, so we're literally changing the boundaries of the City of Estevan. Generally, landowners will not see any changes right now. The City has put forward a policy where, for those affected lands, we will match the RM tax rate until such a point that they choose either connect to City services or they sell their farmland to develop it into a residential subdivision."
"What we are aiming for with this annexation is to secure long term land reserves so that we can develop our residential and industrial land in an orderly fashion. As part of the process, all the landowners have been notified, stating that this is not going to affect their title in any way, their taxes will not change, and any kind of land use or permits that they have existing on the property will be grandfathered into the city," he stated.
This means that, if they so choose, they could keep farming the land and such, whatever they have been doing. However, the city would be able to install policies regarding new development, an example being to prevent a residential area being next to a factory.
"All the power is still in the landowner's hands, if they decide to sell or develop or whatever they choose," Nordquist said.
"Essentially, anything they are currently using the land for, they can continue."
An open house is planned on September 28th in the Multi Purpose Room at Affinity Place. Starting at 7:00 PM, it will be an informal information session with displays and time set aside for questions and answers. A formal public hearing will also be coming down the line, where people can officially voice an objection to the matter.