The Town of Strathmore has agreed to support a request for annexation of a half section of land on the northwest corner of town along range road 254 and township road 244.
The Telsec Property Corporation (landowners within the annexation boundary) requested the annexation.
“This Oxbow development has been contemplated for many years,” said Kristi Beunder, a planning consultant with Civic Works, a specialized Calgary-based planning and design consulting firm. “We had a letter from the Town of Strathmore allowing us to connect to their water system but not their sanitary system. If this land stays sitting in the county and not annexed in the town, we would have to come up with a solution for the waste water,” she said.
If the annexation takes place, the land use is envisioned to be residential land and can support 1,500-2,000 dwelling units which is approximately 3,105-4,140 future residents. There will also be a small scale local commercial node developed on the land.
The existing Oxbow Golf Course will not be moved and will still be available for use.
“I was really concerned about [whether] the golf course would be staying and it is,” said Hillview resident, Jack Worth. “I was also really concerned about the existing wetland but I was told they are keeping that or else moving it elsewhere, but they aren’t getting rid of it.”
Should the annexation be supported by the municipal government, it will move on to the provincial Minister of Municipal Affairs for approval. The whole process can move along quickly if uncontested.
An open house was held Jan. 10, and although many questions were answered, some people are still unsatisfied about what is happening and worried that not everything has been thought through.
“I live here (on the north side of township road 244, directly north of the proposed annexation area) and we rent out our land to farmers whose only access to both sides of our property, which has a coulee through it, is from township road 244,” said county resident, Jennifer Corbin, also stating that the north boundary road, which runs through the north end of Strathmore, has a 75 per cent ban on it all year long.
The 75 per cent road ban means that farmers farming on the north side of the proposed annexation area would not be able to move their trucks and equipment onto the roads and would have no legal access to their fields. They would either need to constantly apply for daily permits to move their farm equipment on and off the property, or else sneak onto their own land and risk getting ticketed for using the banned road.
Corbin is also concerned about the maintenance of the road. Currently, the road is maintained by the county; once annexed it would be maintained by the Town of Strathmore.
“That road (township road 244) is getting busier and busier every day,” said Corbin. “During a snow storm, the road in front of my house, which is taken care of by the county, is usually cleared twice before I even leave for work. And the road east that the town takes care of won’t be plowed for hours. That road is a death trap,” she said, adding that she hopes the town will have enough employees to maintain the extra stretch of highway once the land is annexed.
“For me this annexation is dependent on this road,” said Brenda Knight, division five councillor for Wheatland County. “It’s the developer that requested [the land] to be annexed, not the county, nor the town.”
“I would like to talk with the town and show them that we can use the tax revenue (from the proposed annexed land) to make sure that township road 244 is a good road. It needs to be paved instead of a cold mix, and either be a heavy haul road or be non-bannable,” she said.
Knight said developers from the different communities on the north end of town must all contribute to help build a good and safe paved road. They were originally supposed to go back later and fix up the roads instead of leaving it a cold mix, but she said that never happened.
“For me this is not a hard task. This is between the developers and the municipalities. This road should be built all the way out and go right around the Town of Strathmore,” said Knight. “Then there will be a bypass route that can be used by truckers and farmers, or if an accident happens on Hwy. 1.”
Beunder noted that a similar situation arose between Okotoks and M.D. of Foothills.
“338 Avenue on the north side of Okotoks is a designated truck route for the same reason. There are a lot of empty trucks and gravel trucks and agricultural trucks running through there,” said Beunder, adding that the roads are a function of development itself. “When physical development occurs, [developers] are required to upgrade the roads as the communities are occupied.”
She added that when a community gets to a certain trip rate, i.e. number of vehicles on the road, it triggers the infrastructure improvement.
“We need to make sure as elected officials that these roads, when they’re built, are built right,” said Knight. “They need to be non-bannable so there is a clear access road around the town, and that they are big and wide so that the residents who use them are safe.
“It’s not about who uses what roads because we are all taxpayers. Currently that road is not built for the volume that is going through there right now,” she added. “There should be a benefit to all residents, regardless of what is happening.”