At a June 19th meeting, the Council for the Resort Village of Kannata Valley (K.V.) made a motion to annex condominium development, Rock Ridge (R.R.). R.R. is in the R.M. of Longlaketon.
The recorded vote was Yes - Mayor Don Sangster, Councillor Tom Fink, Councillor Colin Hildred. No - Councillor Kyle Klevgaard and Councillor Louis Desautels.
In September, both Councillor Desautels and Councillor Hildred resigned. They were replaced with former Mayor and Councillor- Bob Gordon and newcomer - Dustin Plett, who were both acclaimed.
We contacted the R.M. of Longlaketon for comment. The R.M.’s Chief Administrative Officer, Courtney Huber, said, “The Resort Village of Kannata Valley (K.V.) and the subdivision of Rock Ridge (R.R.) approached the R.M. council about R.R. being annexed into K.V. due to their proximity and shared interests. As it stands, K.V. was going to be obtaining signatures of Rock Ridge ratepayers that are in favour of annexing with K.V. to determine if there is a clear majority to move ahead, to-date we do not know if this has been done or not and everything is at a stand still.”
Minutes from the K.V.’s August 22nd AGM show, they were looking at the feasibility of the annexation. The annexation would increase K.V.’s population to over 100 permanent residents, which give K.V. opportunities for future grants and other government assistance.
There were questions from the floor asking for more information on the annexation and financial analysis.
In July, K.V. sent out a newsletter to its residents “to provide information and correct rumours circulating that have caused concern…”
The newsletter said the annexation wasn’t a done deal and that they needed to meet with the R.M. to find out their position and try to negotiate an agreement. It went on to say that if there wasn’t an acceptable agreement, K.V. could go to a third party for mediation or stop the annexation process.
The newsletter continued that K.V. believes they have a good case to go to the Municipal Board for arbitration. “Council believes we have a strong case for this boundary alteration with little or no compensation being most fair since little or no service has been provided by the R.M. of Longlaketon to Rock Ridge ratepayers. Rock Ridge initiated this idea with our previous Council because of much unhappiness with considerable taxes paid with almost nothing in services provided.” If the R.V. didn’t get a favourable arbitration decision, they could end the annexation and remain as they are.
The R.V. stated they would keep residents informed as they could and said they wouldn’t finalize anything without majority support.
The newsletter set out the advantages for K.V. residents. Including an increase of their tax base of $51,000/year would be equivalent to 24.5% of their current taxes and 20% of taxes combined at their present mill rate. Unconditional grant increases, a population increase to 120, additional services and stabilization of the tax rate.
The R.V. acknowledged additional costs with bringing in R.R. Fire protection, police, lagoon fees and other services; however, K.V. believed they would still have a net gain of $40,000/year.
The newsletter also set out what they saw as the benefits to Rock Ridge. R.R. would receive all of the services K.V. residents receive and some services they already receive but currently have fees attached. Some of the new services would be the use of boat launches, snow removal and grass cutting in a public area.
It also said, “They will get to vote and run for office in the community they live in and share common issues with instead of a R.M. which has little involvement in solving their needs.”
The newsletter answered questions around how much compensation the Council is willing to pay to the R.M. “. The Rock Ridge Condo board has assured us that they would contribute substantially to such compensation if any is agreed to.”
K.V. Mayor Don Sangster addressed a perceived conflict of interest as his son has a residence at Rock Ridge. He said that because neither he nor his son would benefit personally and would receive the same benefits as any other community member, it didn’t fit what the municipalities act defined as a conflict of interest.
Because of concerns over communication with the Resort Village, K.V. residents petitioned for a public meeting held on October 17th in Silton.
Then, on October 25th K.V. council held a special meeting to address the questions and concerns raised at the public meeting. Some of the discussions included the annexation.
Councillor Kyle Klevgaard noted K.V. had not had a response from R.R. to show that a majority of R.R. residents wanted to join K.V. One of the councillors said they would not divulge all of their cards going into negotiations with the R.M. They noted that the R.M. had said it would cost K.V. in the range of $750,000 in costs to the R.M. to annex R.R. Councillor Klevgaard said it was not realistic if it was that high.
I spoke with the R.M. of Longlaketon Reeve, Ray Wild, who said they would not oppose the annexation, but they would first need to see a clear majority of support for the annexation by Rock Ridge residents. He said, “when we say the majority, we are not talking 51% you have to come to us with 65 or 70%, a two thirds majority that they want to go.” He added that they had received information from some Kannata Valley residents that they were opposed to the annexation and would also need to see a clear mandate from their residents.
While K.V. Council has said they believe they should pay little to no money for the annexation. Reeve Wild said, “there has been precedence set provincially when an annexation takes place that compensation is required by the jurisdiction that annexes property up to 15 times the taxable amount that you receive paid over ten years. For example, with Saskatoon and the R.M. of Corman Park Swift Current and surrounding municipalities, etc. They are under the illusion that they would have to compensate (the R.M.) zero dollars.”
Wild said, “…ballpark, let’s say we use $50,000 taxation for Rock Ridge for a year. We are talking about the municipal portion. So, times 15 that’s $750,000. Then you have to get agreement from Municipal Affairs. Because what’s (K.V.) rational to annex a portion of another R.M. or town? It’s for expansion. When you annex the idea is to expand your village, town, city, whatever you have. In this case in Rock Ridge there are only 6 undeveloped lots. So, they can’t really expand.”
We contacted Mayor Don Sangster for comment. He said, “We don’t agree with the position that the R.M. has with regard to the level of compensation.” Sangster said of the examples the R.M.’s Reeve referenced, there had been a tremendous amount of infrastructure investments made, such as roads. And the costs were related to repayment for the infrastructure. “So, the only situation that’s involving Longlaketon is a tax loss. Because they put not a cent, not one cent into the Rock Ridge development.”
“It’s at a pause and what is out there in the newsletter and in the document that was developed by Collin [Hildred] and approved by council to go out to our ratepayers, that’s our position at this stance,” said Sangster.
Newsletter # 2
Responding to the Mayor’s comment. Reeve Wild said, “they think that we as the R.M. of 219 didn’t have any development costs.” Wild said that what typically happens is that the developer incurs all costs, makes all of the money then rolls it over into the municipality. Wild says then the municipality assumes all responsibility for the maintenance of the roads. “I am really getting tired of the path that they keep saying that we the R.M. of 219 didn’t incur any development costs. Let’s go one step farther. What did you do as the Village of Kannata Valley, what costs did you incur to take that development over? Absolutely zero. And that’s where we are coming from. The only reason historically that development permits were granted was that the R.M. councils at the time thought that they could broaden their tax base. So, for them to come at us and say that we didn’t incur any development costs is totally irrelevant.”
Wild said that while the R.M. didn’t assume any development costs, K.V. didn’t either.
“So why should they benefit from the taxation of just assuming the tax revenue and then also the grants that they receive from the provincial government is population based. Why would we give that up? We are not that stupid.”
Wild said the R.M. doesn’t want to negotiate through the media but doesn’t want R.R. residents to go in with blinders on. “Because there will be compensation. And so don’t try and blow smoke up the rear end to the residents there by saying [K.V.] plans on assuming responsibility of taking it over and it’s not going to cost us anything. There is a cost to everything. We are not rolling over and letting them take over this subdivision or any other subdivision without being fairly compensated and they have to understand that.”
Attempts to reach a representative from Rock Ridge condo association have not been responded to.
Jennifer Argue, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Last Mountain Times