Fort St. John eyes eastern expansion of its border

Fort St. John’s eastern borders may soon expand.

City council will discuss a proposed boundary extension at its regular meeting on Monday, following an Oct. 26 closed meeting where councillors voted to proceed with the extension, and to authorize staff to submit the proposal to the province for approval.

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By ratifying this resolution, which they are set to do Monday, the city can start the formal application process, which includes public consultation with the affected property owners.

Currently, the city has about 2,600 hectares of land within its borders. The proposed expansion would add 482 hectares of land from nearly 50 property owners.

The city wants access to large vacant parcels of land “which will allow these properties to be developed to an urban standard and accommodate future growth,” according to a report from city staff.

It’s unclear as to how many residents the expansion would bring into the city. Calls to city staff were not returned by press time Sunday.

According to a city map, there are three main areas of border expansion.

The first would push the city’s southeastern boundary beyond the Swanson Lumber Road, and includes the Forest Lawn Mobile Home Park. Homes to the south and north of the park would remain in the regional district.

Two other areas would expand the city’s borders to include lands east of the Fort St. John Hospital to the 261 Road, and going south to 100th Avenue, while another chunk of land near the Fish Creek Community Forest is also being considered.

Jaandi Roemer, who lives in Forest Lawn, was unaware of the city’s plans.

Roemer said she would appreciate being able to vote for Fort St. John council, and that the expansion may alleviate some of the costs for the hard water issues she faces. However, she is concerned about having to pay more in property taxes. Right now, she pays between $325 and $350 a year, but, based on her property’s current assessed value, she would have paid between $605 and $652 in taxes and other municipal services if she were in the city.

“I actually have quite a few different feelings (about the news),” said Roemer.

“It’s kind of a little bit too early to really say an exact answer (about whether or not the changes would be good or not). I know for myself I wouldn’t be opposed to it.”

In order to get this land into the city, the city must first go to the Peace River Regional District for comment and the provincial government for approval.

The city has allocated $100,000 in its draft 2016 budget to complete this work.

The city has said it needs more room to accommodate a growing population.

A report to council said the city requires 625 hectares of additional land under a low-growth scenario over the next 50 years.

Earlier this year, a handful of landowners on the city’s eastern edge approached the city seeking inclusion within its borders.

The city put out an advertisement asking if anyone else wanted to to be included. A city report said that about 23 additional property owners replied that they did.

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