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Municipal Boundary Extensions

 

The boundary of every municipality is defined in the document that incorporated the municipality known as Letters Patent. The boundary is permanent but it can be changed on occasion by amending the description to add or delete properties. Since Letters Patent are brought into effect by Cabinet order, the boundary description can only be changed by Cabinet order.
 

The reasons for changing municipal boundaries are many and are often initiated by property owners who want their parcel of land to be included within a municipality. Typically the property owners want to receive services that are operated and administered by the municipality such as water, sewer, fire protection and garbage collection. In some cases, the property owner may feel that the municipality has land use policies that are more suitable for the area than the ones put in place by the regional district.
 

The province has a guiding principle that communities can choose how they are governed. Therefore, the majority of citizens living within an area proposed for inclusion within a municipal boundary must consent to (or not oppose) the proposed extension. In addition, The Local Government Act (section 20) requires that citizens of the municipality will have the opportunity to object to the proposal. If at least 10% of the electors within the municipality request a vote on the proposed boundary extension, then the municipality cannot proceed unless it obtains the support of those electors in a referendum.
 

Unless the area to be added to a municipality is being removed from lands that are located in an adjoining municipality, the area is located within an electoral area of the regional district. Although not prescribed in legislation, the regional district has an important role in the boundary extension process. The regional district is the local government for areas outside municipal boundaries and they may provide services in the area. Consequently, regional district interests must be considered and municipalities should make their best efforts to accommodate those interests. However, the regional district does not have a veto on municipal boundary extensions.
 

Municipalities planning to request a boundary extension take the lead in consulting with citizens, the regional district and others whose interests might be affected by a boundary extension. This information is then submitted to the ministry so that the application can be assessed against the extension criteria. If the application meets the requirements, an amendment to the Letters Patent is drafted and the proposal is forwarded to the minister and to Cabinet for a decision.
 

The Criteria define the technical and process requirements for a boundary extension to proceed. Generally, a proposal must meet the following basic technical requirements:

  • The area proposed to be included within the municipality must be contiguous with the existing municipal boundary;
  • The proposed municipal boundary should not divide legal parcels;
  • Roads and road rights-of-way adjacent to the boundary extension area should be included in the municipality;
  • Indian reserves will not be included within municipal boundaries; and
  • The ministry prefers to see one proposal for a logical block of parcels, rather than a number of incremental boundary extensions over time to include the same area.

A boundary extension is different from a municipal restructure project because a relatively small number of properties or residents are affected and it will not have a significant impact on the regional district or the municipality.
 

 

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