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Annexation merit hearing wraps up in Grande Prairie

The nearly two week annexation merit hearing to debate the city and county’s respective bids has officially come to a close.

John Simpson, an annexation consultant for the county, says he’s very pleased with how the county presented its case through out the course of the hearing.

“I think we had a message there, the numbers that they’re talking about as far as 30 years of growth, was a little exaggerated in our opinion, and I think we got that message across. We’re concerned about our landowners, and I think that message got across as well.”

Simpson says a largely contested issue is the annexation terms laid out in an Inter-municipal Development Plan jointly agreed upon by the city and the county back in 2010.

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“I think that the city did a good job of suggesting that the area is in the IDP, and that they need area for future growth, and to that extent we agree with them. We’re just arguing over the size of the area and the timing.”

Michael McIntyre, the city’s Manager of Planning and Development, says the city was definitely surprised and a little disappointed about the county’s interpretation of the IDP.

“Do they still support the IDP, or did they have a change of heart? I think they made it clear in the end that they do support the IDP in terms of the annexation area and the timing of it, however they did have concerns for the landowners, which is only fair.”

Close to 50 landowners took part in the hearing as well, making submissions to the board.

It’s not clear how long it will be before the MGB has a recommendation for the Municipal Affairs Minister.

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