The City of Lloydminster and the County of Vermilion River have approved a new Joint Regional Growth Study (JRGS) for advancing long-term growth. Both councils voted to adopt the 2019 JRGS earlier this week to serve as a guiding document. It includes a beneficial growth scenario, informed by comprehensive planning and technical analysis, for the area in and around Lloydminster. Mayor Gerald Aalbers is happy to see productive engagement from both sides of the table going forward.

“Both our municipalities are looking at a 35-year horizon and determining how we might best position ourselves for effective residential, commercial and industrial growth,” said Aalbers. “The extraordinary spirit of collaboration among leaders at the city and the county has been beneficial to this process and we look forward to continuing a productive dialogue with our municipal neighbours.”

The study estimates that, over the next 32 years, Lloydminster will need 1,087.8 hectares of land that can be developed. The study also found that some areas surrounding the city are easier to service and develop than others. Lloydminster has seen a moderate to high level of growth over the years and the study recommends the city and the county consider options allowing adequate land for urban growth under the medium-high growth scenario to inform the allocation of lands in the city’s annexation proposal.

The approval of the JRGS means good things for any annexation proposal the city decides to make. Each annexation proposal may be be contested or uncontested, the former becoming a challenge between two municipalities. Aaron Buckingham, city councillor and deputy mayor, believes the adoption of the study on both sides is a big step at avoiding future problems ahead of an annexation proposal.

“When you can have both municipalities come together to discuss the growth and agree on those terms, you take that form, send it to the municipal government board for approval, that becomes an uncontested annexation. That’s what you want,” said Buckingham. “You don’t want it to drag on longer than it has, you don’t want to have the extra expense that goes along with it. It’s a real testament to everyone involved in this process; both our council, their council, both administrations, getting it to this point.”

County of Vermilion River Reeve Dale Swyripa said residents, landowners and other key stakeholder within the proposed growth areas will have the chance to participate in conversation around annexation and municipal development. Over the next three months, the city and county will provide an opportunity for the public to engage with councillors and administration regarding growth for both municipalities. Reeve Swyripa said he’s pleased with the process thus far and commends those involved.

“The overarching goal of everyone involved in this process is to set the stage for sustainable, mutually beneficial growth that enhances quality of life for current and future residents of this region,” said Reeve Swyripa. “Everyone at the table acknowledges the respective growth needs and are working collaboratively to accommodate strategic, achievable growth scenarios.”