By Nikki Jamieson
Sunny South News
Picture Butte needs some room to grow.
The Town of Picture Butte in beginning talks with Lethbridge County to annex land needed to grow their industrial area.
“We’re communicating with county council and their intermunicipal committee, and trying to work with them and negotiate with them what they would lilt to see in the annexation process,” said Keith Davis, CAO for the town.
“We’re at the very beginning stages of that, and looking to work with the county so any issues that rise through the annexation process can be addressed, so we can then submit a notice of intent to annex.”
Picture Butte town council had first directed administration to begin the annexation process following closed session of their regular Feb. 11 council meeting.
According to the Intermunicipal Development Plan (IDP) between Lethbridge County and Picture Butte, the town needs to submit a growth study report to the county outlining the why they need to annex the land. The IDP also identifies parcels of land the have been identified for future growth for the town.
While there is room to grow in areas specified for things like residential development, Davis said the the report demonstrated that there is no room left to grow the town’s industrial area, and they require about 20-60 acres to accommodate 25 years of growth for the town.
“The town only wants to annex for industrial lots and highway commercial,” said Keith Davis, CAO for Picture Butte. “We don’t have any available in town, so the town is completely out of industrial lots.”
“There is some lands where there’s homes on there right now, but it’s zoned for retail commercial, but no industrial lots. So if the town, we basically don’t have any land available where someone can come in and do an industrial development,” said Davis.
“We’ve been communicating to them that we’re trying to do this process so we can have land available in the near future, but right now, if they’re not willing to wait, they’re going to go somewhere else, which we don’t want and they don’t want.”
The land the town wishes to annex lies around the northeast boundary of Picture Butte and is about 46 acres in size, which fits what the report says they need.
The town is also able to service that area through existing infrastructure, which Davis calls “appealing”, as the town would not need to install massive outlays for infrastructure for water and sewer.
“It’s sustainable and manageable, so that’s the area we’re kind of focussing on.”
As the town is currently working with the county to work out any issues that may arise in the annexation process, they haven’t submitted a notice of intent yet, although they hope to do so by the end of August.
However, once the notice intent is sent to the Municipal Government Board, who makes the recommendation to the minister, the annexation process will still take some time to complete.
The best case scenario for annexation — an uncontested annexation process — takes about one year to complete.
“The town is trying to just follow the guidelines that have been outlined in the Intermunicipal Development Plan and, you know, is demonstrating it’s industrial growth need. We don’t have it anymore, and we’re hoping it can be a smooth process with the county,” said Davis.
“We need it; the town is losing business because we don’t have any land available, and it’s a high priority and it adds to the sustainable nature of the town, if we can continue to grow not just residentially, but commercially as well. People want to come to Picture Butte, and they can’t right now, so we want to facilitate that.”