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Dawson Creek to poll residents on extending boundaries

Councillor says city risks losing money on servicing vacant properties
Three quarter sections would add to the city's land base. Residents will have a chance to voice their opinion on the city's boundary extension in the coming weeks.

Dawson Creek residents will have a chance to veto a proposal to add new lands to the city's boundaries.

Monday's city council meeting saw another development in Wayne and Kerry Hansen's push to bring two agricultural parcels, totalling around 190 hectares, into Dawson Creek's borders.

The city plans to gauge public opinion on the proposal through an alternative approval process, set to begin in the coming weeks. If ten per cent of the electorate (744 voters) voice concerns about the proposal, council has the option of sending it to a formal referendum.  

The three quarter-sections, located south of the Dangerous Goods Route and north of the Hart Highway, would make it easier for industrial developers and oilfield businesses to operate out of Dawson Creek, proponents say.

Coun. Paul Gevatkoff spoke in favour, saying a lack of industrial land was factor stifling investment in the city.

"You cannot have that without land," he said. "The process of acquiring land for industrial development is a long-term process."

He said adding the land to city boundaries could make it easier to remove from the province's Agricultural Land Reserve. However, city staff say the Agricultural Land Commission, the province's farmland regulator, has shot down applications that are not flagged as industrial lands in city development plans. The city is in the process of updating that document.  
Coun. Mark Rogers said he couldn't support adding land to the city's boundaries, saying there is already vacant land available.  

He added that servicing roads to the properties, which could remain empty for the foreseeable future, would cost more than $60,000 over five years.

"I can't support citizens spending thousands of dollars annually for road maintenance with no guarantees it's going to be developed."

The city will release details on the alternative approval process in the coming days.