The White City Emerald Park Business Association shared several concerns with RM of Edenwold staff regarding the proposed development of the Municipal District of Edenwold at the association’s monthly meeting Nov. 10.
Keith Comstock, a public policy consultant from the University of Regina, first spoke on behalf of the RM, providing an overview of the process and implications of the ongoing amalgamation talks between the Village of Edenwold and the RM, which would create the province’s first Municipal District. In particular, Comstock spoke to goals of improved service delivery, better utilization of resources and opportunities for economic growth under a new governance structure.
However, several members of the White City/ Emerald Park Business Association expressed concern that the restructuring will actually have the opposite effect.
“I guess my question is, what value does the Village of Edenwold add to the RM?” asked Megan Byers, chief financial officer for the All-Rite Group of Companies. “This opens a lot of uncertainty to business owners and honestly it scares me a little. We already know we have utility issues. The biggest incentive for businesses is the decreased tax rate here. How is this going to affect that? If we can’t keep taxes low then we are no longer competitive in the market.”
RM of Edenwold chief operating officer Sameh Nashed replied expressing his support for maintaining low taxation rates.
“To some extent tax levels are not in our hands. We can’t always decide that. We are competitive right now though to other places and we know we need to keep that,” he said. “The decrease in administration costs through this project will hopefully reflect through our tax rates.”
Local land developer Ben Kuzmicz echoed Byers’ concerns.
“The RM already has a great business sector. Why would we mess with what we already have? Uncertainty is not good for business, especially with all the businesses that are intending to come into the area. This could actually scare some of them off. This sounds like a great deal for the Village of Edenwold and, don’t get me wrong, that’s great, but why mess with what has taken us so long to build and develop here?”
Comstock spoke to this matter by further explaining the merger process.
“Everything will be business as usual,” he said. “We are not intending to put anything on hold and that includes welcoming in new businesses. Each part of the implementation plan has been thoroughly prioritized with an intended timeline. Until new policies are put in place, the old ones will remain in order to ensure everything continues to operate as it needs to. This is not something that is going to take years, much of the planning is already done.”
The Municipal District initiative began in 2020 and Nashed says that over the last year many of the details have already been considered.
“We already have a great deal of the work done,” he said. “The Municipal Restructuring Agreement will be submitted to the provincial government in December. It’s unclear how long the review process will take, as this is the first one, but we are hoping for only a couple months. After that we expect the implementation process to be complete in a year. Pending government approval, the merger is a go.”
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