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Subdivision could exhaust town services

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services

Hay River (May 29/06) - The Town of Hay River has concerns about a proposed residential development just outside its boundaries.

The private development is being considered for a 153-acre area along the south side of Highway 5, east of the Hay River.

According to developer Duncan Cooke, who is working for land owners Eileen and George Collins, the project would have 45 lots in all ranging in size from 1.75 to three acres, plus three areas set aside as parks. It would be completed in stages and include 25 riverside lots.

In a May 9 letter to the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) outlining the town's concerns, Mayor Diana Ehman wrote, "The Vale Drive Estates Subdivision is the size of a small community."

Ehman wrote that the drain on Hay River's water, sewer, solid waste management, emergency services and recreational resources would create a burden on the community's existing and future infrastructure.

At a town council meeting earlier this month, some councillors wondered if the municipality would be wise to annex the area before any development took place and thereby be able to collect property taxes to pay for services. MACA is now responsible for collecting property taxes in the area.

Coun. Robert Bouchard noted that in the past, the town had to annex two developments - Paradise Gardens and Delancey Estates - that were created outside municipal boundaries.

Such developments just outside the community only cause grief, he said. "Why not control that right off the hop?"

Otherwise, Bouchard said the town might be forced to annex the new development in 10 years or so.

Cooke, with Arcan Construction, says a development application has gone to MACA.

"The town is one of many entities that are being provided the information that was contained in the application," he said, noting other groups will include K'atlodeeche First Nation, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and the territorial departments of Transportation, and Environment and Natural Resources.

"I'm sure all of the concerns being raised by the Town of Hay River will be addressed through the proper channels," Cooke said. "Only once we've satisfied all of the regulatory requirements can we expect a land-use permit for development."

Cooke said there may be a way of dispersing property taxes collected by MACA to pay for direct or indirect services from the Town of Hay River.

It will be at least a full year before construction of the project begins.

Ehman said she has discussed the issue with MACA, and has been advised to address the town's concerns to the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board.

"We will be putting our concerns forward."