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High River annexes 1,700 acres

The southern Alberta town of High River grew significantly on January 1.

The southern Alberta town of High River grew significantly on January 1.

The community of 12,000 about a half hour south of Calgary swallowed up 1,769 additional acres under an annexation deal approved late in 2011 by the province's Municipal Government Board (MGB).

The land added to High River was formerly in the Municipal District of Foothills.

The annexation was supported by both the town and the M.D., but was not supported by some mineral rights owners. As well, some M.D. landowners weren't happy to be left out of the annexation.

In approving the annexation, the MGB ordered the town to pay $800,000 to the M.D. as compensation - an amount the two municipalities had agreed on.

In its written decision, the MGB noted: "The board places considerable weight on the fact this compensation amount is the result of successful negotiations between the two municipalities."

The board also commented on the objection of mineral rights owners to the annexation.

"The denial of the entire annexation application, or, alternatively the exclusion of (certain lands) from the annexation application, would mean that the standpoint of the surface landowners would be forfeit in order to accommodate the standpoint of the subsurface mineral rights owners."

The board noted the province's Energy Resources Conservation Board can still approve oil and gas wells in an urban municipality.

High River is located in an established oil- and natural gas-producing region.

The town says the annexation will provide enough land to cater to High River's growth for the next 30 years. Its next step is to prepare a growth management strategy for the annexed lands. A public consultation process for that started in January.

from Western Investor February 2012