The town of Niverville and the RM of Hanover are now in a holding pattern, possibly waiting until next spring to get the go-ahead from the Manitoba Municipal Board regarding their boundary lines.
The two have joined together in the application process of moving about 2,600 acres, of mostly farmland, from the RM of Hanover jurisdiction to the town of Niverville.
With Niverville’s growth far exceeding projections, Jeff Palmer from Urban Systems has been working with town planners to come up with a strategy that will be closer to what is currently needed to continue to grow.
Palmer says, “We recognized that Niverville is growing and very quickly running out of land and much sooner than anybody expected. So, we are trying to plan proactively for the future.”
Palmer explains that the focus of the application is not to accommodate residential growth alone, it’s to accommodate all sorts of growth. “Niverville wants to be a more self-sufficient town going forward into the future and that would include residential, commercial, industrial lands and it will likely include agricultural land as well. The application itself doesn't change the use of the land. If people are farming them currently, they can continue to farm them after the annexation. It just leaves it open for discussion in the future.”
Palmer explains the definition of an annexation. “You're changing the boundaries. Currently, the land in the proposal is in the Rural Municipality of Hanover, and in the future that farmland will be in the town of Niverville. It doesn't change the ownership of the land. There's no expropriation. Nobody is gaining or losing rights. The decision on how farmland can be developed still lies with the province. The province ultimately has control over that process.
“What we're doing is just trying to move the lines around, so that certain lands will be put within the town of Niverville, which means they would have responsibility for managing growth in those areas. Not necessarily trying to change these tomorrow, or just take land from anyone, that's certainly not on the table at all. That's expropriation, not annexation. And that's not why this is happening now. This is happening to give the town of Niverville the proper planning tools so that they can continue to grow with an expectation of where that growth will take place and the nature of the growth.”
Palmer notes it’s been exciting working together with Niverville and the RM of Hanover, “I think the level of cooperation is very strong between these two. It's been a positive working relationship, on both sides and I'm enjoying working with clients that have good neighbors. So, it's a really fun project to work up from my perspective as well.”
Palmer says they have sent in their application and are awaiting approval from the Manitoba Municipal Board, which is subject to Provincial Legislation.
"Now that the province has received the application, we're going through the community engagement process right now. I couldn’t tell you what’s happening behind the scenes and how they’re (the province) addressing the application right now. It's likely that they're just kind of waiting to see the outcome of the engagement process and starting to think about how public hearings might look in the future. So, it is a provincially regulated process, the process of annexation, and we're just kind of getting into it (Public Hearings) now.”
How long till we get a decision? Palmer notes, “There are so many factors that affect that process. You know, I wouldn't even want to speculate how long it could take. I will say that they don't generally rush it because they want to get everybody the opportunity to comment. So, I would say it will likely take more time than less. For now, the first step is that people have an opportunity to comment and provide their feedback, and we get a chance to answer any questions that they might have.”
Moving forward, now that the paperwork is in the hands of the Manitoba Municipal Board, Palmer says the next step is to meet with the public. “We think that it’s important that landowners directly affected by the proposal are consulted first. They get priority. So we’ve sent out letters to them and will be following up with one-on-one phone calls or emails or however, we're able to get a hold of them. That's going to be going on in the next couple of weeks. There will also be a private meeting set up just for landowners to kind of kick off the process. There will also be two public meetings that everybody is welcome to attend in early December. There will be a lot of opportunities for the public to comment and for landowners to comment. They can do that through the website.”
The meetings have been scheduled to take place at the Niverville Heritage Centre on Thursday, December 8 from 5pm to 8pm and Tuesday, December 13 from 5pm to 8pm.
PLEASE FIND BELOW SOME FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO THE PROPOSED NIVERVILLE ANNEXATION.
What is happening? The Town of Niverville, with the support of the RM of Hanover, is proposing to annex lands immediately east of Niverville in order to accommodate future growth.
What is annexation? An annexation is a statutory process for changing the boundaries of existing municipalities. Boundaries are altered to transfer municipal jurisdiction over land from one municipality to another.
What lands are affected? Roughly 50 parcels, representing approximately 2600 acres of land, are being considered for annexation.
Who manages the annexation process? The Province of Manitoba's Municipal Act contains provisions for annexations. The proponent initiates the process by submitting a written proposal to both the Municipal Board and all affected local authorities. The report and recommendations of the Municipal Board are critical to the provincial decision on the request, which ultimately falls to the Lieutenant Governor in Council.
What is the Municipal Board? The Municipal Board is a quasi-judicial independent tribunal established to make decisions or advise government on certain matters related to planning, land use, and municipal affairs, as defined by provincial legislation. The Municipal Board plays an important role in the entire annexation process. They prepare a written report of their findings and recommendations, along with the reasons for the recommendations, to the Minister of Municipal Relations.
Why is this happening now? Niverville is growing rapidly – faster than anyone predicted. The Town has received interest from some landowners in converting their land to be developable in the next few years. This annexation will provide the ability to service these lands with municipal water and sewer system should people wish to see development on their lands. This annexation ensures that Niverville continues to have the potential land base to grow should landowners wish to develop. It is important that this process happen now so that everyone has certainty and understanding as to how the Town will grow and develop over the long term.
Can I continue to farm my land? Yes. Lands being used for agriculture can continue to be used for agriculture. The annexation does not force any lands to be developed should the current owner choose not to change use. The Niverville Zoning Bylaw and Development Plan would be updated following the annexation. Agricultural zoning will be put in place that generally aligns with current zoning within the RM of Hanover.
Will my property taxes increase? The mill rate will transition from Hanover's to Niverville's gradually over five years. In Year One, the Town will absorb 100% of the difference. In Year Two, the Town will absorb 75% of the difference, decreasing to 50% in Year 3 and 25% in Year Four. Five years after annexation all properties will be paying the Niverville mill rate.
When will this proposed annexation take place? The proposed annexation would be completed in 2023 once the consultation period with landowners and hearings with the Municipal Board has been completed.
How can I express my support or opposition? The Town intends to connect individually with each affected property owner to discuss the concerns you may have. An open house for affected landowners only will be scheduled. Public open houses will follow for all interested parties.
Written support or opposition to the proposal should be sent to email@example.com.
Meetings with the Town's Planner and members of Council are available by contacting the Town's Planner - Jeff Palmer @ 204-259- 3693 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do I gain from the annexation? This varies and is dependent upon your use of your property. Some benefits include reduced response times for emergency services, access to Niverville's first responder service, decreased insurance costs due to Niverville's fire rating, reduction on membership dues and recreation rates for residents versus non-residents, ability to access municipal water system (at a cost) and ability to connect to Niverville's sewer system (at a cost).
Who can I contact for further information? To book an in-person, virtual meeting, or phone call with the Planner and/or Municipality: Jeff Palmer 204-259-3693 or email@example.com