Edmonton is the principal city in Alberta’s Capital Region, and the growth of many of the nearby municipalities is largely fueled by the power and influence of Edmonton. These other locales benefit from their proximity to Edmonton, and sometimes they do not share the full burden of regional infrastructure costs, but the province usually steps in to level the playing field through grants. These other municipalities have the right to exist, and sometimes, I’m ashamed to realize, Edmonton does bully them.

Edmonton should not be outraged that fast-growing Beaumont recently received extra land from Leduc County for annexation; yet, Edmonton City Council appears to believe, in a sort of manifest destiny, that that land was being held in trust for Edmonton. But why would it be? It is obvious that our current Council is obsessed with big government.

People in the Capital Region should be free to live where they please. Some people value being away from Edmonton politics. Having multiple municipalities near one another provides people with options and choice. To me, choice is good. Beaumont should be able to grow, instead of just stagnating. It is not Edmonton-south-south, and yet the City of Edmonton is so mad they did not get the land in question.

The people and councillors of Beaumont decide what to spend their tax dollars on, which will be categorically different than if Edmonton City Council was making those decisions. But Edmonton wants to paternalistically choose because Beaumont will do it all wrong: like, for example, approving drive-throughs instead of buses. The condescension is so strong, you can smell it.

I know that the City of Edmonton would love those extra tax dollars for LRT projects, or to cover the $300 million plus dollars spent on the downtown arena, but why should people in Beaumont be on the hook for that?

If the annexation area in question became part of Edmonton, the individual voices of the people there would be lost. If some type of mega-city was formed, the votes of the locals would be watered down by the more urban Edmontonians anyway. Toronto’s similar experiment is widely viewed as an expensive failure.

Edmonton currently has plenty of space for future growth. If we want our downtown to be more vibrant, having a fixed municipal border will put the principles of land economics into play. Developers will build more high-rises downtown. We can direct growth to agreed-upon areas.

Some planners argue that it is more cost-effective to have a single, monolithic municipality, and that the Edmonton area should go that route. I have heard that plenty of times. I would counter that by stating that most American cities, as we know them, are actually comprised of many small cities. For example, both ‘Chicago’ and ‘Miami’ are composed of over 30 cities each. This is the case across the United States; however, to be honest, Chicago and Miami are the only two cities I looked up. I stopped researching after that because I believe my point is proven.

To account for the millions of people found in large American cities, you usually hear the disclaimers ‘in the New York Area’ or ‘the Tri-State Area’ or ‘in the Census Metropolitan Area’, etc. This is done because each of those areas consists of a multitude of cities, all with different levels of taxation and amenities. You can choose where to live. This concept should not be foreign to Edmonton. If Beaumont and Fort Saskatchewan grow stronger, we would still coordinate regional transportation and infrastructure issues with them. We do not have to feel slighted that people are choosing to live in these other cities. All people are different, and of course, some people will prefer different things, such as proximity to the countryside.

Let’s not forget that Edmonton does not even have an airport within its corporate boundaries. After all, shouldn’t it be the Leduc International Airport?

I don’t get mad when I see a St. Albert bus in Edmonton. It is time for the Edmonton City Council to stop empire building, and to start governing the free people who have chosen Edmonton, before they choose again.

 

J.D.

 

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If you liked this, please consider reading one of my novels. I write on a variety of topics. The broad themes of my fiction include individualism versus collective thought, and the importance of culture and identity in society. I sometimes use humour as a tool. I sometimes use pity. Sit back, click, and enjoy.