Town of High Level is proposing to annex 1,935 hectares of land within Mackenzie County which includes the High Level Airport, Footner Lake, and the Town's wastewater sewage lagoon for the following reasons:
The Town of High Level is the largest landowner at the High Level Airport: Owning the airport runway and terminal building, all the lands north of the terminal building along the runway, and all of the lands south to Alberta Wildfire’s airtanker base. Other lands at the Airport are owned by the Government of Alberta and utilized by the Ministry of Forestry and Parks for Alberta Wildfire’s administrative offices and its airtanker base, and the Ministry of Infrastructure. Bringing the airport properties into the Town of High Level puts those lands under the Town’s municipal jurisdiction and development authority.
Control land use planning and development at the airport: Currently, any leaseholders at the High Level Airport must have the permission of both the Town of High Level and Mackenzie County for any improvements or developments they may wish to undertake on their leased property. The Town of High Level also needs the permission of Mackenzie County to develop properties or make improvements at the airport. As the development authority the Town can establish appropriate land use zoning and development guidelines.
The Town can use the High Level Airport as an economic driver for the community: Airports can be significant economic engines for a municipality and its larger community. In the decade prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the High Level Airport averaged over 20,000 air movements (take-offs and landings) every year; making it one of the busiest small airports in Canada. High Level Town Council has established a Strategic Goal to generate opportunities that deliver economic growth, diversity, and strengthen our sustainability for both the Town and the region. The airport will be an important contributor to that goal.
Protection of the Town of High Level’s raw water source: Included in the land proposed to be annexed is Footner Lake, the Town of High Level’s raw water source. Bringing Footner Lake into the Town of High Level through the annexation allows the Town to control land use and development around the lake including its tributaries and outflows. This allows the Town to protect its water source and work with the province on measures to stabilize the quality of water coming from Footner Lake.
Improving the Town of High Level’s wastewater treatment capabilities: The Town is the registered landowner, owns, and operates a wastewater sewage lagoon located within Mackenzie County at 792 2039;1, directly adjacent to the Dene Tha’ First Nation’s Bushe River Reserve 207. This lagoon is reaching maximum sewage capacity, and in 2022, the Town purchased SE-33-109-19-5 to the north of 792 2039; 1 to resolve the treatment capabilities of the existing sewage lagoon. Annexing these parcels into the Town reduces the Town of High Level’s liability associated with aging wastewater infrastructure and enables the Town the ability to work directly with the Government of Alberta on expanding our wastewater facility or altering our wastewater treatment capabilities located on lands within the Town’s jurisdiction once annexed.