Town of High Level is proposing to annex lands within Mackenzie County which include the High Level Airport and Footner Lake for the following reasons:
The Town of High Level is largest landowner at the High Level Airport: owning the airport runway and terminal building, all the land north of the terminal building along the runway, and all of the land south to Alberta Wildfire’s airtanker base. Other lands at the Airport are owned by the Province of Alberta and utilized by Alberta Agriculture and Forestry for Alberta Wildfire’s administrative offices and its airtanker base. Bringing the airport properties into the Town of High Level puts those lands under the Town’s municipal jurisdiction and 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 COVID 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 a stated goal generate opportunities that deliver economic growth, diversity, and strengthen our sustainability for both the Town and the region. The airport will be a important contributor to that goal.
Protection of the Town of High Level’s water source: Included in the land proposed to be annexed is Footner Lake, the Town of High Level’s 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.