Mayor Ackerman says significant residential growth is occurring adjacent to the city’s boundary, while available developmental land inside our boundary is becoming scarce.“It’s really critical that the city provides some suitable residential and industrial lands within the next few years to support the anticipated growth in the region,” Mayor Ackerman explained.Ackerman went on to underline the need for an extension by comparing our population and square kilometre to surrounding communities. For example, Fort St. John has 22.7 square kilometres to accommodate a population of over 20,000, while Hudson’s Hope has 896.3 square kilometres for their population of approximately 1,000.- Advertisement -“We are building a very sustainable and tight community, and we’re just about at the end of our boundaries here,” Mayor Ackerman said.Director of Development, Ken Rogers says this year is shaping up to produce the highest number of permits since the construction of apartment buildings in 2007.“This year we’re ahead of last year in permits, and dwelling units are going to challenge 2007,” Rogers said.Advertisement Mayor Ackerman says that both Dr. Stanley Hamilton, who facilitated a taxation review for the city in 2009, and the Site C joint review panel have indicated the need for the city’s boundaries to be addressed.“The panel recommends, regardless of whether or not the project proceeds, that the province give sympathetic attention to an extension of Fort St. John’s municipal boundaries so that contiguous urbanizing area, plus reserve, are brought within the planning, service, and taxation ambit of the city’s government,” the recommendation reads.The City is now in step 4 of the process, seeking approval from members of the municipality, undertaking an avenue known as the Alternative Approval Process.The city will go ahead with step 5, Provincial Approval, unless at least 10 per cent of residents submit an Elector Response Form, indicating to the city that it must hold a referendum to obtain approval for the proposed extension. Elector Response Forms are available at City Hall during the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. or on the city’s website.Advertisement Rogers explained that the build up of a new, high density, residential neighbourhood is a primary aspect of the boundary expansion, which is seen as more cost effective for the municipality, and in turn, more affordable for residents. Cost efficiency comes into play when the same pipeline can feed numerous complexes, given the proximity to each other. The expansion strategy also fits in nicely with both the downtown action plan and the official community plan. “With densification, amenities have to be addressed, don’t get me wrong, you don’t just density and leave it at that,” Rogers went on to say. “…You have to give them somewhere to go, somewhere to socialize, to meet, community functions, that sort of thing…In the end, it’s about growing the community in a healthy way.”Advertisement Completed forms can be faxed to 250 787 8181, emailed to [email protected] or delivered directly to City Hall.The deadline for Elector Response Forms is August 21, no later than 4:30 p.m.The number of elector response forms will than be counted and an administration report will be submitted to council for their consideration on August 25.