The City of Merritt is getting bigger, thanks to a recent acquisition of the Active Mountain Raceway lands south of the city.

The 120-hectare acquisition is one of the features of the “Expanded City” plan for residential, industrial and commercial development that the city drafted in 2006.

“Adding new land to the City of Merritt’s development base enhances our strategy to expand our local infrastructure to support and attract industrial and commercial investors,” James Umpherson, the city’s economic development manager, said in a press release.

The privately owned land was part of the Regional District, so the city had to submit an expansion application to the province with co-operation from the landowners.

“Cities aren’t allowed to do expansions around private land without the full cooperation of the landowners and it has to be initiated by the land owners,” Mayor Susan Roline said in an interview. “We can suggest it but we can’t push the process.”

The press release said the land’s eight owners were “eagerly awaiting” the acquisition and that the city plans to work with them on development projects. No word yet if this will affect the 2.5-mile Active Mountain Raceway course associated with Active Mountain Resort, but Roline said there are perks for the land owners too.

“It lets the owners of that land look at some development for it, and they’re assured that they’ll have access to the city water and sewer. It creates a new tax base for the City and allows us to grow.”

The property will also be included in the City’s snow ploughing and road maintenance projects, and in return, Roline said the city will benefit from taxes it wasn’t receiving before.

She said expanding Merritt is challenging, namely because of the surrounding terrain and the amount of Crown land nearby.