City favours Liberton for bike skills park
Old agreement might have tied city's hands for Seven Hills location
By: Peter Boer
| Posted: Friday, Jan 25, 2013 06:30 pm
A 102-year-old agreement between St. Albert and the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton could have stood in the way of building a mountain bike skills park on Seven Hills, if there was an appetite to do so in the first place.
The city is in the process of deciding where to locate a $200,000 mountain bike skills park, with two sites under consideration: Liberton and Seven Hills.
The 1910 agreement, a copy of which was recovered from the Provincial Archives of Alberta, is dated May 16 and describes the sale of church land to the municipality of St. Albert for one dollar.
The document describes the boundaries of the land being sold by older street names of St. Hippolyte Street (Madonna Drive), St. Vital Avenue and Emery’s Street (Mission Avenue).
But more importantly, the agreement states the area of Seven Hills must only be used as a public park and that infrastructure for sports like “Foot-Ball (sic), Base-Ball” and other activities is not permitted. The penalty spelled out in the agreement is repossession of the land by the Archdiocese without financial penalty.
But it appears the restrictions in the agreement won’t factor into council’s decision Monday on where to put the mountain bike skills park, as staff will recommend the site at Liberton Park over Seven Hills.
Monique St. Louis, director of recreation services, said staff were aware of the agreement.
“It certainly was a consideration in our recommendation,” St. Louis said.
Seven Hills is the site of St. Albert’s founding. The suggestion that the $200,000 skills park could be located there has met with resistance from Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools, parents of École Father Jan students and residents who don’t want the hill disrupted for a park.
Mayor Nolan Crouse, who said he was not aware of the 1910 agreement, said even without the staff recommending the park be built at Liberton, it was unlikely council would have approved Seven Hills as the location.
“I have some questions about Liberton but I can’t even imagine any member of council approving Seven Hills,” Crouse said. “I don’t even think it will see the light of day.”
The Gazette attempted to contact the Archdiocese for comment about the agreement, but was told only that “we’re looking into the matter.”
David Keohane, superintendent of Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools, was also not aware of the document but said he wasn’t surprised something like it existed. He said the position of the division hasn’t changed – it does not want to see a bike park on Seven Hills.
“I think (the agreement) affirms our position there is a case to be made that a park can be used as a park, but when we start changing the esthetics of it to reduce understanding or awareness of its historical significance, that becomes problematic,” Keohane said.
Keohane said members of the board will attend Monday night’s council meeting.