St. Albert talks development attraction, co-operation and certainty

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February 26 has officially been declared Economic Development Day.

That was the message Mayor Nolan Crouse delivered to an audience of several hundred business and community members at today’s Economic Development Business Breakfast.

Crouse spoke alongside city manager Patrick Draper and Guy Boston, executive director for St. Albert’s economic development branch.

The breakfast addressed the progress made in economic development in the city, and St. Albert’s plans for the future.

Among the guests were members of the local and regional business community, as well as a number of politicians, developers, realtors and landowners.

Crouse said a recent survey of residents in the community showed that they cared most about economic and community development.

That included everything from residential to industrial and commercial developments, though a major focus of the breakfast was the expansion of commercial and industrial lands.

Crouse said the city was ready to aid existing and coming business owners, developers and landowners in buying, selling and developing lands in the city.

He added that it was important to create alliances among all players in the city and region, as well as the certainty that St. Albert is the place to be for economic development.

“The community wants and expects economic development,” he said.

A special focus at the meeting was set on the Smart City Centre of Excellence master plan.

Draper said the city was planning to develop a strategy on how residents and businesses can use technology to enhance services in the community.

These services include everything from checking bus arrivals and using cameras to control the traffic lights to having access to electricity and water usage rates in households.

Boston said the city was embarking on the single largest economic development in its history.

“We are connected to the region and province like never before,” he said.

Some of the highlights of his speech focused on the planned residential, commercial and industrial developments.

One residential development coming in 2014 is the construction of 2500 units by Melcor on the lands west of Walmart.

Another 700 housing units are planned in South Riel. The development would be the first of its kind, with a large number of high-density apartment buildings.

Boston further stressed St. Albert’s accessibility through the construction of the future Highway 2 (currently Ray Gibbon Drive).

Two major commercial developments coming to St. Albert are the new Target store in May, and the construction of a big box retailer at the end of the year.

Boston would not name the retailer at this point but the Gazette has learned that it is Costco that will open a major new store in Erin Ridge North.

Another major land deal could come from the sale of the casino lands in South Campbell. Boston said that Apex Casino was looking to attract a brand hotel to build on the land.

He added that there was the possibility for a solar panel farm in the employment lands.

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