As St. Albert moves closer to annexing land from Sturgeon County, Active Communities Alberta is asking city councillors to include that land in an agreement related to a potential recreation facility.
The organization, which spent over a year lobbying the city for funding support for their proposed facility, got council approval in June for a conditional nonbinding agreement with the city. June’s council decision came with a stipulation that the facility be built in St. Albert.
Matt Bachewich, spokesperson for Active Communities Alberta, told councillors at Monday’s city council meeting his group wants to include future annexed land in their memorandum, instead of just land the city currently owns.
“The shortage of land within St. Albert, combined with the requirement that our facility be built in St. Albert, severely limits our ability to proceed with this project. We believe that amending the MOU motion to include the annexed lands strikes the right balance,” Bachewich said.
“It ensures the facility is built in close proximity to St. Albert residents while providing more flexible and timely location options.”
The request come on the heels of a Landrex proposal made public last week, which pitched a multi-use recreation facility just north of the city. The land is currently in Sturgeon County but will likely be annexed by the city in the next couple of years.
That proposal has not yet been discussed by council.
Coun. Jacquie Hansen said when councillors originally passed their motion in June to start work on a memorandum of understanding, she was thinking the annexed lands would be included. She added the problem right now is they are not annexed yet.
“I think if we want to move forward with any recreation facility, we have to assume that St. Albert has to grow and that lands in other municipalities are going to be important to us in the growth process,” she said.
Bachewich said the benefits of including future annexed lands include faster servicing. If the organization is limited to lands within St. Albert, they may need to wait years to get a site serviced – and the opportunity to secure grant funding may slip away.
The annexed land will be closer to St. Albert homes than current sites within the city, he added.
“Some of the annexation lands are the same distance from St. Albert homes as Servus Place: 180 metres. However, the current MOU wording precludes these sites,” Bachewich said.
Active Communities Alberta, a nonprofit organization, is looking to build a $60-million-plus facility in St. Albert. In June, councillors agreed to execute a memorandum with the group. The document, which is not binding, would mean the city could provide $20 million for the facility as long as Active Communities secures $10 million from each of the provincial and federal governments.
Councillors decided to impose two more conditions on the MOU: in order for it to proceed, the facility would need to be built within St. Albert, and the city would put up to $10,000 toward an outside consultant for a “value for money assessment.”
Council did not vote Monday on whether to include annexed land in the memorandum. A motion for that would need to come before council at a later date.