A flurry of activity takes place around me as I stand in the middle of the mucky road in Jensen Lakes.
Loud sounds of guns shooting nails into walls and saws cutting wood echo through the developing community as a young girl runs across a plank of wood towards an almost-finished house.
On the porch three children giggle and play, oblivious to the construction site around them. On the undeveloped muddy front yard a prominent sign stands, declaring the house as sold.
A busload of realtors were given a snapshot of the community a few days prior during a bus tour hosted by the City of St. Albert economic development department. The two-hour tour took real estate agents on a bus ride across St. Albert.
Development in Jensen Lakes is well on its way. The neighbourhood features two schools, a large lake and multi-family housing. The lake and beach house should be open by 2020, with shoreline treatment taking place in 2019.
Currently Melcor Developments, the company developing the land, has been excavating dirt to create the man-made lake. A total 100 million cubic metres of soil is being removed, which amounts to around 14 million wheelbarrow loads of dirt.
Just off the St. Albert Trail stands the developers commercial corridor, called Jensen Lakes Crossing. It already has Landmark Cinemas open as its anchor tenant.
Across the parking lot of the theatre two restaurants, Browns Socialhouse and the Canadian Brewhouse, are almost finished. They should be open in the next few months, said Dawn Fedorvich, economic development officer with the city.
Jensen Lakes isn’t the only community growing by the minute. Riverside, which is located from Ray Gibbon Drive to the train tracks lining downtown St. Albert, is booming with construction.
Residents already live in Riverside, which is currently without a transit line. Fedorvich said there’s a population trigger for transit, noting that the community will most likely see a bus route in the future.
Once completed Riverside will house more than 10,000 residents. Since the city has made amendments to the land use bylaw, the area will feature various types of housing including back-lane houses.
Part of Riverside was previously owned by now-defunct ReidBuilt Homes, which lost a court battle to restructure its debt in Nov. last year. The company went into receivership after the Royal Bank of Canada tried to collect more than $64.6 million from the company.
Genstar Development Company bought the land and has since been continuing the build.
“I did see several development permits just this week for continuation of construction, so I’m sure those home buyers are pretty excited,” Fedorvich said.
All this development does have its downside, however. As each new home is built, it brings St. Albert further away from its goal of having an assessment split of 80 per cent residential and 20 per cent non-residential.
The city currently has a split of 84.9 per cent and 15.1 per cent.
“We’re moving slowly towards that number, but every time a new house gets built, it takes us back a little bit as well. It’s always a moving target but we are inching closer to the 80/20,” Fedorvich said.