The city has acquired more environmental reserve along the north edge of the Sturgeon River near Ray Gibbon Drive.
The city now has control of more than six hectares near the future Timberlea subdivision, said director of planning and development Curtis Cundy.
His department worked with landowner Reid Worldwide Corporation to secure the land, located east of Ray Gibbon Drive near the Sturgeon River along the Red Willow Trail corridor. The land is across the river from the Riel Business Park.
Under the Municipal Government Act, the city now owns the land and can use it for park and environmental protection.
“We’re just getting it so it can be kept in its natural state,” Cundy said.
Developers are required to dedicate a certain amount of land for environmental reserve but having this happen early in the development process helps the city’s environmental protection efforts, Cundy said.
Human activity can impact the integrity of a natural area and now that this land is city-owned, staff can take measures to preserve the area.
“We can have the ability to have custodial rights and keep a closer eye on it and make sure that it’s not used for purposes that we feel it shouldn’t be used for,” Cundy said.
He noted that Reid Worldwide and Genstar, the main landholder in Timberlea, are likely to begin developing the area next year.
“We understand how much St. Albertans value these natural areas and are excited that we could play in part in further preserving the environment,” said Greg Hembroff, Reid Worldwide Corporation’s vice-president of planning and land development.
Last November the city announced that it had made a deal with Genstar to protect the white spruce forest, located just west of the more recently acquired reserve. The forest is thought to be about 170 years old and has been threatened by development and vandalism.
The Timberlea subdivision covers 344 hectares and received council approval in 2005.