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City gives piece of Riel Park land back to developer

St. Albert city council signed off on giving a small piece of land in south Riel Park back to the developer who had donated the land to the city in 2016.
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St. Albert city council has signed off on giving a small piece of land in south Riel Park back to the developer who originally donated the land to the city in 2016.

The land, 16 Richardson Drive, is currently home to the Henday Booster Station, which has been out-of-service since 2020. 

A booster station is a facility that maintains water pressure in underground pipes when the water is travelling a long distance.

A recent report to council explains that QuadReal Property Group, the developer responsible for the development of the Henday Business Park — and the company that built the booster station — approached the city earlier this year asking for the land back in order for the company to amalgamate two surrounding pieces of land and build a large commercial building.

In 2016, when QuadReal built the booster station for the city, “there was very little development and limited water servicing to the area,” reads the report, which was written by the city's senior manager of utilities, Regan Lefebvre, and the manager of development engineering, Johnathan Reid.

“Hydraulic modelling identified the need for a booster station to achieve fire flows in order to extend water services to service lands to the south.”

However, as QuadReal continued to develop the area in 2017 and 2018, the booster station quickly became “redundant” as more water lines were brought in.

Lefebvre and Reid wrote that the city confirmed the booster station was no longer needed in 2020 when staff, as well as St. Albert Fire Services, did a test where water from fire hydrants in the area was used to simulate a large fire, and the increased water demand failed to activate the booster station. 

Following the test the booster station was taken out of service and identified as a low-priority decommissioning project scheduled for 2027 at a cost of $150,000 to the city.

“Through a formal letter, QuadReal has requested the disposition of the Henday Booster Station land in exchange for QuadReal undertaking at its own cost the demolition of the existing facility and associated underground assets,” Lefebvre and Reid wrote.

On Tuesday, council approved the disposition on consent, meaning there was no discussion or debate. 

Although the booster station hasn't been used for years, the land still has value, so the city technically needs to sell the land back to QuadReal for $1, Lefebvre and Reid wrote.

City spokesperson Pamela Osborne said the property is about 5,300 square feet, or 0.05 hectares.

Prior to QuadReal demolishing the facility, the city is planning to salvage some equipment from the station that may be used in other facilities or other projects, Lefebvre and Reid wrote.

“Further the city is considering an auction for equipment and material that we do not have a user for; there is expected to be a market for some of the equipment and the target is to maximize landfill diversion without a net cost to the city.”

Lefebvre and Reid estimated it will cost the city about $130,000 to salvage the equipment, but the value of equipment is thought to more than $150,000.

As well, with the Henday Booster Station no longer the city's responsibility, it's estimated that the city will avoid about $25,000 a year in utility costs.

QuadReal did not respond to the Gazette's interview request.


Jack Farrell

About the Author: Jack Farrell

Jack Farrell joined the St. Albert Gazette in May, 2022.
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