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Community amenities site concept goes to council this summer

After almost a month of public engagement opportunities and an online survey, St. Albert city staff will use the next few months to refine a single concept of the future community amenities site to be presented to council this summer.
Following a month of public engagement, city staff will now work to refine a conceptual community amenities site near Ray Gibbon Drive for council's consideration this summer. FILE/Photo

After almost a month of public engagement and an online survey, St. Albert city staff will use the next few months to refine a single concept of the future community amenities site to present to council this summer.

The community amenities project, which has been in development since about 2018, plans to use a parcel of land located on the southwest corner of the Ray Gibbon Drive and Villeneuve Drive intersection. 

In early February, Edmonton-based developer Rohit Group of Companies donated about 25 acres for the city to use for the future recreation space. A city news release said the land is valued at $5.65 million.

Council won't vote on whether a new rec-centre is built quite yet, however. Rather, the presentation this summer will give council the opportunity to provide their own feedback and direction on the project, said Manda Wilde, interim manager of recreation facility development and partnerships.

Wilde said the concept being presented to council will be “informed by all the public feedback, alongside city plans and policies, technical information and subject-matter experts.” 

From Feb. 8 to Mar. 5, residents were asked to complete a survey about the project on the city's Cultivation the Conversation platform, and share which of the five draft site concepts they thought was best. 

The survey received nearly 2,000 responses, according to a tweet from the city. As well, Wilde said, staff spoke with over 600 residents about the project through an open house and pop-up information sessions.

“Engagement with the public, community organizations and other partners has been really strong,” Wilde said. 

“We have seen fantastic uptake to our online survey, with more than 1,600 diverse responses showing a wide variety of interests.”

Landfill constraints

During a presentation on Feb. 28 to the citizen-represented Community Services Advisory Committee, city project manager Meredith Willacy said an old landfill directly adjacent to the future facility site limits what the city can develop.

“That is the most constrained piece of the site and has an assumed associated setback of 50 metres, which has some development limitations due to the previous use of the land,” Willacy told the committee.

For all five concepts that residents shared opinions on, the landfill portion of the land was designated as either a bike skills park, or an open green space. 

The committee heard Rohit will construct a clay cap over the landfill portion of the site, which will allow the city to do minor development on top, but that portion of land won't be dug up whatsoever. The clay cap is expected to increase the elevation of landfill portion of the land by three metres, according to the city's website.

Wilde said once Rohit installs the clay cap, as well as methane venting systems, that portion of land is also expected to be donated to the city, bringing the developer's total land donation to about 59 acres.

“This area is more constrained on development and is suitable for more passive recreation and development that does not require excavation, including activities like passive open green spaces and bike skills parks, which can be built on top of the structure,” Wilde said.

Rohit Group of Companies 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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