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Council candidates share vision for annexed lands

St. Albert residents have until Oct. 18 to decide who should fill the city's six available council chairs.

St. Albert residents have until Oct. 18 to decide who should fill the city's six available council chairs.

In this, our second instalment of a six-part Q&A series, the Gazette asked those seeking office to address future development of the annexed lands. Responses have only been edited for spelling, grammar and length. The Gazette does not vouch for the accuracy of candidates' statements.


In 2007 St. Albert annexed 1,336 hectares from Sturgeon County. Residential development began in those lands in spring 2010, with commercial possibly following next year.

In the last year council has considered and rejected two locations for an industrial park in the annexed land. Meanwhile, St. Albert residents continue to provide a huge proportion of the city's property tax revenue.

What would be your preferred use of the annexed lands? Do you feel St. Albert needs an industrial park there? If so, where specifically?

James Van Damme

My preferred use of the annexed land would be to build the Rampart Avenir/St. Albert Sports City projects, which have revolutionary concepts for placing St. Albert on the map with innovation in clean technology and mix of residential and non-residential tax base. Sports City is a haven for athletes of all calibres to compete and train — a better choice of land use over polluting industrial land.

St. Albert is situated with two industrial parks, Riel and Campbell Park. Campbell Park has the possibility to expand by annexing with our neighbours to the east, Edmonton. This Campbell Park expansion should be our focus versus adding 120 years worth of industrial land in the annexed lands.

With Edmonton, Sherwood Park, Spruce Grove and Leduc holding large pockets of land for industrial, this is currently more attractive to the larger companies as land and taxes are cheaper in those municipalities, along with easier transporting routes and options (trains/planes.)

Read more here.

Aisling Pollard-Kientzel

Commercial development is crucial to the sustainability of our community. Attention to this would yield a possibility of shifting the mountainous tax burden from residents. Also, this would offer a boost to the economic development of our city and increase opportunities of employment.

The limited space of our current industrial parks illustrates not only a need, but a possibility of success for future developments. I would support the potential development in the northwest of the newly acquired land if certain guidelines were met. We must ensure that future businesses in the industrial park are appropriate and their development meets provincial and municipal standards. Furthermore, the question of the amount of land used should be reflected along with the impacts to future residential developments.

Finally, while implementing this plan it is imperative to have strict environmental controls. If these guidelines were met, it would prove beneficial to alleviating the tax burden placed on residents.

Read more here.

Malcolm Parker

The preferred use for the northwest lands would be light industrial development.

St. Albert needs an industrial park to have a balanced community of residential, commercial, industrial and institutional developments to be fiscally sustainable. The municipal development plan identifies 700 acres is needed to achieve the 80-20 tax assessment goal. Our current 89-11 ratio results in homeowners bearing most of the tax burden. Supporting the full costs of services required by residents is more expensive for residential developments than commercial or industrial developments which means non-residential is subsidizing the expected services.

The northwest lands are a prime location for an industrial park because of the proximity to the CN intermodal terminal, Villeneuve Airport, upgraders, oilsands, northern forestry, oil and gas developments and the link to the Highway 2 corridor from southern Alberta. The availability of larger parcels of industrial land will attract developers and new businesses, resulting in job creation so people will work and live in St. Albert.

Read more here.

Robyn Morrison

In my opinion part of the annexed land should be used for the development of an industrial park, and I think a good location would be the 'Badger lands' along Villeneuve Road.

As the question says, it is the residents of St. Albert who bear the tax burden. With the development of not only an industrial park, but commercial industry, the burden imposed on our residents can be decreased.

Industrial development, however, should only be one aspect of any proposal. Residential development has begun, with new developments in North Ridge and Timberlea and should continue into the future.

The third aspect of a proposal should contain land designated as green space. With a threefold development plan we can ensure that this new area of St. Albert has everything it needs to be a functioning neighbourhood within our city.

Read more here.

Cam MacKay

St. Albert needs to take advantage of our natural economic opportunities. Our population is highly educated, we are close to Edmonton and we have an excellent transportation network to service the economic growth that will occur in the north.

Right now there are many light industrial businesses that will need to relocate with the impending closure of the Edmonton municipal airport. St. Albert can capitalize on this opportunity by working with Sturgeon County to improve the Villeneuve Airport, zone annexed land for light industrial use near Villeneuve and reduce the red tape that precludes many businesses from locating here.

With the completion of the ring road and our proximity to a regional airport, St. Albert is poised to become the true gateway to the north. Over time we will create an economic cluster of expertise that will grow and prosper while providing local employment and broadening our tax base.

Read more here.

Roger Lemieux

The comment about council "rejecting" two locations is not correct. The Carrot Creek area has been discussed considerably but council had not designated this area to any specific use. It is still considered a study area.

Having said that, we know of a developer(s) that have suggested that residential should be built along Carrot Creek. Our environmental advisory committee agrees with this and has suggested not to locate industrial lands along a waterway. There will be numerous opportunities in the north annex area to designate lands for an industrial park.

We also have Campbell Park that needs to be built out. South Riel is just getting started with Hole's Enjoy Centre as the first business to locate there. We must also remember that the recent approval of Erin Ridge North has highway commercial built into it and we have now been approached by another large landowner who is interested in commercial development west of Highway 2.

Read more here.

Cathy Heron

The near future needs to see acceleration in development in this area. All annexed lands require careful planning while preserving the character of St. Albert. Residential areas need to be mixed use and include green spaces that preserve the natural landscape. Council needs to be disciplined on reserving a large portion of these undeveloped lands for commercial use along the St. Albert Trail corridor.

The Avenir proposal is exciting for St. Albert. It is a clean technology community and our city should be working to encourage this development just west of Ray Gibbon Drive. We also need some light industrial space. This has been clearly indicated by the chamber of commerce. A location must take advantage of Ray Gibbon Drive. We have an opportunity to service the new upgraders north of St. Albert. Administration has been directed to find a new location. This report must include community partner consultation.

Read more here.

Stanley Haroun

Indeed, St. Albert residents provide "huge proportion of taxes," the highest in Alberta. We badly need other sources.

Our two industrial parks are almost full with small parcels of land inadequate for large businesses and warehouses. According to local media reports, some businesses are leaving the city due to lack of large parcels of industrial land needed for expansion.

We must have decisive, measurable and time-limited economic development plans:

1. Zone portions of the annexed land for industrial use near Anthony Henday Drive/Ray Gibbon Drive.

2. Embark on an aggressive marketing campaign to attract new business opportunities appropriate for St. Albert.

3. Change the land use bylaw to allow for smaller lots conducive to building entry-level housing for employees and their families.

Businesses will not locate to St. Albert unless we have available land and available entry-level housing.

Read more here.

Norm Harley

Council keeps saying they want to increase the commercial tax base yet nothing is done about it. This is another example where some of the annexed lands could have been developed for an industrial park. We will never achieve a tax split of 80/20 or 70/30 if we continue to develop residential areas and delay light industrial parks.

Once lands are set aside for an industrial park, then an aggressive marketing plan aimed at the type and size of light industrial we want could be developed and implemented. The marketing plan could include some sort of tax incentives such as lower mill rates for the first five years or longer.

Read more here.

James Burrows

Most certainly a portion of the new annexed lands should house a new industrial park. Based on the information I have received and my knowledge of the area, I would support a new park to be located along Villeneuve Road between the Badger property and our westernmost boundary with Sturgeon County then continuing that development along Ray Gibbon Drive from Giroux Road north to Villeneuve Road.

The reason that this is a preferred parcel of land is that the land itself would best serve as industrial due to the old landfill deposits in the area, its proximity to major roadways including a future interchange linking Ray Gibbon Drive to Villeneuve Road and Highway 2.

There is a possible land mass of 800 to 1,000 acres which is sufficient land to accommodate a sizable development. The servicing for this parcel could easily be accommodated through links with infrastructure in the area of fire station No. 3.

Read more here.

Wes Brodhead

The City of St. Albert needs to pursue mechanisms to reduce its reliance on residential taxes. To do this, land must be provided for industrial uses to allow an increase in commercial contributions to the St. Albert tax burden.

I would advocate for a light industrial park north of Giroux Road to the west of Ray Gibbon Drive with a significant setback from Carrot Creek. This setback is to ensure the environmental protection of the creek and to allow this natural feature of the northwest lands to be developed for the use of all St. Albertans.

This area contains a decommissioned landfill which imposes regulatory requirements constraining the developmental options for this portion of the annexed lands. Light industrial use maximizes the availability of land and provides commercial access to Ray Gibbon Drive. This link allows for the efficient movement of goods to the Capital region by accessing Anthony Henday Drive.

Read more here.

Len Bracko

The preferred use of the annexed lands is to maximize commercial and industrial development along with residential development. Increasing commercial and industrial development will increase the non-residential tax base and stabilize tax increases for our residents.

An industrial park is definitely needed. A small industrial park could be located on the west side of the annexed lands. Additional industrial development could be located next to commercial developments. For example, industrial development could be located beside the land planned for commercial development along the highway. Other municipalities have found that commercial and industrial development can be successfully co-located.

St. Albert has been identified as the seventh-best city in Canada to invest. Bringing the LRT to St. Albert will enhance our ability to attract both commercial and industrial development which requires labour, good transportation and affordable housing.

Read more here.