The city council in St Albert approved more than 600 acres of land being set aside for industrial use this past Monday. There was a bit of drama before the vote when a fire alarm sounded at a little after 5:00 pm when the meeting was just getting started. After a ten minute delay, the councilors got down to business at the public meeting. They set aside property on the western end of town by amending the Municipal Development Plan as well as the Inter-municipal Development Plan to make the approval legal.
This past November the changes did not go through because the subcommittees with the Capital Regional Board did not give unanimous approval to the measure. A public hearing on the matter was cancelled and the matter went to the December 13th board meeting. Approval for the plan changes was achieved at that meeting.
Not everyone was entirely happy with the changes to the plan. Tom Flynn, who is a councillor with Sturgeon County, objected to the density requirements, the joint servicing as well as certain environmental concerns having to do with Carrot Creek and Lois Hold Centennial Provincial Park. Flynn also objected to having industrial developments so close to neighbourhoods like Fairhaven and Silver Chief.
Flynn also noted that the IDP had been repealed in his ridership, even though St. Albert still uses the document for its city planning. Carol Bergum, senior city planner defended the use, citing items that provide necessary information not found in any other St. Albert city document.
Genstar Development’s Jim Pennel also noted that the land may be hard to service because of the hilly topography. This was something he brought up originally this past April. Pennel figures it will cost about $10 million to bring services into the area, and wonders who was going to foot the bill.
In the end the councilors passed the legislation in order to keep St Albert from being perennially viewed as unfriendly towards business development. The gathering of non-residential taxes was also attractive. Patrick Draper, city manager, did note that a motion passed to allow Sturgeon County’s city manger to work with him to iron out their zoning and planning differences.