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St. Albert to expand by 3,700 acres in January

Edmonton suburban city to annex 1,500 hectares of neighbouring land in the new year
A deer pauses on the edge of a forest just off Meadowview Drive in St. Albert. More rural land will soon form part of the city. | April Bartlett, St. Albert Gazette file photo

Former Sturgeon County land will become part of St. Albert in the new year thanks to a green light from the province.

Approved by the Government of Alberta through an order on Dec. 8, the 1,558 hectares (3,706 acres) of land will officially become part of St. Albert on Jan. 1, 2022. The decision follows four years of negotiation between Sturgeon County and St. Albert and will give the city 45 years of growing room. 

St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron extended her appreciation to both the city's and county’s council and administration in a press release sent out Dec. 10. 

“I look forward to welcoming our new residents on Jan. 1, 2022, and to ongoing collaboration with our neighbours to the north,” Heron said in the release.

St. Albert formally announced its intent to annex land from Sturgeon County in 2017. Originally, the area in question was larger — about 2,180 hectares of land — but sections of land in the southwest, northwest, and northeast parts of the proposed annex area were dropped due to the price it would cost to service them. 

Additionally, the county requested to keep the northwest lands to address needs around non-residential growth and drainage. 

Now that transfer of the 1,558 hectares will be official as of 2022, St. Albert is looking to develop the newly annexed land in accordance with the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board’s growth plan. The plan outlines rules for cities to build dense developments while preserving agricultural land. 

During a public meeting over Zoom at the beginning of December, Lyndsay Francis, senior planner for the city, described the city’s goal of bringing a higher volume of business to the area. 

Within St. Albert's existing boundaries and corresponding Municipal Development Plan (MDP), priority areas for growth include intensification along St. Albert Trail and downtown, as a well as new growth in the West area of St. Albert.
For the annexation land, Francis said the city will prioritize the northeast section for development over the west annexation land, which spans the area northwest of St. Albert.

Amendments to St. Albert’s Municipal Development Plan addressing plans for the annexation land are set to come before council in the new year. 

Sturgeon County Mayor Alanna Hnatiw said she is “pleased” to be at the end of the long process in the Dec. 10 press release. 

“I thank everyone in both municipalities for their time and effort,” Hnatiw said in the release, and addressed Sturgeon County’s “soon-to-be former residents.”

“Though you will no longer be an official part of Sturgeon County, we will always value you as our friends and neighbours and as part of our community's rich history,” Hnatiw said. 

Residents affected by the annexation can find additional information about the transition on St. Albert’s website at