St. Albert city councillors have approving funding for an area structure plan for the Lakeview Business District, which will be restricted to commercial and industrial real estate.
Formerly known as the Employment Lands, the Lakeview Business District encompasses 250 hectares (617 acres) of unserviced land on the west side of the city.
Mayor Cathy Heron said the land would provide for approximately 13 years of non-residential development. She added the area structure plan is an important step in the city’s aim for a tax assessment split of 20 per cent non-residential and 80 per cent residential, often referred to as an 80-20 split.
“Taxes are an issue in St. Albert and if we’re serious about moving the needle away from homeowners, we need to get this online,” Heron said.
St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce board chair Brian Bachynski, who is also the publisher of the St. Albert Gazette, said the city needs to grow its non-residential tax base to meet new infrastructure and maintenance needs or risk imposing an “untenable” tax burden on residents.
“St. Albert has been plagued by the lack of shovel-ready land for some time. If we’re truly going to get to an 80-20 split, and beyond, between residential and non-residential tax assessment, the Lakeview Business District needs to come online,” Bachynski said.
Estimates from the city put the cost of the area structure plan at $446,700. The city, which owns 69.2 hectares of land in the Lakeview Business District, would pay $125,100 while other landowners would cover the rest of the cost. City staff will negotiate a cost-sharing agreement.
Although a detailed estimate was not available, city manager Kevin Scoble estimated the cost for servicing would be more than $50 million.
The land could be marketable within five years, according to city projections.