Town of Penhold has big plans.
The fast-growing community is laying the ground work for what it expects will be continued steady growth. Penhold’s population grew to almost 3,300 people in the last census in 2016, a 38 per cent increase from the 2011.
On Monday, the town broke ground for a $3.8-million water reservoir. It will hold 2,500 cubic metres of water, enough for a town of 7,500. It is expected to be complete by next May.
Last week, Red Deer County council gave its support to the town’s application to annex about 1,300 acres to the east and northeast of town.
Mayor Dennis Cooper said the town is looking far down the road with this annexation.
“Our last annexation was only 10 years ago,” said Cooper. “We wanted to move forward so that we can get enough land so that we don’t have to keep going back to the county.
“The land there should be good for another 30 to 50 years depending on growth,” he said. “I think the 1,300 acres shows good planning so we can move forward with economic development.”
The Municipal Government Board must still approve the annexation. Cooper hopes to see that before October’s municipal elections.
Cooper said the town’s long-term goal is to grow towards Hwy 2. It is hoped the intersection of Hwys 2 and 42 eventually develops along the lines of Gasoline Alley to the north.
“We would like to work with the county to try to develop another Gasoline Alley,” he said.
“The big thing we’re looking at as a municipality is to slowly march our town towards the east, towards Hwy 2.”
By boosting the number of commercial and industrial businesses, the town hopes to create more local jobs and reduce the need for residents to travel outside the community to shop.
It will also diversify a tax base that is almost entirely dependent — 96 per cent —on residential property taxes.
“If we can get some more commercial and industrial land in there that would help everybody, including the residents of Penhold,” said the mayor.
Increasing the land available for residential growth is also behind the annexation drive. The town estimates it has enough land for 10 to 12 years of housing growth but more is needed.
“The additional supply of residential lands is intended to avoid limited supply of options and monopoly situations which would negatively impact housing affordability and choice within the local housing market,” says the town’s annexation request.