Emily Hillis, Justin Smith and their family’s home is currently on land that is in the Town of Blackfalds’s plans for a parking lot of the planned Multi-plex expansion. (Todd Colin Vaughan/LACOMBE EXPRESS)

Blackfalds multiplex expansion puts family at odds with town

Negotiations over parking lot causing stress for nearby property owners

Blackfalds resident Emily Hillis says she has no poker face.

It was the concern on her face after a public meeting regarding the town’s multiplex expansion that gave her away, after she heard that several properties — including the one she owns and lives in with her partner Justin Smith and their two kids — must be torn down for the facility’s new parking lot.

She asked chief administrative officer Myron Thompson about parking at the facility in April 2019 at a public meeting.

“That’s when he pointed to the homes across the road and said they would no longer be there,” she said.

“I came home to Justin and told him, ‘Our home is not going to be here’,” Hillis recalled.

The town appraised the home and offered them an initial offer of $316,000, according to Smith.

Smith and Hillis bought the four-bedroom, four-bathroom home for $320,000 in July 2016, and Smith said they have put in between $30,000 and $40,000 of improvements.

The town moved its offer to $350,000 after the initial bid.

Hillis and Smith said they then looked at homes in the $350,000 price range.

“We were sent six houses by the agents. The averages of those homes were 29 per cent smaller square footage, 23 per cent smaller lots and 52 per cent smaller garages,” said Smith.

“They are asking us to give up a third of our home with their generous offer,” he said.

Smith said they would be happy if the town moved their home or was willing to offer them enough money to move into a comparable home.

The town had four properties it had to reconcile for the parking lot. It bought some duplexes and reached agreement to purchase two other properties at 10 per cent above the appraised value. That leaves the home owned by Smith and Hillis.

“We would welcome the opportunity to move their house to a different site, but unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of infill lots that fit. That house is quite wide,” said Thompson.

He feels both parties will need to compromise, but said the town is dealing with public funds and must be consistent with how it dealt with the other property owners.

“Communication is key and I think we will be having one-on-one discussions to find a solution for them,” he said.


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