City council approves spending for school site servicing

Red Deer city council thinks the province should pay its share for servicing for school sites.

Red Deer city council thinks the province should pay its share for servicing for school sites.

At Monday’s meeting, council approved close to $9 million in spending for sanitary and storm trunk servicing for new development in the city’s northeast.

Council has already approved $7.9 million in the 2013 capital budget for servicing projects in the area, including the North Highway Connector project.

Part of the reason for the additional cost of the projects was the faster than anticipated approval of a high school in the Emerson quarter near 30th Avenue.

The long-term is for three high schools, public, Catholic and francophone, to be established in the area, and to ultimately share facilities — including community sports fields — in a “campus style” development in northeast Red Deer.

That vision is set out in a proposed Northeast High Schools and Play Fields Area Structure Plan, which was endorsed in August by the city’s municipal planning commission.

The plan area consists of nearly 56 acres of city-owned land northeast of where 67th Street and 30th Avenue will intersect following their future realignment. The eastern portion of the parcel would be earmarked for high school construction, which is expected to occur over the next 10 to 25 years.

Work on a new Red Deer Regional Catholic School Division high school is expected to begin next year, with Red Deer Public School District anticipating another public high school by around 2020. A high school for Conseil scolaire Centre-Nord likely won’t be required for 20 years or more.

Although the three schools would share some facilities, they’d each also have private space to ensure their identities are maintained, said Planning Department documents.

At last week’s Alberta Urban Municipalities Association’s annual convention in Edmonton, Red Deer sponsored a resolution calling on the province to pay its share for school site servicing.

Coun. Ken Johnston said the projects would have gone forward anyway, and the city will save on inflationary costs. He said the projects allow to build for the future, while pointing out there is a broader issue.

“It reminded me of me telling the kids that they were responsible for shovelling the driveway but they had to buy their own snowblower,” said Johnston. “It does reflect the realities in our province — downloading responsibility without resources.”

Mayor Tara Veer said growing communities always appreciate and welcome provincial announcements of new schools, but they create challenges for municipalities.

Coun. Lawrence Lee said the city continues to grow and they must meet needs — and in order to do that, they must spend the money.

Council approved $3.5 million for the North Highway Connector 30th Avenue Storm Trunk from Northland Drive to the South Quarter Line, but an additional $6.5 million is needed because of the elevated construction of the school site and reorientation of the proposed school site near 30th Avenue to 67th Street.

It was also found that the trunk needs to be buried an additional three to four metres and the subgrade material was unsuitable for road construction.

The developer of the Evergreen development plans to start construction of the neighbourhood storm pond before winter.

The sanitary trunk extension project needs an additional $2.3 million. Council approved $4.4 million in funding previously for two sanitary offsite projects for the Timberlands subdivision. The south quarter line to 67th Street requires an additional $150,000 and the North Highway Connector (30th Avenue Sanitary Trunk — Northland Drive to South Quarter Line) requires an additional $2.3 million to finish.

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