Lacombe moves to expropriate land

The City of Lacombe has taken the unusual step of applying to expropriate land from a property owner.

The City of Lacombe has taken the unusual step of applying to expropriate land from a property owner.

About 3.6 acres of farmland, located partly within city boundaries and partly within Lacombe County, is needed to upgrade 34th Street.

Both city and county want to pave and upgrade the route to form a ring road connection, diverting commercial traffic from the busy intersection at Hwys 12 and 2A.

Expropriation is typically a last resort for municipalities when negotiations to buy land have failed.

Norma MacQuarrie, Lacombe chief administrative officer, said there have been efforts to purchase the land made by both municipalities without success.

“Certainly we were looking for sign-off from the landowner and that was not forthcoming,” she said. “There’s been no reasons given as to why.

“All I can say is that we made every effort to come to an agreement in terms of a design that was acceptable and we just weren’t able to do that.”

County commissioner Terry Hager said his municipality first tried to buy the land around 2005-06, but could not seal a deal because of drainage and access issues.

Efforts to buy the land were put on the back burner for a number of years before county council agreed in December to the city acquiring an interest in the land.

The land is needed as part of a $5.9-million project that is being funded by both the city and county. Land acquisition was listed as a $250,000 cost in a report last year to Lacombe County.

“We need to take land just to widen the road and upgrade the road,” said MacQuarrie. “It’s certainly gravel standard today and we have plans to upgrade it to a paved standard with the necessary drainage ditches.

“The intent is this will serve as the first leg of the ring road for Lacombe,” she said.

It will take traffic from Hwy 2A through industrial areas and then connect to Hwy 12 so heavy traffic can continue east without going through the busy downtown intersection.

City council approved a resolution last week to send a notice to the landowners, listed as Darrell Gerry Paul and Sherron Joy Paul, that the city intends to expropriate the land, about 2.6 acres of which is within Lacombe boundaries.

Once an expropriation request is filed, landowners have an opportunity to file an objection with the province. An inquiry may be held to hear from both sides.

The landowners could not be reached for comment.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com