Developers requested annexation of property west of town; intriguing residential, office, commercial, recreational concept proposed

Developers proposing a unique development which combines residential, commercial, office and recreational uses asked Sylvan Lake

Developers proposing a unique development which combines residential, commercial, office and recreational uses asked Sylvan Lake councillors to include their quarter section in an annexation proposal slated for later this year.

Doug McGill, representing Blackstone Developments Inc., appeared at Monday night’s council meeting with a variety of consultants who have been involved in detailed work on the Waterford Station proposal.

The property is located at the northwest corner of Memorial Trail and 60th Street just west of the current town boundary.

“One of the trends that’s emerging is mixed use development,” said Steve Shawcross from IBI Group of Calgary. He described their vision as a place where people could live, work, play and shop in the same area. “We’re seeing shifts away from monolithic single residential subdivisions to a mix of uses, mixed with high quality design.”

The best example of this type of development is Quarry Park in Calgary.

“The number one cost of doing business is recruiting and retaining employees. They have specific needs, preferences.

We want to create an environment that matches the needs and desires of employees,” he said. “There’s a desire to live and work in the same vicinity.”

Conceptual renderings shown to councillors provided classic small town elements with full historic forms of architecture … combinations of residential, office and commercial uses … a walkable community.

“Lifestyle communities are starting to take precedence over power centres,” said Shawcross.

Councillors were provided with detailed information on the planning rationale and financial benefits to the town among other topics.

Phil Dack, with Matrix Planning, explained the project is viable, there’s no risk to the town in supporting annexation, the property can be fully serviced and it would be an exciting and valuable contribution to the community.

He added that if the property is not included in an annexation later this year, it would be at least eight years before anything could be built on the land, according to timelines in the Intermunicipal Development Plan between the town and Red Deer County.

McGill concluded, “there seems to be a new age of commercial centres, it’s no longer same old, plain old. This creates an attraction for the community, creates a customer base, creates character, makes people want to go there. It becomes a destination centre.”

Asked by council about their next move, Betty Osmond, the town’s chief administrative officer, said a decision could be made on the request after an Infrastructure Report is finished. A contract was awarded later in the evening for that report with completion by the end of April. The report will be one of the components of a plan to annex land for future growth from Red Deer County this fall.