West area project moving forward
Lacombe’s West Area Servicing Project aimed at creating growth and development for both the city and Lacombe County is finally moving ahead.
The project consists of extending water and sewer lines into the Joint Economic Area near the interchange of the QEII and Hwy 12 as well as upgrades to Hwy 12 and 76 St.
It will also include the Midway Centre Outline Plan, which will include major commercial development, residential and trail development.
“Extension of water and sewer services through the west area into county lands will help facilitate long-term economic development of our communities,” said City of Lacombe Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Dion Pollard. in a release issued Tuesday.
“The Midway Centre development supports the establishment of Lacombe as a commercial destination centre on the QEII corridor, which will provide diverse employment opportunities and promote both new and existing business in the city.”
In total, the project is set to cost over $15 million, however, the city will pay just $7.2 million of that,As per the intermunicipal development plan, Lacombe will also reap the benefits of sharing half the taxes raised through the development.
Two different agreements were created between the city and county, including the Joint Economic Area Servicing Agreement and the Capital Project Contribution Agreement, both of which were approved by Lacombe County at their regular meeting last Thursday, and Lacombe city council on Monday.
The Joint Economic Area Servicing Agreement outlines the terms for Lacombe providing utility service to the county, from payment and service fees to effluent characteristics.
The Capital Project Contribution Agreement, meanwhile, focuses on the capital costs for construction of the service extensions.
A borrowing bylaw was also given first reading by Lacombe city council to enable $6,619,000 in long-term borrowing by the City.
As for the rest of the project, $5,834,400 will by funded by Lacombe County, $520,000 will be drawn from the city’s water and wastewater capital reserves, and another $2,202,200 will be from developer off site and existing off site levy reserves.
“It is exciting to take this next step forward in our Joint Economic Area, which will provide for future growth and development in both Lacombe County and the City of Lacombe,” said County Reeve Paula Law. “The Lacombe West Area Servicing Project is a great example of how rural and urban municipalities can work together in providing new opportunities that will benefit all out communities.”
As rezoning of lands involved in the project is needed to convert Future Designation (FD) to Highway Commercial District (C4), Residential Multi Unit Dwelling District, Greenspace District, Environmental Open Space District and Utility District, a public hearing will be held on Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers.
Following the public hearing, second and third readings of the rezonings and proposed borrowing will be before council for approval.
Reconstruction of Fairway Dr.
What caused the most discussion amongst council, however, was the option to advance improvements to Fairway Dr.
Work on the road is not expected to be needed until 2026, however, as a water main serving the county lies beneath it, administration said reconstruction occurring concurrently with the West Area project would reduce resident frustration.
While councillors were interested about the construction of sidewalks as part of improvements, the additional project would come with about a $3-million price tag that didn’t interest them as much.
“I don’t think it’s the time for it now,” said Coun. Reuben Konnik. “At the very least I’d like to see sidewalks done, but $7.2 million for the project is a hefty number.”
Coun. Peter Bouwsema noted sidewalks weren’t really related to the West Area Servicing project. As such, council deferred the repaving of Fairway Dr. and the construction of sidewalks there to the next council to look at as a capital project for 2018.
Other notes from council
Council gave approval to renew the energy marketing agreement with UtilityNet - Echo Energy’s supplier.
The renewal is for a five-year term.
During the Monday meeting, Community Economic Development Manager Guy Lapointe told council that Echo Energy had secured 290 electricity account, and another 222 for natural gas.
The goal is to reach 350 accounts by year’s end, which would provide $35,000-$40,000 for the Echo Lacombe Fund, which has already contributed to the construction of the Echo Stage, the student leadership conference and a Neighbourhood Life coffee bike.
The goal for 2018 is to hit 500 electricity accounts.