This story has been updated with comments from St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron.
St. Albert has opened a survey to collect opinions from residents about the development of a new park in Kingswood.
The 2.3-hectare park will be located just south of Kingsmeade Crescent on the hill between the upper and lower sections of Kingswood.
St. Albert Mayor Cathy Heron said bringing a community park to Kingswood is one of her goals she wants to see accomplished as mayor. That stemmed from a visit to the Grade 6 class at the Keenooshayo Elementary School when she was first elected to council in 2010.
"One of the kids came up to me and said, 'When do we get a park?' And I actually hadn't realized, but the entire area of Kingswood at that time had one little tiny tot lot. Even the tot lot was too small for an eight-year-old," Heron said.
"We've finally got a solution and we can finally give the residents of Kingswood somewhere to go and take the kids."
Resident feedback is important to the project's design and the city will be putting in significant efforts to do this public consultation, so she said she hopes residents take the time to send in their suggestions.
Ideally, Heron said she would like to see a "well-rounded neighbourhood park" established in Kingswood, with a soccer field or a baseball diamond and some play structures for the kids.
More grandiose suggestions, like water slides or a bike skills park, would turn the park into a destination spot in St. Albert, so Heron is asking residents to consider whether they'd be open to people from outside their neighbourhood coming to use the park if they want a grander design plan.
The survey closes at 12 a.m. on September 8.
The acquisition of this land, approved by council in February, followed a move in April 2019 to expropriate the 7.2 hectares of land the city was owed by Canterra Developments.
Under provincial legislation, whenever a developer moves ahead on a subdivision, a municipality is entitled to 10 per cent of land, but if the municipality decides to expropriate the land instead, it has to compensate the developer.
Kingswood development began in the '80s, but Canterra vice-president and general manager Ryan Brown told the Gazette in April 2019 the company did not co-operate with the city in handing over municipal reserve land in 2007 because of an announcement to locate a school site in Kingswood, which would draw increased traffic to the area.
"The city's position and the school board's position was a developer cannot dictate what goes in land that is supposed to be turned over to the city through municipal reserve," Heron said.
"So when I got elected as mayor, I met with (the developer) and Coun. Ray Watkins, who knows the development community really well. We met and it was positive – it's just taken this long to get there."
Council's decision in February brought an end to the pursuit of expropriation, which administration said would have cost "well into seven figures." Instead, there will be no cost to the city to acquire this 2.3-hectare parcel of land.
St. Albert will be drawing up to $3.94 million from its capital reserve to fund development of the park, and administration said $2 million of that would be dedicated to grading and seeding the site. However, a more accurate cost will be determined once a detailed concept plan is completed in October this year.
The city will be taking next steps with the developer as the rest of the municipal reserve land is still owed, and the city's position is that the developer will not be given any more subdivisions until that happens.
But this compromise with this parcel is a "good deal" in the meantime, Heron said.
"This is something that was really important to me, it's part of my campaign platform. I'm glad it's happening."