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Smaller lots proposed for urban fringe plan area

Significant urban fringe residential development with city-style services in the MD of Bonnyville took another step forward last week with the approval of first reading of an area structure plan for a 300-lot residential subdivision on the fringe of

Significant urban fringe residential development with city-style services in the MD of Bonnyville took another step forward last week with the approval of first reading of an area structure plan for a 300-lot residential subdivision on the fringe of Cold Lake.

The ASP requires a public hearing and two more readings before it can become law. MD council did not set a public hearing date.

The ASP would cover most of two quarter sections of land north of Cold Lake North, between Cold Lake First Nations land to the west and the lake itself to the east.

Under the plan, the development would see roughly 300 half-acre residential lots developed in eight phases.

Some of the land in question has been involved in a past development proposal that halted when the developer went into receivership.

The planning area is covered under the intermunicipal development plan approved by the MD and the City of Cold Lake.

The proposal does not involve the previous developer that went into receivership, said Matty Muller, an independent engineering consultant working on the new project.

The past development called for a mix of one-acre and half-acre lots. The new one calls for half-acre lots.

Muller said the new plan would see the property developed in eight phases starting with the south end of the property.

It would feature lots serviced by the city's water utility, septic tanks and a sewer system for those tanks to flow into. As with all new residential subdivisions in the MD, it would have paved roads, but would not offer curbs or sidewalks, Muller said.

“It's not the full service (lots) that you would normally expect in the City of Cold Lake, but it is full service as far as the MD is concerned,” Muller said.

The proposed lots, which are significantly smaller than country residential lots, but much larger than normal city or town lots, are meant to provide room for families with recreation vehicles to store.

The highest-end lots in the development would offer lake views and sell for something in the range of $200,000 to $250,000 and up, Muller said.

As with virtually all projects in the region, the timing of the development, if it's approved, will be influenced by the pace of expansion in the oilsands industry, Muller said.

“That really would depend on the expected growth of the city of Cold Lake, which of course is a function of the oilsands development and other development that would bring people to the city,” Muller said.

The earliest construction on the project would start is in 2011 or 2012, Muller said.

He said investors are hoping to see the new ASP approved in 2010.

The project's proposed moniker is The Hills of Cold Lake.

The demand for lots in between country residential lots and city-style lots relates to the cost controls and related limitations that come with city lots, Muller said.

“The problem with the city lots is it's become so expensive to develop, that the lots tend to be smaller and smaller and smaller to the extent that you can hardly fit a house on them,” Muller said.

A previous ASP was proposed for the area but never received three readings. Part of that related to the discussions over the intermunicipal development plan for Cold Lake and the MD.

“This proposal was initiated prior to the IDP being in place and through the IDP deliberations it was held so that any proposals would conform to the new IDP,” noted a background report prepared for MD council.

While the plan seeks city services, the City of Cold Lake hasn't signed on to any deal that would see it connect water and sewer services to the land, said Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland, who sounded cool to the idea during a weekend interview.

“Nobody has approached us to tie in (for utilities). That will be an interesting dilemma and certainly water and where it's distributed is probably going to be a major issue for the next (city) council,” Copeland said.

While industrial development on Cold Lake's fringes on larger lots west along Highway 55 won't need water and sewer services, much more dense residential development will need it, he said.

“They need to provide water and sewer to their residents in those developments. Period,” Copeland said.

Copeland said stretching services into the MD would affect the saleability of lots in the city because of the lower tax rates in the MD.

“You're not going to see the City of Cold Lake putting water and sewer out to all these quarter section developments, because what's in it for the City of Cold Lake,” Copeland said. “There will be less and less people buying lots in the City of Cold Lake and contributing to the tax role.”