Council discusses land swap proposal pitched as ‘win-win-win’

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

It’s not entirely clear how it would work (or if it would work), but Slave Lake town council has an interesting proposal to consider. It came from Gordon Ferguson, representing the Koinonia Christian School.
That school, council heard at its Apr. 18 meeting, is looking for room to expand. It has its eye on the former Fish & Wildlife building and land on 4th St. N.E. Ferguson had also noticed, council was told, that the town might be interested in acquiring land along Main St. for further downtown commercial expansion – land that belongs to the High Prairie School Division (HPSD).
Meanwhile, Ferguson owns land adjacent to property designated for future school expansion near Gloryland. Some sort of land exchange involving and benefitting all three parties might be possible, Ferguson proposed.
Town planning and development director Laurie Skrynyk stressed the speculative nature of the proposal at this point. For one thing, the HPSD has not been notified yet, she said. Another variable is that the provincial government property in question has been designated for future seniors’ housing growth.
“Administration is seeking direction from council,” she said.
“This is still very much pie in the sky,” added CAO Brian Vance.
“We aren’t sure if the HPSD is interested or if council has an appetite for it,” said Skrynyk.
Councillor Julie Brandle called the proposal, “ambitious and interesting. I like out of the box thinking,” she said.
“I think it’s worth taking a look,” said mayor Tyler Warman. “We shouldn’t sit on land for 50 years just because we hope something else will happen.”
“Maybe we don’t want to get into it waist-deep,” said councillor Phil Lokken. “But maybe ankle-deep.”
Warman: “Let Mr. Ferguson know it’s worth peeking (at) and see where it goes.”
Skrynyk added for council’s information that if the HPSD accepts the land swap, Ferguson benefits because of an obligation he (or the development company he is involved in) has to build road access to the school site near Gloryland. In the scenario he has proposed, the additional land there would abut Caribou Trail, releasing his company from that obligation. It would, however, still have to service the site under the terms of its development deal with the town.
Whether the HPSD will ever need or want to build a school there is another question.
“Not anytime soon,” is the opinion of councillor Darin Busk.

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