Town council discusses what to do about Fournier Place

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Slave Lake town council is looking to do something different with Fournier Place. This is the town-owned residential development on 6th Ave. SW that has about a dozen pre-fab homes on it. For the past four or five years, a Barrhead company called Homes by Northplex has had the exclusive contract to provide homes for buyers of lots in the subdivision. The contract recently ended and the question befoer council at its April 17 meeting was whether to seek a renewal of the contract or try something else.
Council was presented with several options. One was to seek expressions of interest from modular home companies for a similar exclusive arrangement. Another was to open it up, meaning any number of developers could have a go at selling homes on Fournier lots, while maintaining the existing architectural controls.
Yet another option was to chuck the design guidelines and go with either of the first two options under those terms.
Notably, none of the options offered included a renewal of the deal with Northplex. This was likely due to the fact that (according to the written report for council) “there has been some indication over the passing months that Northplex many no longer be interested in renewing the agreement.”
Councillor Darin Busk kicked off the discussion by suggesting another option altogether, which was for the town to sell off the entire subdivision. He got some support for that from councillor Brice Ferguson.
“I’m in favour of selling the whole development,” he said, “and being done with it as a town.”
Weighing in, mayor Warman said what he wanted was to see the place built out, but not end up as “another mobile home park.” He asked planning and development supervisor Laurie Skrynyk if in her opinion the architectural controls “limit the ability of someone to come in and do something.” She said she didn’t think they did, the design guidelines being fairly limited.
“If we get no other interest,” Warman continued, “I’m not opposed to us putting it out there, selling it and so on. It’s a last resort, but I’d rather do that than see it sit there for 20 years and do nothing.”
Council voted in favour of the town putting out a request for proposals.
“We want the door open as wide as we can get it,” he said. “Let’s see what we can get.”
Fournier Place has 94 lots in total. It was developed at provincial expense after the 2011 wildfire disaster as an answer to a perceived need for ‘affordable’ housing in an inflated market. Northplex has been providing homes at around $250,000 apiece, but as noted has only been able to sell 12 of them in four years.

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