A parcel of land in the centre of Grande Prairie is in the spotlight, as Grande Prairie city council must decide what comes next for the Smith subdivision. The 4.8-acre plot of real estate between Park Road and 93 Street is currently undeveloped, but its history and potential future are tied to a number of high priority projects proposed by both current and past members of city council.

“A number of years ago the city sold a number of affordable housing properties in the north end,” explains Mayor Bill Given. “We were able to use those funds to buy the Smith subdivision land, and since that time council has had a number of different interests there… a previous council had dedicated some of the lands to the Grande Spirit [Foundation] for a future seniors housing build.”

Given adds that in order to advance the Composite High School replacement project, the city needed to work with Alberta Infrastructure to ensure there was enough land available for that build.

“To assemble the site that the Comp replacement is being built on today, the city arranged to swap some land with the province, and so the recommendation was the land that we traded the province in the past to get the Comp built is not ideal for the project the province is considering. They approached us to see if there was a potential of adjusting the land that we had swapped them, and I think the Smith site was identified as a great opportunity to do that.”

The northeast side of the property, according to the city, is currently being used for parking by users of the Rotary Park soccer fields. In November 2019, members of city council approved a budget that planned for major upgrades to the Smith Subdivision Project, including upgrades to Park Road and 92 Avenue.

Given says there has also been recent discussion around the idea of putting recreation centres or other facilities the Smith land, which only adds to the potential usage of the plot.

“Obviously council has a number of decisions to make on how to use that really valuable resource that we have, first off it’s a relatively large property essentially in the centre in our city, and one of the few properties in our city that is already zoned as high-density residential.”

A report on the land status was accepted for information at Tuesday’s meeting of the Infrastructure & Economic Development committee. Given says a final decision on the land will be made at a date yet to be determined.