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Second reading defeated on 113th Avenue road closure bylaw

Town of Westlock had started the process to close the unused road allowance and then sell it
Almost a year after starting a process to close and then sell the unused 113th Avenue road allowance, Town of Westlock councillors voted 2-5 at their Nov. 14 meeting against passing second reading of the 113th Avenue Road Closure, Bylaw 2021-22.

WESTLOCK – Almost a year to that day after starting the process to legally close and then sell the unused 113th Avenue road allowance on the north side of Highway 18, a tiny portion of land originally taken by the municipality in 1980, Town of Westlock councillors have decided not to proceed.

At their Nov. 14 meeting, councillors voted 2-5 (councillors Abby Keyes and Laura Morie were for) against passing second reading of 113th Avenue Road Closure, Bylaw 2021-22 — first reading passed following a 26-minute public hearing Nov. 22, 2021, while the closure received approval from Alberta Transportation in July 2022.

Administration had recommended council defeat second reading, writing in a request for decision (RFD) that the “closure would no longer support any anticipated highway commercial development” as in September 2022, the town rejected a revised purchase offer for the 1.12-acre sliver of land from an undisclosed buyer — the original purchase offer came in October 2021. The RFD goes on to state that the road allowance “provides for the potential future access between Highway 18 and the Aspendale neighbourhood to the north” and closing it would have necessitated construction of a service road parallel to Highway 18 to service any future development on any lot east.

“I think we’ve hashed it out enough. One of the other reasons, too, is in the future if we were to put in a road to go to that end of town, we would then have to go along the gravel road and in order to access that road, we would have to purchase land from somebody else. So, it doesn’t really make sense to sell land and then buy it back later,” said Coun. Randy Wold.

“It may very well suit our purposes later on,” added mayor Ralph Leriger.

At the November 2021 public hearing, the town received a single written submission against closing the road allowance from Rocky Mountain vice-president Curtis Borduzak, while adjacent landowner Nick Jonk attended the meeting in person and quizzed council “on what’s driving this” to which Leriger told him that someone wanted to buy the lot.

Six other residents who had replied to the town via letter had no issue with the closure, while electricity, natural gas and telecom companies also signed off on the proposal.

Borduzak, who owns the property on either side of the parcel, was against the closure and sale claiming there would be “significant devaluation of and access” immediately to the land east of 113th Avenue. He also says it would reduce access to his business, which is located at 11140 – 100th Street, as there has “already been numerous negotiations to maintain highway access with (the) provincial department of highways and one of your largest property tax paying customers in town.”

A previous administration briefing noted that Alberta Transportation had no objections to closure, with the understanding that a fronting service road would be constructed prior to development occurring on any lot east of 113th Avenue. The construction of such a service road “would be … part of a development approval and formalized with a development agreement and security” the briefing states.

There is currently a service road from 108th Avenue in front of a portion of the UFA, while the remainder of the undeveloped service road right-of-way runs all the way to 115th Avenue.

There are two access points to Rocky Mountain Equipment, which occupies the lots on either side of the 113th Avenue road allowance — one to the business is via 113th Avenue, while the second is few hundred metres to the west.

George Blais,

George Blais

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