Canada News

Get the latest new in Candada


Strathcona County approval of new Crusaders arena spells end for 150-year-old farm

A Strathcona County family that has been farming in the area for nearly 150 years is disappointed council voted to move ahead on a new arena for the Sherwood Park Crusaders, despite many arguments made against the location.

“We’re, of course, disappointed that council didn’t vote our way. We felt that there was an awesome turnout and people spoke overwhelmingly in support of us,” said Colin Jackson.

A large crowd gathered Tuesday night at a public hearing in Sherwood Park, where about 50 people spoke in opposition of the project.

“It was amazing to see that community come out and support us. Every council member had something good to say, not every council member voted against us.”

Since 1881, generations of the Jackson family have lived and operated a farm called Jackson Homesteaders, just north of Highway 16 at Range Road 231.

Story continues below advertisement

The Jackson family farm is next to the proposed site of the new Crusaders arena. Global News

In February, the Strathcona County council approved an agreement with the hockey team that would see the Crusaders build a $86-million four-sheet arena next to the property.

The 18-acre parcel of land is at the northeastern edge of Sherwood Park, near the Greenland Garden Centre and a new development called Cambrian.

The property set aside for the arena used to be owned by the Jackson family. In 2013, the family said Strathcona County threatened to expropriate it, claiming it was needed for a stormwater pond and road upgrades.

Two years later, the two sides came to an agreement and the strip of land was sold to the county.

“This property was bought, we felt, under a forced sale,” Jackson.

However, in the decade that followed, the county did not developed the land and no stormwater pond or any upgrades have been built.

Story continues below advertisement

Click to play video: 'Strathcona County family says arena would end farm that’s nearly 150 years old'

Strathcona County family says arena would end farm that’s nearly 150 years old

The Jacksons say they were not contacted by the county about the new plans for the site and were shocked to learn of the arena via the county’s announcement a few months ago.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

“Nobody in Strathcona, beyond the council, knew that it was going to be planned to be a rink until February 13th,” Jackson said. “That was key to our argument last night — that it was bought for a completely different purpose than what they ended up in there.

“We were promised a stormwater management plan, and it ended up becoming an arena.”

Jackson said nobody at Tuesday’s meeting argued against the need for another rink in the community — not even him — the issue is all about the location.

“We saw all kinds of people show up, people that we never met before, show up and speak on our behalf. People who felt that this wasn’t the best place for this facility, people who felt that our farm was more important than the placement of this arena. And nobody spoke against the arena as a whole.

Story continues below advertisement

“Everybody felt that the arena was important — just not here.”

“We listened to everybody and what they had to say last night,” Strathcona County Deputy Mayor Corey-Ann Hartwick said.

“There was a lot of information that was shared. The concerns were heard about the adjacent farm property, but we also had to look at the $86-million private investment in our community by a private investor that will have no impact on our taxpayers.”

Jackson was disappointed council didn’t take an opportunity for sober second thought before approving the zoning but is also not overly shocked: “Council has made their decision, they said that they were told (by administration) that they could not go back and revisit it.”

The farm owner noted the project still faces permit hurdles and the arena isn’t a done deal, in his perspective.

“They’ve got some Alberta Transportation issues to deal with. It still might not go through. We’re still hopeful on some of those fronts,” Jackson said. “We’ll see what our options are as we move forward.”

The zoning for the land was approved Tuesday night and Hartwick said the next steps are for the hockey team to take the arena plans to planning and development.

“Hopefully we have a very successful applicant that comes forward and we get a great, facility built,” Hartwick said.

Story continues below advertisement

An artistic rendering of the Sherwood Park Crusaders' multipurpose arena in Strathcona County.
An artistic rendering of the Sherwood Park Crusaders’ multipurpose arena in Strathcona County. Credit: VOSH Architecture

The county is gifting the team the 17-acre site for the building.

The arrangement will see the Crusaders paying for the construction of the facility, which is to include a four-sheet, ice-rink arena that can seat at least 2,500 people in the primary arena.

Strathcona County will provide the club with land as well as $990,000 each year for 20 years “to support the operations and maintenance of the facility and provide an equity investment.”

Click to play video: 'Strathcona County reaches deal with Sherwood Park Crusaders on hockey arena'

Strathcona County reaches deal with Sherwood Park Crusaders on hockey arena

The county said when the 20-year deal expires, the Crusaders will return the equity investment of $4 million to the county.

Story continues below advertisement

The arrangement will also include the Crusaders offer of at least 2,430 hours of ice time each year to the county for “community-based activities.”

Jackson said the traffic alone will drive them out of business, making it impossible to operate their large crop-carrying semis and tractors, some of which stretch 18 feet tall and 130 feet long.

“There are danger factors with our large equipment, in the interaction it will have with the arena.”

The site for the proposed arena connects to the south side of the Jackson property, just steps from their home and driveway. He said their horseback riding operations will also be impacted, as the arena will cut off access to trails.

At this point, Jackson said it might be time to accept the outcome.

“I think we need to take the high road and move on. Honestly, we thought about fighting, we thought about legal avenues, Jackson said. “At this point, while there was certain things that our legal counsel said we might pursue, I don’t know if we’re going to do that right now.

“It’s pretty exhausting and maybe not very fruitful.”

The hockey club is hopeful the facility will open in September 2026.

— With files from Breanna Karstens-Smith and Phil Heidenreich, Global News


&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

View original article here Source