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Land swap leads to tentative city deal with NAIT to move on to Blatchford

A view of Edmonton's skyline looking south from the future Blatchford neighbourhood.
A view of Edmonton's skyline looking south from the future Blatchford neighbourhood. Vinesh Pratap/ Global News

The long talked about move to see NAIT expand its campus on to the old airport lands at Blatchford is now about to be completed. Marlin Schmidt, Alberta’s minister of Advanced Education, confirmed the agreement to Global News on Thursday.

“There are still some hoops to jump through but as far as I know a tentative deal has been reached between the city and NAIT.”

Schmidt said a land trade is at the heart of the agreement.

“That’s my understanding. NAIT swapped some of the south land with the city. This was a move to consolidate its lands and it will give NAIT the room it needs to grow for the foreseeable future.”

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Although an official spokesperson for the city tried to deny the deal is in place, a well placed source confirmed, “they are finalizing, yes.”

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NAIT declined to comment as well, saying they have no announcement.

It’s not known how many total acres are involved in the swap.

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“It means that we can continue to invest in the good work that NAIT does.” Schmidt said of what will be a long-term rollout.

“In the short term it probably won’t mean much as far as immediate investment in capital and that kind of thing, but over the long term it means NAIT will be able to expand the kinds of programs and services that they offer to its students and to the province of Alberta and I’m really looking forward to what NAIT can become in the future.”

The site of the Blatchford airport lands, taken from downtown Edmonton in May 2018.
The site of the Blatchford airport lands, taken from downtown Edmonton in May 2018. Global News

Earth movers have been preparing the property for several months now, and initial pipes are on site for a central renewable energy plan that’s still being worked through that will likely be augmented by natural gas.

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In late August, council’s executive committee was told the first phase of townhouses will likely be up for sale later this year. About four years down the road, a town centre will be built around the existing airport tower.

The Blatchford site in central Edmonton on December 4, 2017.
The Blatchford site in central Edmonton on December 4, 2017. Fletcher Kent, Global News