Earlier this week Lethbridge City Council gave Lethbridge Land the green light for it’s 2020-2023 Lethbridge Land Work Plan and Project Expenditures, after the city department presented its 2019 Annual Report to counsellors on April 27.
Lethbridge Land is a department of the City of Lethbridge that reports to city council by way of the city manager. The department follows council policies but is completely self-funded, paying for all business operations through revenue generated by land sales and not through city tax dollars.
The City of Lethbridge’s manager of real estate and land development Michael Kelly said 2019 was a continuation of a tough 2018 that saw Alberta’s economy tank due to oil prices.
“In Lethbridge we’re always proud that we’re not oil-related, that we’re an agri-food hub, but we did feel the effects down here,” Kelly said.
“There was quite a bit of a slow down, in fact building permits over 2018 and 2019 [decreased by] over 50 per cent for single family permitting.”
But Kelly said even with the downturn, the city’s west side has continued to boom.
“The interesting thing about the west side development — in particular the Crossings — it was devised in 1969 in the West Lethbridge Urbanization Plan that council of the day approved,” he said.
“Ironically, the exact spot that they pointed to on a map back then, that’s where we’re developing the hub over there; with the rinks, the pools, the schools, and the other commercial and multi-family developments.”
The west side has continued to be a major focus for Lethbridge Land. On Monday, city council approved of the department’s work plan and projected expenditures for the next four years.
Lethbridge Land estimates more than $55 million combined to cover projects through 2023, including more than $20 million for work in the west side Crossings community.
The RiverStone and Watermark neighbourhoods will command approximately $12 million combined, according to the work plan.
Despite COVID-19 creating what Kelly called a volatile marketplace, Lethbridge Land completed three sales in RiverStone in the month of March.
But due to current uncertainty caused by COVID-19, city council has requested an update from Kelly by Oct. 31, 2020 at the latest.
“We’re still going to do planning and design work, so in the event that things turn around we’re actually shovel ready,” said Kelly, who added that there is still construction projects underway currently, “but as far as putting more money into the ground, there won’t be a lot of that.”
Lethbridge Land will also continue developing the Sherring Business and Industrial Park as well as the Lethbridge Airport, which had more than $7 million in funding approved by city council in February for an update and expansion.