Growth Study: Frequently asked questions


Update October 2016:
A draft report was provided to City Council in camera in June 2016, resulting in Council requesting additional information. In October 2016, the Capital Region Board made a new Growth Plan for the region, which has been forwarded to the Government of Alberta for approval. The Growth Plan raises greenfield (new development area) densities for the City, from 25 dwelling units to 35 dwelling units per net hectare, which has significant impacts to the City’s future land needs. Therefore, the Growth Study assumptions are being revisited for compliance with the CRB Growth Plan, and the findings will be taken to Council for review by the end of 2016. An announcement regarding implementation of the Growth Study or future steps will be made by early 2017.

  1. What is a growth study? 
  2. Why is a growth study being initiated now?
  3. What are the options being considered for accommodating future growth?
  4. How will the study examine the financial impacts of the growth options?
  5. What is the extent of the study area?
  6. What is the overall timing of the growth study project?
  7. How will Parkland County and the Town of Stony Plain be involved in the growth study?
  8. When will City Council make decisions on which growth option to pursue?
  9. When and how can I provide feedback on the growth study?
  10. What steps will take place after the growth study has concluded?

 



1. What is a growth study?

A growth study is a comprehensive look at the trends of a municipality’s growth over time. It investigates historic population growth, demographics as well as land supply and absorption to project how and where the City’s growth should occur in the future. The study takes into consideration serviceability, fiscal impacts, opportunities and constraints. Typically, growth studies are commissioned to determine appropriate directions to grow beyond municipal boundaries as a result of dwindling land supply within current municipal boundaries.

2. Why is a growth study being initiated now?

The City of Spruce Grove has a policy that it shall maintain a 25-year supply of lands for future residential, commercial and industrial growth. The City commissioned its own internal land consumption analysis report in 2013 that concluded it had an approximate 19-year supply of residential land remaining within its current municipal boundaries. The City also concluded it had a 39-year supply of commercial land and a 59-year supply of industrial land. The City has retained ISL Engineering and Land Services, CORVUS Business Advisors and Strategic Projections Inc. to undertake a growth study. The study is expected to validate the City’s own internal analysis and is anticipated to focus primarily on growth directions to accommodate a 50-year supply of land for residential growth.

3. What are the options being considered for accommodating future growth?

To accommodate future growth, the study will assess various expansion options including: (1) future annexation of lands from Parkland County, the Town of Stony Plain, or both; (2) amalgamation with the County, Town, or both; (3) formation of a specialized municipality similar to that of Strathcona County; and (4) other inter-jurisdictional agreements. A no-growth option will also be examined.

4. How will the study examine the financial impacts of the growth options?

For each of the growth options identified, the study will examine the cost to the City for continued growth over the review period to ensure that the direction taken for future growth is financially sustainable. A more detailed financial analysis will be provided for the preferred growth option endorsed by City Council, including, but not limited to, examination of specific infrastructure and servicing requirements, assessment growth, tax impacts and debt guidelines.

5. What is the extent of the study area?

The City of Spruce Grove is currently 32 km² in size. The study area includes 113 km² of lands surrounding the City as well as the Town of Stony Plain (37 km²) and portions of Parkland County (76 km²). It is important to note that the study area only represents the area that will be used for data gathering, analysis and investigation at this time. It is not an annexation area, or proposed boundary of an amalgamated municipality. As the growth study progresses, the specific areas to study relating to growth will become more focused and will be determined based on estimates of forecasted growth, sound planning principles, servicing opportunities and constraints as well as other influences.

6. What is the overall timing of the growth study project?

The growth study project is a three-phase project that is scheduled for completion in mid-2016. The first phase, the preparation of the draft growth study, is scheduled for completion in early fall of 2015. The second phase, a detailed financial analysis of the preferred option, is scheduled for completion in late 2015. The third phase, public and stakeholder engagement, will begin upon completion of the second phase and is scheduled for completion in mid-2016.

7. How will Parkland County and the Town of Stony Plain be involved in the growth study?

City Administration will be consulting and information sharing with both the County and Town throughout the project. In addition to this, the City will request planning, engineering, mapping and financial data from the County and the Town for the purpose of the draft growth study (first phase) and financial analysis (second phase). Additional consultation will occur throughout the third phase of the project (public and stakeholder engagement).

8. When will City Council make decisions on which growth option to pursue?

City Council will consider the growth options presented and make a decision on which option to further analyze in the fall of 2015. Following this decision a detailed financial analysis of the preferred option will be initiated, which is stage two of the project. Once the financial analysis has been completed, a second discussion to confirm the preferred option is scheduled for late 2015 prior to kick-off of the third phase, public and stakeholder engagement.

9. When and how can I provide feedback on the growth study?

The launch of engagement with the public and stakeholders is scheduled for 2016, upon completion of the detailed financial analysis. This will include open houses for both the public and potentially affected landowners as well as meetings with the County, the Town and other targeted stakeholders (e.g. Alberta Transportation, school boards, utility and service providers).

10. What steps will take place after the growth study has concluded?

After the three-phase growth study project is completed in 2016, City Council will make its final decision on whether to pursue the growth option that was investigated in detail. If the decision is to proceed, the City will follow the relevant application process set out by the Province of Alberta.