M.D. of Lesser Slave River council had quite a wrangle last week on the question of what sort of development they see happening in Smith over the next decade or two. The discussion ranged from general, visionary stuff down to the specifics of a particular M.D.-owned lot and what they would like to do with it.

The item started with a slide show on the history of Smith, for (apparently) purposes of perspective. It had quite a range as well, including historical photos of hotels long-since burned down, comments on Smith’s status as a transportation hub (first river and later railway), and narrowing down to the fascinating tidbit that the hamlet has exactly 160 culverts.

Council discussed what to do with the so-called ‘Forestry subdivision,’ that the M.D. inherited from Forestry 20 or so years ago. It has four houses on it, three of which are habitable. An idea of further subdividing it and attempting to sell off lots for residential development has been floating around the M.D. for a few years, never quite coming into focus.

One of the obstacles, council heard, is the dilapidated state of the underground infrastructure that serves the existing homes. The last time the M.D. got an estimate on an upgrade, it was around $750,000. The M.D. doesn’t have that kind of cash, and it’s unlikely a buyer would want to inherit such an obligation. So there it sits.

One suggestion was to subdivide off a part of the parcel that doesn’t have services and offer it for sale. Councillor Nancy Sand was in favour that and returned to it several times during the discussion. It’s something we could do, she said, while we decide what to do about the rest of it.

Other development possibilities in and around the hamlet were discussed – residential and light industrial.

Councillor Brad Pearson expressed a bit of skepticism about anything the M.D. can do or should do that will make much difference.

“You always say that!” retorted Sand. “If we’re not showing that we want to grow, why would they give us a new bridge?”

“If we don’t get a new bridge,” said reeve Murray Kerik, “it’s all moot.”

Council tabled the matter. It’ll be discussed again in January.

by Joe McWilliams

December 5, 2022

This item copyrighted by   TheRegional.com / Lakeside Leaader   Slave Lake, Alberta

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