When a school site – with or without an existing school building – is declared surplus and no other school board desires it, the City considers acquiring the site in the context of both community needs and corporate priority needs (such as parkland deficiencies, requirements for drainage, etc.). Where sites are situated on reserve land, the City almost always acquires it, because the cost of acquiring the site is $1. Where sites are situated on non-reserve land, a primary factor is the cost, which is evaluated against available City funds.
a) School sites with buildings that are declared surplus pose unique challenges. Most often the buildings are very old and in need of attention to repair structural, ventilation and/or heating issues. Assessments are taken to evaluate the merits (and corresponding costs) of renovation versus demolition. Each site is different. The City's administration reviews structural reports, input received from the community and City staff working with the community, and other information to determine a cost-effective and appropriate course of action.
b) When the City acquires an undeveloped surplus school site, City administration evaluates whether the land can be used in a way that helps fulfil City Council’s strategic goals city-wide as well as specific community needs. Examples include the First Place program for first-time homeowners and the initiative to build seniors’ housing.
City Council’s stated vision is to create a more compact, transit oriented and sustainable city. Council has also directed City administration to use existing infrastructure and services (such as those intended to support school construction) wherever possible and to encourage at least 25% of city-wide housing unit growth to take place downtown and in mature neighbourhoods. Infill projects in mature neighbourhoods help use existing infrastructure and services, including transit, to maximum levels possible, which in turn helps achieve more efficient use of City taxpayer dollar investments.
Read more in The Way We Grow, Edmonton’s Municipal Development Plan.