News / Calgary

Erlton school land will likely go back to City of Calgary

Inn from the Cold has expressed an interest, but the city gets first dibs for a dollar

Inn From The Cold is looking at moving its emergency shelter from the downtown to the current site of the Calgary Board of Education's Chinook Learning Services, but even at the very early stages the pitch is getting a negative reaction from residents.

ELIZABETH CAMERON / Calgary Freelance

Inn From The Cold is looking at moving its emergency shelter from the downtown to the current site of the Calgary Board of Education's Chinook Learning Services, but even at the very early stages the pitch is getting a negative reaction from residents.

A parcel of land in Erlton that's being eyed by a women's shelter as a possible new location has a long way to go before it's available to build on.

The land is currently owned by the Calgary Board of Education (CBE), but Inn from the Cold has expressed an interest in relocating its downtown operations to the site.

That expression of interest has sparked concern from local residents.

Although there are no concrete ideas or designs as to what Inn from the Cold would like to see, residents and the community association have said the 50,000 square foot estimate means it would be too big for Erlton's area redevelopment plan (ARP).

Danny Breton, superintendent of facilities and environmental services with CBE, said they're making plans to move operations currently offered at the Erlton school location to other high schools in the area.

He said once Chinook Learning Services is out, there will be an assessment of the property and a recommendation made to elected school trustees about what can and should happen with the land.

"It's property that's zoned as special purpose community service district, so (…) it’s a designation that's for education and community uses that can accommodate a small scale of recreation facilities," he said.

Breton said they're not closing the door on holding onto the land for future CBE use, but noted that most of the city's growth is in outer parts of the city, where younger families are moving into new builds.

Breton said if the trustees and the education minister sign off on divesting of the land, the school board is legally required to offer the land to the City of Calgary for a dollar.

If they were to refuse that offer, the CBE could then put the land on the market.

Breton confirmed that in July he was approached by former city councillor John Mar, who spoke with him about Inn from the Cold's interest in the land.

"That's as far as that discussion went," said Breton. "Certainly for us, we're not even at the point where we can say that land is surplus."

Area Coun. Jeromy Farkas said there was a lot of interest and questions about the school site at Erlton Community Association's monthly meeting on Tuesday night.

"That sort of matched what we've been hearing at our office," said Farkas. "We've been fielding a lot of questions from people curious about the proposal, and what are some of the next steps."

Farkas said the discussion about what to do with the land is still in very early stages.

"At this point there is no application or even a proposal – there's just an expression of interest from Inn from the Cold, and my understanding is they haven't even drilled down into the specifics of that because it's so premature at this stage," he said.

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