BOWDEN — There’s practically no commercial land left to develop on the west side of Highway 2 in Bowden now that the big Tim Hortons/Shell gas bar/ Mexican restaurant is under construction, mayor Robb Stuart says.
The Tim Hortons project abuts a Chevron gas station/convenience store developed earlier. Land to the south of that belongs to the golf course, Stuart says.
On the north flank of the Tim Hortons project is the Starlite Diner Car.
Stuart says the only land left that might be possibly developed is a sliver of town-owned land north of Highway 587. But it’s not serviced.
The only serviced land available for commercial development in the area now are two quarters on the east side of Highway 2, annexed by the town many years ago. However, they’re privately owned, and Stuart has been told so far, that land is not for sale.
“The town extended the services to these lands in hopes that they would be developed; however the landowners have not pursued intensification and as such they remain primarily in agricultural use,” Dave Dittrick, the assistant manager and director of planning and development for Red Deer County wrote in an email.
Dittrick said it is possible for municipalities to expropriate land, “but that is rare.”
Stuart was asked if the town will annex more land.
“I doubt if we will,” Stuart said. “You can’t annex land when you’ve got two quarters sitting there.”
The annexation effort caused “a pretty good fight” between the town and Red Deer County, one of the few battles the two orders of government have had over the years, he said.
He said since then, town officials have re-established a good relationship with Red Deer County officials.
Ironically, Stuart said if the land had been left as county land, it may have been developed by now.
“It would have been sort of like what they’re doing with Penhold, there. It would have been gas stations and buildings,” he said. “Oh well; hindsight, right?”