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August 15, 2018

Developer behind $1B solar community in Saskatoon aims to start in three years

 

The developer behind a proposed $1-billion community powered entirely by rooftop solar panels thinks Saskatoon city hall should make the neighbourhood a priority.

Jeff Drexel, president of Vancouver-based Arbutus Properties, appeared before a city council committee on Tuesday to explain how the merits of the Solair project align with city hall priorities.

The community is being planned for privately owned farmland on the southeast edge of Saskatoon, east of the city’s Rosewood neighbourhood, most of which is located in the Rural Municipality of Corman Park.

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Drexel, who revealed he hopes to start construction in the next three years, said the 2,200-home community represents the largest scale for a sustainable neighbourhood in Canada.

“There’s nothing that’s even close,” he told the planning, development and community services committee. “We’re hoping for support (from city hall), but ultimately we have confidence in our plan.”

One of the sticking points for the proposed neighbourhood could be its location. Although the land is located inside an area slated for expansion by the city, the process of annexing land from Corman Park could be long, the committee heard.

Drexel said he has already had discussions with the RM. The committee endorsed exploring how the community could be incorporated into existing plans to develop the area that lies east of Saskatoon.

Arbutus plans to return in January with a more formal presentation for city hall.

“I like the name,” Coun. Troy Davies said. “It sounds like a movie.”

The $1 billion in investment is already in place, Drexel told reporters. The starting cost for a single-family home in the neighbourhood is $349,000, he added.

The target population for Solair — 7,000 people — is smaller than most new Saskatoon neighbourhoods. Brighton, which is being developed north of the land proposed for Solair, is expected to one day house 15,000 people.

Keep reading in the Saskatoon StarPhoenix

 


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