School Site Assembly Process

Schools, parks and recreation sites are all necessities – but did you know that assembling these large parcels of land can happen in a few different ways?

Sometimes, municipalities purchase land or receive it through a donation. However, the most common way for a municipality to obtain municipal reserve land – a parcel of land that must be used for a public purpose – is through the land development process, outlined below.

How school sites are planned

The Municipal Government Act allows municipalities to require developers of new neighbourhoods to contribute a portion of each new neighbourhood as municipal reserve land for future parks, recreation areas, school sites or a combination of these purposes.. This portion can be up to 10% of the total area of the neighbourhood. Developers would then be responsible for providing all the infrastructure and services to the land as they develop the neighbourhood around it.

Municipalities specify where the reserve land will be within the neighbourhood by developing area structure plans (ASPs) and neighbourhood structure plans (NSPs), which specify how the land will be used and serviced in city neighbourhoods. School sites are identified when ASPs and NSPs are created. School boards provide information about their future needs to the municipality to inform these plans. 

Reserve land is a limited resource, and sometimes the needs and timelines of a community and its school boards change between when a neighbourhood is planned and when the development is completed. 

Rapid growth impacts land availability

Beaumont has seen rapid growth recently. Between 2016 and 2021, the population grew by almost 3,500 people – a 20% increase (source: Canadian federal census data). This means the demand for school sites has become more urgent than the planning and development process for new neighborhoods – and therefore new municipal reserve land parcels – can accommodate.

It can also be difficult to balance the needs of three different school boards in Beaumont, all of which need space for facilities to accommodate new students in our thriving community.

Current school site availability

City staff are exploring multiple options, including land purchases, looking at land that the City already owns, and discussing with developers how to shift timelines or priorities in upcoming neighbourhoods to obtain a site large enough to accommodate one or more high schools to help meet school boards’ needs.

However, once the land is obtained by the City, if it is done outside of the development process, it can still take time to get a school site ready. The process of servicing land requires land studies and planning to ensure that the area is designed properly and follows all applicable regulations. It also requires the construction of sewer, water and power connections, roads, sidewalks, and other infrastructure before any school site construction projects can begin.

By mid-2023, the City hopes to have news to share about an upcoming school site.