By Tim Banman
The City of North Battleford is preparing for a residential and commercial boom as its population grows in tandem with rapidly developing oil assets in northeast Saskatchewan.
The City is making sure to have residential, industrial and commercial land available for at the right price, says Denis Lavertu, director of business development. At press time, city council has approved a 39-lot residential subdivision in Fairview Heights, including single and multi-family lots adjacent to newly added playground equipment and courts. Council will be investing $3 to $4 million in a 14-acre industrial subdivision and another $3 million for commercial land development. The City will also welcome a private 40-lot residential subdivision in Killdeer Park, the first time in decades a private developer has taken on a residential subdivision, says Lavertu.
The City of North Battleford welcomed $74.5 million in value from 131 building permits in 2011, maintaining one of the highest investment levels in years.
The City has taken a proactive view of attracting people to live and work in the city, including obtaining a presence at Toronto’s National Job Fair. North Battleford is the recipient a lot of interprovincial migration and is third among Saskatchewan cities for receiving landed immigrants, explains Lavertu.
“We’re definitely seeing a lot of employers taking advantage of the immigration policies and programs of the Province,” he says. “That’s been highly successful for some of our manufacturers.”
Local educational institutes encourage students to stay by offering chances for youth to try different trades available in North Battleford. The 2011 Statistics Canada census shows an increasingly young population and overall growth of 5.3 per cent, to 13,888 from 2006.
The City plans to open the Credit Union CU Plex this year, featuring an aquatic centre with a wave pool, competition pool and water slide, performing arts theatre, and a field house complete with a running track and a curling rink.
Land values are increasing at a consistent rate and costs for land development and infrastructure increase in tandem with provincial trends, but North Battleford is still one of the most cost-effective places in which to live, work and invest, Lavertu says.
While North Battleford has been criticized for a high mill rate, its low municipal assessment keeps actual individual taxation for businesses as one of the most affordable places to do business in Saskatchewan. A recent Relative Tax Comparison of Saskatchewan Cities report found North Battleford to offer a competitive advantage over eight cities in the province with the lowest total municipal assessment of communities compared, and in most cases the lowest relative property tax per square foot. The assessment compared Saskatoon, Regina, Prince Albert, Moose Jaw, Yorkton, Swift Current and Estevan.
North Battleford ranked lowest in residential assessment in eight of 10 housing type comparisons, and 18 of 20 sampled residential properties enjoyed below average total property taxes. Five of seven commercial property types have the lowest assessment in North Battleford. Large retail outlets compared paid 31 per cent less in average property taxes, while coffee shop franchises compared paid 50 per cent below average.