A local developer is eyeing a massive new 600-acre development along Fort St. John’s West Bypass that could one day see up to 6,000 new homes and 15,000 residents.
The XJ Evergreen Estates Corporation is looking to build a master-planned neighbourhood along the city’s new western boundary. It has begun the process of applying for an amendment to the city’s official community plan to define the land uses within the property.
The development, dubbed Parkwood Properties, encompasses five parcels of land totalling 608 acres, brought into city boundaries in 2014. Dan Wuthrich, a co-owner of the company, says two of the land parcels have been in and out of his family for several years.
“As the city develops, we thought we had an opportunity to build a legacy project with the largest green space in Fort St. John,” Wuthrich said at a recent open house for the development.
The development would be anchored around the Fish Creek coulee, with low density residential to the north, and medium to high density residential and commercial areas south toward the Alaska Highway.
Wuthrich and his partners have enlisted Jim Radford as their development manager to help guide the development through its early stages.
Radford, who has developed communities around the world, including Predator Ridge in Vernon, said the plan calls for a mix of 6,000 new homes for up to 15,000 people. The plan also identifies three new school sites, a town centre, and eight new parks spread across roughly 68 acres—four of the parks centred around the Fish Creek coulee, which will connect with the existing West Bypass trail.
“This is two-thirds of the size of Fort St. John,” Radford said.
“This is the most significant residential development project that Fort St. John has seen.”
It will take around a year for the development to work its way through the necessary OCP amendments and rezoning process, Radford said. The hope is to have shovels in the ground as early as next spring to begin the first phases of construction, which will begin in the northwest area near the West Bypass where existing sewer infrastructure exists.
“If we can do it when the snow’s gone next year, that would be first prize,” Radford said.
Ken Rogers, the city’s development director, expects a public hearing on the development to be held in May.
The development gives the city room to grow and adjust its capital planning accordingly, he said.
“That was part of the boundary expansion issue. We were running out of land and when we did the calculations for subdivision prior to the 2014 boundary expansion we were going to run out of land, period, within a five-year window, which is, from a city planning perspective, very, very tight,” he said.
“After the first boundary expansion, the Parkwood, which was part of it, allows us that cushion to look well beyond a decade out. We can ensure that we’ve got the infrastructure in place and the funds are allocated beforehand.”
Wuthrich said he and his business partners all have deep roots in the community. His parents immigrated to Fort St. John in 1949. He raised his children here, and now has 16 grandchildren. It could take between 30 to 50 years to see a full build out of the community, depending on the economy, he said. Wuthrich and his partners aren’t likely to be around to see that day, but they are hoping to leave behind a neighbourhood that makes the community proud, he said.
“What we’d like to see is a legacy of being the preferred community in Fort St. John where the amenities fit the lifestyle, and offer different lifestyles in certain areas in that whole parcel of land,” he said.
More information about the development can be found at parkwoodproperties.ca.