At only 32 years old, Kingswood is one of St. Albert’s newer communities. But those three short decades have been far from quiet. You might have noticed while driving through Kingswood that the area doesn’t seem entirely finished. It’s true—while development started in the mid-1980s, it hasn’t quite wrapped up yet. But whatever development problems Kingswood has, one thing is certain: the full story of the area hasn’t finished being told.
Like most other areas in St. Albert, before Kingswood was developed into the residential zone we know today, it was home to farm fields. In the summers, the land was covered in crops and when the winter snows came, cross-country skiers would lay claim to the western region along the riverbank. In later years, the St. Albert Nordic Ski Club would formalize their activities in the Kingswood Day Area by building their own facilities, but in the early 1980s, it was simply a great place to ski outside of the city. But all that would soon change.
The residential plans for Kingswood were finalized in 1986, and construction started soon after. In contrast to the previous generation of urban development, it was decided that Kingswood would contain no commercial space and would be almost exclusively residential.
Construction of homes continued into the 1990s, with two distinct areas developing. Homes were built in the south along Poirier Avenue, while homes in the north were built along Sir Winston Churchill Avenue. The idea was that the two sections would eventually meet in the middle, where they would be joined by a public park and a school accommodating the children of the community.
In 1991, Holy Family Catholic Parish opened its doors in the southwestern corner of Kingswood, making it the first Catholic church to be built in St. Albert in well over a century. St. Albert Parish, the city’s only other Catholic church, was finding it difficult to accommodate the city’s rising population.
By 2002, it became clear that the original development plan for Kingswood, the one with the public park and the school, wasn’t going to work out as expected. The original agreement between the City of St. Albert and the land developers, a company called Canterra, made provisions for a school to be built on the land in the centre of Kingswood, but it did not specify what kind of school. The municipal government and the schoolboard felt that a high school would be the best use of the land, but the developers did not agree. Unfortunately for the residents of Kingswood, the land remained undeveloped, with no park to enjoy, fewer homes than originally promised and no school to send their children to.
In 2012, the disagreement between the City and the developers flared up again. The city re-asserted that a high school was needed in the area, but the developers argued that the road system wouldn’t be able to handle so many drivers. In addition, they worried that such a large amount of young, inexperienced drivers coming in from rural areas would endanger the residents of the community. “Teenagers,” said the developer, “do not make good neighbours.”
With neither side willing to budge on their position, the land remains dormant, serving as a small reminder of the previous purpose of the land: tall fields in the summer, cross-country skiers in the winter.
Did You Know?
In the winter months, the Kingswood day area turns from a grassy field into training grounds for cross-country skiers. The St. Albert Nordic Ski Club maintains trails for everyone to use.
You could say that the homes in Kingswood are “fit for a king.” Kingswood has the largest concentration of high-priced homes in St. Albert, with the median value coming in at $601,000.