Seventeen years ago, RedSky started with 58 lots on 15 acres at the old North Country School site just west of Joussard. Its latest crown jewel is currently under construction – a marina!
The decision to build a three-acre marina that will eventually include between 80-100 boat slips (only 40 initial boat slips in the first phase) was part of a bigger plan for the development, says co-partner Shane Knutson.
“We plan to have around 250 lots by the time we’re done the whole land parcel,” he says. “At least one-third (of owners) own a boat and the little harbour in Joussard was just too busy to get a slip or use the launch often.”
To date, RedSky has invested over $6 million on over two km of water and sewer lines, gas lines, power burial, etc. The marina itself will cost about $1.2 to $1.5 million.
Red Sky has grown since its inception. In 2010, the site was comprised of 122 lots on 80 acres. Lots average a quarter-acre and sold for an average price of $110,000.
“We’re the only fully-serviced neighbourhood on Lesser Slave Lake that allows full-time living,” says co-partner Shane Knutson, who along with his parents and wife, Lisa, run RedSky.
“We have town water and sewer, natural gas, 100-amp power and high-speed internet so many of our owners have a home office and work from the lake.”
In 2014, commercial fishing ended on Lesser Slave Lake. RedSky had to decide what the future of the harbor would be. To be on the safe side, they decided to build their own to serve the growing development. So began the long process of planning, studies and approvals. It was about three years ago when government approvals occurred.
RedSky worked with Alberta Environment and Protected Areas on the project and received approval under the Alberta Water Act and from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
Knutson says the process was “frustrating” and he had no one to ask for advice regarding approvals – someone who had gone through the process. He enlisted the help of Carson Integrated, who was “amazing” in bringing together all the experts and approvals needed. And, of course, COVID slowed the process as it did seemed to do everything else.
RedSky completed the consultation process with the eight neighbouring First Nations as is required by law.
“It’s (consultation) a really established process so nobody can cheat or skip a step,” says Knutson.
Also included were archeological digs to search for artifacts.
Following the process and ensuring the environment is preserved is important for everyone and in everyone’s best interest. Knutson is a 10-year member of the Lesser Slave Watershed Council which works toward preserving healthy water sources. RedSky has storm water plans to control sediments.
“The lake health matters a lot to us, as that is how we get our buyers. People are sick of small lakes with swimmer’s itch and no fish from central Alberta. Lesser Slave Lake is a dream for most people in the Prairies with its size and fish, and that only 40 km of the 250 km shoreline can be owned.”
There was bit of a “trade-off” which benefits everyone. Knutson says the actual area of shoreline that will become the main channel was purchased, with the money to be used to fund other conservation projects such as Ducks Unlimited or remediation in the area.
When open, the marina will be run as a business within RedSky.
“Rather than common for the neighbourhood so that people without boats don’t have to pay to maintain it,” says Knutson.
“We’ll have slips for ownership and long-term lease, also with seasonal spots and short term area for guests and public users who want to come see what our project is all about.”
Knutson says “heavy construction” started about one week ago although some site grading and planning work for storm water and lot layout occurred years previously.
“We are moving 3,500 dump truck loads of dirt for the channel alone,” says Knutson.
Dirt from the hole being dug for the marina will be used to make slopes and hills for future phases in the development to make the site more attractive.
Work is expected to be completed in about four weeks. Avid Energy from Slave Lake is overseeing the project.
Lake water is expected to be pumped back into the marina hole by the end of April. Water must be pumped through screens to ensure no fish are swept into the empty hole when the ice melts. When the ice thaws in early May, the marina will officially become part of the lake.
Afterwards, RedSky is releasing 49 new lots of lakefront and marina front, along with 23 RV-sized lots, for ownership starting at $49,900.
“RedSky will still allow for tiny homes and garages, but be more affordable for people who are tired of paying $4,000 a year for a five-month seasonal site elsewhere,” says Knutson.
by Chris Clegg
South Peace News
Original March 10, 2023