Ex­cit­ing com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ments are putting this tiny ham­let on the map

StarMetro Calgary - - CREB NOW - AN­DREA COX

Named af­ter the French nov­el­ist and play­wright Honore de Balzac, the tiny ham­let of Balzac, lo­cated just north of Cal­gary, is so small that its pop­u­la­tion doesn’t even crack dou­ble dig­its. How­ever, it packs a wal­lop when it comes to com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment.

In fact, no one ac­tu­ally lives in the ham­let of Balzac, but the area rep­re­sents one of Rocky View County’s main com­mer­cial and in­dus­trial ar­eas.

“For 10 years, Rocky View County has been pur­su­ing a strat­egy to at­tract busi­ness and com­mer­cial de­vel­op­ment to the east Balzac area, with great suc­cess,” said Grant Kaiser, di­rec­tor of mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions for Rocky View County.

Thou­sands of new work­ers are set to make the com­mu­nity their work-day home with the open­ing of the on­line com­merce gi­ant Ama­zon’s new 600,000-square-foot dis­tri­bu­tion cen­tre in the busi­ness com­mer­cial dis­trict of Balzac.

The new Ama­zon fa­cil­ity joins a string of oth­ers, in­clud­ing Wal­mart’s 400,000-square-foot dis­tri­bu­tion and pro­duc­tion fa­cil­ity, CrossIron Mills out­let mall, and the New Hori­zon Mall, touted as an in­ter­na­tional shop­ping mecca. The area is also home to the Cen­tury Downs Race­track and Casino.

“The area has out­stand­ing ac­cess to road, rail and air trans­port, and is very at­trac­tive to the kinds of busi­nesses that need land,” said Kaiser.

A ’50s-style diner, a gas sta­tion, a com­mu­nity cen­tre and a few other small busi­nesses make up the ham­let to the west of High­way 2 at the in­ter­sec­tion of High­way 566.

Rocky View County, an area that ex­tends across 4,000 km2, has a to­tal pop­u­la­tion of just un­der 40,000 peo­ple ac­cord­ing to Canada’s 2016 cen­sus.

“There are ru­ral farm­lands around the Balzac area with res­i­dents, but we have no cen­sus in­for­ma­tion on them, since the num­bers are too small,” said Kaiser.

Go­ing for­ward, how­ever, that num­ber is ex­pected to rise.

Kaiser says there are longterms plans for the area that in­clude com­mer­cial, in­dus­trial and res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment.

For now, though, the area doesn’t have a ser­vic­ing strat­egy for wa­ter and waste­water, and so it is not cur­rently un­der ac­tive de­vel­op­ment, re­main­ing largely farm­land.

If you want to peek into the area’s cul­ture, visit on Ground­hog Day, when Balzac Billy – a ground­hog mas­cot cre­ated by the lo­cal busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tion – pops his head out to de­ter­mine if win­ter is done.

COUR­TESY CROSSIRON MILLS

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