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Young couples choosing Eagle Hills for return

People involved in the business of developing and selling property in the Eagle Hills area are saying times are good - good enough for local Saskatchewan residents to want to return home.
Wally Lorenz and Fred Kropf stand at the Eagle Hills Estates development, where 19 lots have been developmed and three already sold. Lorenz is saying the property has attracted a lot of interest from young people moving back to Saskatchewan for jobs and opportunities.

People involved in the business of developing and selling property in the Eagle Hills area are saying times are good - good enough for local Saskatchewan residents to want to return home.

Realtor Wally Lorenz of Battlefords RE/MAX said that three lots on the Eagle Hills development, roughly 15 minutes south of Battleford, have been sold and the buyers are former Saskatchewan residents who had left the province in recent years but who now are seeing a good opportunity to return.

One of the buyers is Ryan O'Driscoll, who with his partner Nyna Barclay have moved back from Alberta to purchase one of the properties.

Nyna had been studying at University of Alberta and O'Driscoll had been working in a uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan - a job that gives him great flexibility as far as choosing where to live.

But now Nyna has obtained a job with the health region in North Battleford, which made the decision to permanently locate in the area an easy one. They have bought 25 acres and plan to build a home on their new lot at Eagle Hills by next year.

"Once we went out there, the sheer view and the beauty of the land out there" was what attracted him to the area, said O'Driscoll. "Same thing with Nyna, she loves the outdoors."

"We wanted to be close to friends and family and that was important to us", said Barclay in explaining the reasons for returning to the area.

O'Driscoll agreed. "We wanted to contribute to our hometown community, and we have our whole family out here," he said.

They aren't the only ones moving back from out of province. Lorenz said another couple had moved back to the area to work on the new Northland Power plant, while a couple from BC have acquired land in the Eagle Hills area as well.

"It really is an interesting story how people have recognized the value of coming back," said Lorenz, who adds that people are recognizing there is good value to buying a lot in Saskatchewan and that it doesn't cost the premium dollars in Alberta.

He said realtors are finding their properties are getting a lot of interest -- not only because land is cheaper but also because the buyers have friends and family back home.

On top of it all the provincial economy has been good, and Lorenz notes a lot of people have come back to take advantage of opportunities in the region. "The province has really turned around in the last few years, " Lorenz said. He adds it is no longer simply retirees or part-time retirees returning to Saskatchewan, but also young people with jobs returning as well.

He particularly pointed to the power plant development as generating true interest from buyers in the Battlefords as a booming area. There has been speculation about increased activity in the oil and gas sector as well.

The Eagle Hills area was developed by its owner Fred Kropf. He himself had grown up in Wilkie before heading to Edmonton, Alberta for 40 years, but Kropf saw an opportunity to acquire land and develop the Eagle Hills area so that lots can be sold to potential buyers.

"I just thought there was a good opportunity to do something like this here," said Kropf, who has also invested in other areas of Saskatchewan as well. "I had other property in Estevan and Nipawin, Saskatchewan and decided to do a little bit here, investing here."

A total of 19 lots are associated with the development, with lots ranging from seven to 25 acres. Kropf has built some roads and developed the subdivision, which includes gas and power.

The area is admittedly not for everyone, Lorenz admits. People who like the great outdoors would be attracted to the area, which features some rugged hills and some spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.

The hills also attract their fair share of wildlife including deer, moose, coyotes and other animals. The Eagle Hills got their name because it was a popular spot for eagles to land and set up nests.

"To live with that kind of wildlife around you is really special," said Lorenz.

As well there are plenty of wild berries that grow in the area including plenty of Saskatoon berries.

There are 50 acres of municipal reserve land which people can use for riding horses or quads, as well as an old railway track allowance. A number of areas have been opened up for hiking as well.

"Spending some time out here, people will really appreciate the good value of the lots as well," Lorenz said. He anticipates making more sales in the future as interest has been expressed by several more people who have made appointments to come through to look at the lots in the area.