Rocky View County (RVC) council recently approved a development application that was opposed not only by residents of Springbank, but also by City of Calgary officials.
The Coach Creek retail/housing proposal from Qualico Communities passed by a vote of 6-3 during a regular meeting April 13, with Couns. Samanntha Wright, Crystal Kissel and Kevin Hanson in opposition. The application will include both residential and commercial development on a 115-acre parcel sandwiched between Highway 1 and Township Road 245 (Old Banff Coach Road).
“Our staff go above and beyond to ensure these proposals fit the statutory plans,” said Reeve Daniel Henn. “I have complete faith in our administration that they have done their homework with this.”
Despite council's approval, the proposal garnered plenty of opposition. A main point of dissent came from a letter submitted to council by Matthew Atkinson, the planning and policy strategist for the City of Calgary.
Atkinson’s letter indicated his municipality does not support the application, “as the application is premature and may have detrimental impact on services and resources for the City of Calgary.”
“The City of Calgary continues to not support this application at this time,” Atkinson’s letter stated. “The City continues to suggest that the application is premature given that the County is updating the Springbank Area Structure Plans, which will provide a new policy framework for the area in question.”
His letter went on to state the City of Calgary is requesting further collaboration and coordination with RVC to discuss how to mitigate the potential impacts. He added a number of the City’s concerns were not addressed, nor was a meeting proposed to resolve any of the concerns.
“The City requests that the County consider the land-use, mobility and service impacts of this proposal, and suggests that inter-municipal coordination is needed to support a shared understanding between our municipalities,” he wrote.
In addition to the City’s concerns, 136 public responses were received by RVC regarding the development proposal, many of which were in opposition.
Alison Hepburn, who owns land adjacent to the proposal, claimed she will be “severely impacted” by the development.
“Based on past incidences, this would prove to be a dangerous proposition for both RVC and for the integrity of the drainage area and the buildings situated on the property,” she said.
She added she is “gravely concerned” the proposed plan for the disposal of stormwater through the ravine and pond on her property will cause erosion of the existing hillsides. She noted that could impact the stability of the slopes, causing an impact on the stability of structures on the property.
“Detrimental effects to RVC would also be realized as a result of loss of slope stability on Township Road 250 and the culvert system that runs underneath it at this location,” she wrote.
Area resident Gina Maier said in her submission she couldn’t imagine any Springbank residents – particularly along the residential streets branching off Old Banff Coach Road – being in favour of the development’s impact on their neighbourhoods.
“Especially a transformation into a commercial corner where a farm sits today,” she said. “The reason people live in this area is precisely because there are not any such developments.”
During council’s discussion on the item, Coun. Hanson attempted to put forward a motion that would delay the vote, but it was ultimately defeated.
“I think this would be time well spent,” he said. “I think if this application were to align with the new [Area Structure Plans] fully, then I think the buy-in will be a lot higher from the residents and it will be according to plan, not shoe-horning something into an old plan.”
Coun. Wright agreed with Hanson, adding current economic issues mean there shouldn’t be a rush to pursue the development.
“We can pick and choose policies that this does and does not follow,” she said. “We have heard from residents who say this proposal does not follow our policy. We have also heard from the City [of Calgary], who is saying it doesn’t follow our policy.
“If they are saying it doesn’t follow, my gut says it probably doesn’t to some degree and there is some work that we can do to potentially save us a lot of headache and money in the long run.”
Taking the opposition position, Coun. Greg Boehlke said administration did a great job dealing with the City of Calgary and that their concerns “have been looked after.”
“I look at our neighbour, with all due respect, [and] it seems like [they] are trying to put a slow down on this,” he said. “I believe myself that this should go forward.”
Boehlke also noted the same names often show up in opposition to development items that come before council.
“I’m sorry, but they are completely misinformed with what is going on,” he said. “There is no reason to get all upset, because Calgary again is showing rejection of our own planning, while touting their own as being good.”