Red Deer Municipal Planning Commission approves assisted living home for Riverside Meadows

An assisted living facility approved in Riverside Meadows will offer a home for people to age in place.

But neighbours are worried about the safety of the future residents.

The 523.8 square metre home approved Wednesday by the Red Deer Municipal Planning Commission will have one and three bedroom units on 51st Avenue. The building will be located at 5917 51st Ave., a currently vacant property.

Opposition to the newly approved assisted living development fell far outside the purview of the municipal planning commission. Nine letters of opposition were received and four people spoke against the development at the meeting.

Much of their concern focused on crime and safety issues. However, mayor Tara Veer pointed out these are not municipal planning commission issues, but are instead larger issues that need to be addressed at a higher level.

“What I heard today are significant social and crime challenges in the vicinity,” she said. “There are other systemic issues that need resolution and intervention from the city. The applicant can’t be penalized because of it.”

Shawn Lardner, assistant director of Living Independently for Equality, said they are trying to build a place where people can age in place.

“These individuals are not criminals, they’re not going to cause a strain, they need housing and this is what’s being offered,” he said.

Debbie Fournier, who works at a nearby business, said she is worried about the safety of future residents.

“There is crime in the area,” she said, adding it isn’t safe to leave her office building after dark because the area is not safe.

“There are so many safety risks in my mind to build a facility where so many people need help because it’s not the kind of area where people can be supported.”

Maureen Fleming, a part owner of the Occudent building, which would share an alley with the assisted living facility, said the location is not appropriate. They deal regularly with loitering, garbage from drug use and crime.

“We’re concerned about the safety of our staff and clients,” she said. “We would also be concerned with the safety of assisted living residents.”

Issues among the written letters of concern cover a wide range, but parking was a reoccurring theme. Neighbours were concerned adding this facility would increase the number of vehicles on the streets and force some employees to park further away from their office.

Other concerns included parking, distance from neighbouring properties, landscaping and a below grade development.

The below grade development is a ramp down to a lower level to make one of the units wheelchair accessible.

However, the building has seven parking spots at the rear of the building, far above the legal requirement of three. Commission member Lawrence Lee added an amendment requiring those seven spots to be paved to encourage their use.

The development was approved unanimously.

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