A major commercial-residential-recreational development proposed for a prominent piece of land in southwest Red Deer has received a stamp of approval from the city’s municipal planning commission.
The commission voted unanimously on Monday to recommend to city council that it approve the draft Southpointe neighbourhood area structure plan.
That plan outlines the development of a half-million square feet of commercial space, 700 multi-family housing units and an environmental business park on 157 acres bounded by Hwy 2 to the west, Taylor Drive to the east and Waskasoo Creek to the north.
The approximately 70-page draft plan, prepared on behalf of Qualico Developments West Ltd., Red Deer College and the Bower family, had been tabled by municipal planning commission on July 6 to give members more time to review it.
About 95 acres is slated for development by Qualico. Expected to be called Southpointe Junction, that area will include retail, office and residential components, and possibly a hotel/convention facility, said Simonetta Acteson, a Calgary-based urban planner who helped prepare the plan.
Qualico is also considering a private co-generation plant that would produce electricity and heat water for use in nearby residential buildings.
Land along Hwy 2 owned by Red Deer College is expected to become home to an eco-innovation park, said Acteson. That business park would “advance the philosophy of ecologically sound development in both process and final product” and be developed by the college in partnership with federal, provincial and municipal governments, she said.
About 30 per cent of the plan area will be preserved as open space, said Acteson. This will include constructed wetlands and a dry pond in Southpointe Junction, a natural area along Waskasoo Creek, and a large part of a treed section known as the Bower Natural Area.
The city previously arranged to purchase almost 17 acres of the Bower Natural Area to preserve it, and to maintain and expand pathways there.
The trail network throughout the plan area will include a pedestrian bridge in the Bower Natural Area.
A plaza for public gatherings will also be created in Southpointe Junction.
Acteson said the objective is to create a “live-work-play” community.
“We’re hoping that people who live here will also work here, or in the area.”
Commission member Rene Michalak expressed concerns that some residential development will occur in a treed area. But city manager Craig Curtis was complimentary of the “creative outcome” of the plan, and noted how the Bower family and Qualico had worked with the city to preserve much of the Bower Natural Area.
Councillor Lorna Watkinson-Zimmer also praised the plan’s developers for their efforts.