‘Urban village’ pitched

A “mixed use urban village” with residential and commercial zones, an environmental business park and plenty of open space is being proposed for a 157-acre parcel on Red Deer’s southwest corner.

A “mixed use urban village” with residential and commercial zones, an environmental business park and plenty of open space is being proposed for a 157-acre parcel on Red Deer’s southwest corner.

The development is described in the draft Southpointe neighbourhood area structure plan, which was considered by the city’s municipal planning commission on Monday. After spending an hour hearing a presentation and asking questions about the plan, commission members decided they needed more time to digest the approximately 70-page document and voted to table the matter for two weeks.

The Southpointe neighbourhood area structure plan was submitted on behalf of Qualico Developments West Ltd., Red Deer College and the Bower family. It covers the triangular piece of land between Hwy 2 and Taylor Drive, south of Waskasoo Creek.

James Bower and Cynthia Bower-Pelech own much of the land, 95 acres of which is slated for development by Qualico. Expected to be called Southpointe Junction, this area would include retail, office and residential components.

Brent MacKay, a commercial manager with Qualico, told the commission that 500,000 square feet of commercial space would be developed along Taylor Drive and 19th Street. As many as 700 residential units in townhouses and apartment condominiums could be built further west, with predominantly underground parking planned.

A hotel/convention facility is a possibility, he said.

Recreational opportunities would exist in a constructed wetlands and dry pond, a public plaza, at nearby natural areas and at Red Deer College, he said, adding that the neighbourhood would be “highly walkable.”

Red Deer College owns much of the land along Hwy 2, where an eco-innovation park is proposed.

Last month, college president Ron Woodward discussed plans to develop such a park. He said it would be owned and operated by Red Deer Regional Economic Development, which is a partnership involving the college, the city, the county and the Red Deer Chamber of Commerce.

Woodward said the park would house green businesses in buildings showcasing environmental protection and energy efficiency.

Jim Madder, Red Deer College’s vice-president of academics, told the commission on Monday that the eco-innovation park would promote learning, innovation and economic development. He added that the college supports the Southpointe neighbourhood area structure plan.

“It is good for Red Deer but it is also good, quite specifically, for the college.”

Simonetta Acteson, a Calgary-based urban planner who helped prepare the neighbourhood area structure plan, said about 30 per cent of the affected land consists of open areas. These include much of a treed section called the Bower Natural Area, as well as a natural area along Waskasoo Creek that is owned by Red Deer College, the wetlands and dry pond in Southpointe Junction, and other municipal reserves.

The City of Red Deer is purchasing nearly 17 acres of the Bower Natural Area to ensure its preservation and the maintenance of existing pathways there.

Haley Horvath, a planner with Parkland Community Planning Services, said the draft Southpointe neighbourhood area structure plan was favourably received at a Jan. 28 public meeting attended by about 20 people. It was also circulated to city departments and outside organizations like the Red Deer River Naturalists.

The commission is being asked to recommend to city council that it adopt the Southpointe neighbourhood area structure plan.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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