Red Deer city council has endorsed plans for a new neighbourhood south of Red Deer College and near one of the city’s busiest shopping areas.
The Southpointe Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan was given final reading in council chambers on Monday.
The planning document outlines what should be done within the 157-acre triangular piece between Hwy 2 and Taylor Drive, north of 19th Street.
Once it’s developed, the area will accommodate up to 1,655 residents, have office and commercial space, plus a lot of natural and wetland space. Most of the treed Bower Natural Area, considered one of the city’s best-kept green secrets by many who walk and run on its trails, will be preserved.
Councillor Tara Veer hailed the document overall, but wasn’t keen on a proposed street light intersection into and out of the development, just north of another lighted intersection at 19th Street and Taylor Drive.
She said the city needs to consider transportation planning as a whole and what the impacts may be with each new traffic light.
“Taylor Drive has a standard for lights, at every 800 metres. This (proposed light) would be a compromise,” Veer said. “If we continue to compromise, then Taylor won’t function as it should be . . . as a bit of a ring road around our city with fewer lights.”
The area structure plan comes after more than two years of planning.
In August 2007, council reluctantly approved preserving 17 acres of the Bower woods and grassy fields after they heard more than three hours of community pleas to save the entire 21-acre stretch.
Originally, Qualico Developments wanted to save only 9.5 acres of the natural area but a compromise was reached between the developer, the city and land owner Jim Bower. The city ended up buying most of the 17 acres for $2.2 million, while a few acres were sold to the city for $1. A smaller portion became municipal reserve.
The area structure plan was submitted to the city on behalf of Qualico, Red Deer College and the Bower family.
Red Deer College owns much of the land along Hwy 2 where an eco-innovation park is proposed. This park would house green businesses in buildings showcasing environmental protection and energy efficiency.
The east and south portion of the area structure plan, known as Southpointe Junction, would see the construction of townhouses and multifamily developments, plus office and retail space that keeps pedestrians in mind.