Proposal lacks playgrounds for children

A proposed Lacombe County housing development overlooking Sylvan Lake needs more places for children to play, says a county councillor.

A proposed Lacombe County housing development overlooking Sylvan Lake needs more places for children to play, says a county councillor.

Rod McDermand said the 49-lot Highland Park development could become home to 200 people, bigger than some county hamlets.

Yet a concept plan shows trails and picnic areas but no sports fields or ball diamonds.

“I just think it’s absent. I think we need to look at that a little bit,” McDermand said on Thursday.

Olga Lovatt, a consultant working for the developers Lance and Tracy Skinner, said because of the sloping topography of the 68-acre site, there is little flat space to build sports fields.

Suitable land could probably only be found in the nearby Summer Village of Birchcliff.

“We would love to have a soccer field or baseball diamond,” said Lovatt, of Edmonton’s Lovatt Planning Consultants Inc.

“We literally can’t build that on this site because of the terrain.”

Councillor Cliff Soper said while the property may not be suitable for flat fields, the slopes provide opportunities for other sorts of recreation.

Allan Williams, the county’s manager of planning services, said staff believe the site is better suited to “less intensive, more passive recreational use,” such as the walking trails proposed.

One of the problems that county planners face in reviewing development proposals is the lack of any kind of global standard for recreational facilities.

Each project is treated on its own merits with planners keeping in mind the end goal of ensuring there are recreational opportunities for county residents, he said.

Highland Park is being pitched as a country residential subdivision with a view of the lake and distant mountains.

“It has very, very superb views. This is the major selling feature of the area,” said Lovatt.

The 0.75-acre-acre lots would likely be built in two phases — 34 in the first phase and 15 in the second — depending on market conditions.

Most of the trees would be retained on the property, which is considered a key habitat for wildlife. To allow those animals to continue to move around, a wildlife corridor will be maintained.

Council approved first reading of a bylaw to rezone the land from agricultural to residential lake area.

A public hearing will take place April 19.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com