First steps were taken to possibly turn the former Deer Park fire hall into a commercial complex.
On Monday, Red Deer city council discussed an application to rezone property containing the former decommissioned fire hall on Davison Drive near 39th Street to C3 from the existing R1 residential zoning.
Owners who purchased the fire hall from the city in 2018 want to turn the structure into two commercial bays.
If the rezoning is approved, the fire hall built in 1998 could potentially house some “community-based offices” for financial, insurance services and health benefits.
Another rental space could be created on the east side for a local coffee shop.
City planners supported the change, saying that such convenience centres fit within the Municipal Development Plan for residential neighbourhoods. The site has good visibility and access from an arterial road (39th Street), and is also located at the entrance of Deer Park Estates, within walking distance of many homes.
Council heard the closest commercial bays are 800 metres north along Ross Street, and that this Deer Park site, which is off an arterial road, is “amenable” to this type of development.
But when the proposal was circulated to 61 property owners living within 100 metres of the site, 11 replies were received opposing the rezoning. Coun.Vesna Higham was among several councillors who voiced concern about this “significant” opposition.
Neighbours are worried about more congestion at that busy corner, which lacks traffic lights, as well as an increased demand for on-street parking, a decrease in property values, and noise and other impacts associated with commercial operations.
Coun. Buck Buchanan, who’s lived near that location for a decade and has seen three serious accident there, said he could not support any commercial development at that spot. He sided with the Deer Park residents want the site to remain residential.
But other councillors were willing to consider a less intensive commercial development that would not generate much noise or parking spillover onto the street. They gave first reading approval to short-term redevelopment of the existing building for office, commercial services or a restaurant. This would require a future land use bylaw for any other kinds of uses.
The matter will return to council for a public meeting on March 30. Meanwhile, council asked planners to expand public consultation by informing residents living within 200 metres of the site of the rezoning proposal.