Housing proposal shunned

A proposal to develop housing on a portion of the River Glen School lands in the Waskasoo neighbourhood has received a cold shoulder from Red Deer’s municipal planning commission.

A proposal to develop housing on a portion of the River Glen School lands in the Waskasoo neighbourhood has received a cold shoulder from Red Deer’s municipal planning commission.

Members of the commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to recommend to city council that it reject a draft neighbourhood area structure plan that would allow development of 16 single-family dwellings along 45th Avenue and three more on 59th Street.

They cited a number of concerns, including the fact that an area redevelopment plan for the broader neighbourhood is currently being prepared.

“Waiting for an ARP is, I think, extremely important,” said Coun. Paul Harris.

The Waskasoo neighbourhood area structure plan application was received from Chinook’s Edge School Division, which owns the River Glen School property. It wants to subdivide the land into four components, one of which would consist of 16 low-density residential lots and three narrow residential lots.

The other components would include the River Glen School site and municipal reserve/park space, with the fourth comprising the land occupied by Parkland School — with that area to be turned over to Parkland Community Living and Supports Society (CLASS) for renovations and expansion.

The rural students who attend River Glen School, which opened in 1960, are scheduled to relocate to a new Chinook’s Edge school in Penhold in 2014. Red Deer Public School Division is seeking to use the building for its Gateway Christian School Alternative Program.

In addition to River Glen and Parkland schools, the property is the site of playground equipment, a toboggan hill, a volleyball court, a soccer field, a tennis/basketball court, a ball diamond and portions of the Waskasoo Park South Bank Trail.

It’s now zoned public services district, which could allow developments like institutional service facilities and offices for community groups and private clubs.

The Gaetz Lake Sanctuary Committee and Waskasoo Community Association raised concerns about the proposal, as did city staff — which recommended that the commission oppose the neighbourhood area structure plan.

“I think we need to work with the community to determine what, if anything, changes on that particular property as a context of the greater community,” said Coun. Cindy Jefferies, who agreed that the area redevelopment plan should be approved before a neighbourhood area structure plan is adopted.

Other issues identified by the commission included the lack of community support for the plan, its potential effect on traffic flows on 45th Avenue, challenges associated with the nearby river escarpment, the proximity of setbacks from former landfill sites and the impact on the neighbourhood’s architectural character.

If city council approves first reading of the Waskasoo neighbourhood area structure plan, a public open house and public hearing would take place.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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