Red Deerians can once again weigh in on the contentious issue of whether to preserve a road allowance for the future extension of Molly Banister Drive at a special meeting on Jan. 16.
After raising questions about why Melcor Developments should once again be able to bring the matter up with council and the public, councillors unanimously approved first reading on the matter. (Coun. Dianne Wyntjes was absent and Coun. Kraymer Barnstable removed himself from voting over a potential conflict of interest).
This will allow for another public hearing to be held on Jan. 16 at 3 p.m. in City Hall’s council chambers.
Coun. Victor Doerksen asked city administration if anything has changed over the past two years since the last time the land owners, Melcor, asked for the road allowance to be removed from city plans so a better neighbourhood design could be created south of Sunnybrook.
In 2020, council held a nine-hour public hearing on this issue, before determining to keep the road allowance in future plans. Councillors then decided the road allowance might be needed in 20-30 years, in case traffic jams develop on 32nd Street and Delburne Road and extending Molly Banister Drive through woodland and over a creek to join with 40th Avenue would make sense, establishing another east-west route.
Doerksen was told Melcor has the right to bring the matter back to council after a six-month waiting period — even though there’s been no change since the matter was last heard, other than the road allowance in question is now narrower than in 2020, and there are a few new councillors.
He heard that citizens have an “inherent right” to bring these matters back after six-months because there are no municipal rules at this time preventing this.
Coun. Lawrence Lee said he would vote for first reading so another hearing could be held to provide more community input.
“Things have changed on council because we have some new members,” said Lee, referring to Councillors Cindy Jefferies, Bruce Buruma, Victor Doerksen and Kraymer Barnstable, who were elected in 2021, after the last public hearing. However, Barnstable recused himself from dealing with the Molly Banister road allowance issue on Monday since his family members own property in the area.
The public hearing held on this matter two years ago did not go in Melcor’s favour. Council then voted 5-3 to keep the road allowance in the city’s plans for a possible future Molly Banister extension.
In 2021, Melcor received council approval to reduce the future road allowance from a larger arterial roadway to a narrower collector roadway.
Since Melcor has again submitted an application before council to remove any future road allowance from the plans, the City of Red Deer hosted a public information session about the application. Out of 53 responses from area residents, the majority (62.3 per cent) were in favor of removing the road extension and bridge from city plans, while 37.7 per cent were in favor of keeping it in.
City administration is recommending the road extension and bridge be removed from city plans. This means the area could be developed without holding space for this road.
More information can be found at www.reddeer.ca/mollybanister.