The potential to someday extend Molly Banister Drive over Piper Creek is returning to city council for discussion.
“This time, the question will be if there should be a road, where should that road be?” said Christi Fidek, senior planner for the City of Red Deer.
Last fall, city council decided to keep a road allowance in future plans. This would allow Molly Banister Drive to be connected with 22 St. and 40 Ave. in 25 to 35 years — if traffic studies show this is needed.
The new question is whether to keep the future creek crossing at Molly Banister, or to consider two other potential options — extending Bennett Street or Boyce Street over Piper Creek to someday connect with 22 St.
More than 800 Bower neighbourhood residents received letters from the City of Red Deer asking for their opinions on this matter. The deadline for comments closes on Thursday — and so far, only about four per cent of Bower residents have responded, said Fidek.
The new creek-crossing possibilities were put on the table by Melcor Developments, which has applied to change the city’s Municipal Development Plan and area structure plan.
The company also proposes reducing the width of the future road allowance so it could accommodate a two-lane collector route, instead of a four-lane arterial roadway.
Guy Pelletier, vice-president of Melcor’s Red Deer operation, said on Wednesday that this is his company’s Plan B.
Melcor, which intends to develop housing on the east side of Piper Creek, had initially wanted to take the entire future road allowance off the table. And city administration agreed, saying the project was unnecessary as other options could be found to deal with potential traffic congestion in two or three decades.
But city council instead opted to keep the Molly Banister Drive road allowance in the city’s plans after hearing from residents on both sides of the issue last fall.
Pelletier still doesn’t believe a road extension over Piper Creek will ever be needed.
But if it is, he believes creek crossings from Bennett or Boyce Street would better serve everybody’s interest — including the city’s, park-loving Red Deerians’ and Melcor’s — than the link from Molly Banister Drive.
Existing maps show a future road allowance from Molly Banister cutting diagonally in a large ‘S’ shape through the middle of the green space east of the creek. Pelletier believes this configuration would cause the most environmental impact and raise building costs, since a large spanned bridge would be needed to cross the creek’s wide embankment at that spot.
The two wedges of develop-able land left on either side of the road allowance would make it difficult to design a pleasing neighbourhood, said Pelletier. He noted homes would have to sell for less and would bring in fewer annual tax dollars to the city.
Melcor’s preference is the most direct route to 22 St. — from Boyce Street. But Pelletier knows a lot of houses exist along that street, as well as a park and community hall, so city engineers would have to figure out the feasibility.
A potential future creek crossing from Bennett Street is Melcor’s second choice.
Fidek said city administrators will go over Melcor’s proposal and the public comments, and discuss the pros and cons of each option. A recommendation will be made to city council in the coming months.
If city council gives these changes first reading, the matter will then go to another public hearing.