Red Deer city council will hold a public hearing on Oct. 28 about whether to take the future expansion of Molly Banister Drive off the table. (Photo by MAMTA LULLA/Advocate staff).

Red Deer city council will hold a public hearing on Oct. 28 about whether to take the future expansion of Molly Banister Drive off the table. (Photo by MAMTA LULLA/Advocate staff).

Red Deerians can weigh in on the Molly Banister road extension at an Oct. 27 public hearing

The debate rages on — and more opinions are being sought

Citing the community divide over whether to remove the Molly Banister Drive extension from future plans, city council decided to extend the 35-year debate even further.

Most city councillors gave initial approval on Monday to administration’s proposal to permanently remove the road alignment from the East Hill Major Area Structure Plan — not because they thought this is definitely the way to go.

Councillors Michael Dawe, Ken Johnston, Diane Wyntjes, Vesna Higham and Lawrence Lee said they gave the proposal first reading because they wanted to give all Red Deerians a chance to air their opinions at a public hearing on Oct. 27.

Mayor Tara Veer excused herself from the discussion over a potential conflict of interest since she lives in an adjacent neighbourhood.

But councillors Frank Wong, Tanya Handley and Buck Buchanan opposed the proposal to remove a future road connection that could link Molly Banister Drive with 40th Avenue and 22nd Street in a decade or more as the city grows.

City administration had recommended the road alignment’s removal, citing the need to preserve an environmentally sensitive area as well as wildlife movements and habitat. They also supported the city’s long-term strategy of creating a park-like setting for residents.

The vision is to create a city within a park, since the trail system is most valued by residents, said senior planner Kimberley Fils-Aime.

But Wong, a retired city planner, suggested the road extension will be necessary to prevent future traffic congestion along 32nd Street to Red Deer College.

And he questioned why there wasn’t a similar outpouring of ecological concern about the North Highway Connector project, which will eventually add another bridge to the Red Deer River to provide better traffic flow from north to south.

Handley preferred Option 2, which was proposed but not recommended by administration.

It would preserve an alignment across Piper Creek for a narrower connector road with a bridge that spans the creek and allows human and wildlife traffic to pass beneath it.

This would provide less disruption and traffic noise than an arterial roadway, but planners admitted the connector road would not be a major traffic corridor and would still require the future expansion of 19th Street.

Handley said it would provide another exit for Melcor Development Ltd.’s proposed future subdivison on the east side of the creek — as well as a quicker way for emergency vehicles to access the Bower area, which is on the edge of acceptable emergency response times.

City councillors had received a thousand page report — including hundreds of public comments — before the meeting. The paperwork included split results from a non-scientific public opinion survey conducted earlier this year by the city.

About 41 per cent of respondents favoured removing the road alignment from future plans, while 57 per cent favoured of keeping it. (This mirrors the results of an Advocate opinion poll from earlier this year.)

With such close results, Lee suggested putting the question to a public plebiscite on the next municipal election ballot — but this was not supported by the rest of council.

Wyntjes said she expects a “cheer or jeer” reaction regardless of what council decides, but councillors were elected to make these kinds of tough decisions, she said.

Dawe, like several of his council peers, said he would give first reading to the recommended proposal to remove the road alignment, in part, to ensure that the matter goes to a public hearing so everyone can weigh in.

Red Deer city council is grappling with this controversial issue that goes back three decades because Melcor Developments is planning a new subdivision east of Piper Creek and the Bower Place mall, and needs to know whether a four-lane roadway will someday intersect this yet undeveloped land.

The city hasn’t yet hit the 115,000 to 180,000 population benchmark that planners figure should trigger discussions about the road extension.

While the extension of Molly Banister Drive is not in the City of Red Deer’s 10-year capital plan, councillors heard it could be needed by between 2031 to 2046, depending on the city’s annual growth rate.

red deer city

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press file photo.)
Red Deer city council holds closed-door discussion about proposed aquatics centre

Recommended design, cost and location won’t be made public until next spring

A community gathering space was created in front of the new Red Deer Culture Services Centre before the 2019 Canada Winter Games. (Advocate file photo).
Red Deer’s Culture Services Centre to get additional $4.6 M in renovations

It’s one of many capital projects approved by city council

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, reported an additional 1,307 COVID-19 cases Tuesday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Central zone up to 1,249 active COVID-19 cases

Red Deer sits at 257 active COVID-19 cases

Mayor
Mayor Veer appointed as Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer has been appointed an Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel by… Continue reading

Const. Jason Tress
Mountie testifies another RCMP officer sexually assaulted her at 2012 party

Former Mountie on trial for sexual assault in connection with incident in northwestern Alberta

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary's Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season's top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
CP NewsAlert: Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

CP NewsAlert: Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney watches late in the second half of the team's MLS Cup soccer match against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, in Seattle. Vanney has stepped down as coach of Toronto FC. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP Photo-Elaine Thompson
Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney steps down, says it’s the right time to move on

Toronto FC coach Greg Vanney steps down, says it’s the right time to move on

Hamilton Forge FC's Giuliano Frano (8) heads the ball against CD Olimpia's Jorge Benguche (9) during Scotiabank CONCACAF League 2019 second half soccer action in Hamilton, Ontario on Thursday, August 22, 2019. Forge FC looks to win its way into the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League on Tuesday when it takes on Haiti's Arcahaie FC in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF League, a 22-team feeder competition that sends six clubs to CONCACAF's elite club tournament. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Forge FC loses penalty shootout to Haitian side in CONCACAF League quarterfinal

Forge FC loses penalty shootout to Haitian side in CONCACAF League quarterfinal

Public health must balance science and society: former top doctor

Public health must balance science and society: former top doctor

California boat captain indicted in fire that killed 34

California boat captain indicted in fire that killed 34

President Donald Trump participates in a video teleconference call with members of the military on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020, at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump headed to Georgia as runoff boost, but also a threat

Trump headed to Georgia as runoff boost, but also a threat

Flames and exhaust trail behind a Long March-5 rocket carrying the Chang'e 5 lunar mission after it lifted off at the Wenchang Space Launch Center in Wenchang in southern China's Hainan Province, early Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. China launched an ambitious mission on Tuesday to bring back material from the moon's surface for the first time in more than 40 years — an undertaking that could boost human understanding of the moon and of the solar system more generally. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
China spacecraft lands on moon to bring rocks back to Earth

China spacecraft lands on moon to bring rocks back to Earth

FILE - In this March 16, 2020, file photo, vials used by pharmacists to prepare syringes used on the first day of a first-stage safety study clinical trial of the potential vaccine for COVID-19 rest on a lab table at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. An influential scientific panel on Tuesday, Dec. 1, is set to tackle one of the most pressing questions in the U.S. coronavirus epidemic: When the first doses of COVID-19 vaccine become available, who should be at the front of the line for shots? (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
US panel: 1st vaccines to health care workers, nursing homes

US panel: 1st vaccines to health care workers, nursing homes

Most Read