Striking a balance between economic and residential development in Red Deer’s Timberlands area is something all city councillors are in favour of.
Motions to rezone 70 Thorburn Avenue from residential to commercial, as well as rezone Townsend Street from commercial to residential, were carried unanimously by councillors Monday.
The zoning swap ensures that density targets are maintained in the neighbourhood and that there are sufficient commercial options available, city administration explained prior to voting.
Coun. Buck Buchanan, who was opposed to the idea during first reading, was in favour this time.
Coun. Tanya Handley said the original proposal – to remove residential and add commercial to the neighbourhood – wasn’t well balanced.
“This (swap) has struck a balance between maintaining the density targets in the neighbourhood and variety of housing, and also offering new commercial opportunities,” she said.
Letters to city council noted at least two businesses have interest in setting up shop in the northeast quadrant of the city: Dairy Queen and OK Tire.
“Our concern is that if these businesses cannot find an appropriate location that they could choose not to expand, or worse, from a tax revenue perspective, they may take their demand to Gasoline Alley,” read one of the letters.
Coun. Vesna Higham said this is an opportunity to embrace economic development, and the market has spoken. “Or, we’re all very aware other business-friendly jurisdictions will be more than happy to accommodate and capitalize on it,” she said.
Coun. Ken Johnston said approving the swap sends a strong message that Red Deer is open for business.
“It’s a win-win for everyone,” he said.
Coun. Michael Dawe agreed the rezoning makes sense.
“You have a high-traffic corridor with 30th Avenue. We have done a number of improvements there for traffic flow,” said Dawe.
“If I was looking for a higher-density residence, I probably wouldn’t want to be so close to such a high-traffic intersection, so these are businesses that may be coming through that fit in well with that high-traffic, high-visibility location.”