Traffic now must turn from Molly Banister Drive onto Barrett Drive, east of Bower Place mall. There is no through-route over Piper Creek and the park trails to 40th Avenue, but a developer says it needs to know if a road is a future possibility. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).

‘The future is now:’ The City of Red Deer must decide about future Molly Banister expansion

Public opinions can be expressed through an online survey

The City of Red Deer has decided to grapple with a controversial issue once pushed far into the future — whether to eventually extend Molly Banister Drive through a green space to connect it with 40th Avenue.

“The future is now,” said senior planner Christi Fidek, who’s seeking input in a public survey on the city’s website.

While Red Deer hasn’t yet hit the 115,000 to 180,000 population benchmark that planners figure should trigger discussions about the road extension, a developer is planning a new subdivision on land east of Piper Creek, Barrett Drive and the Bower Place mall.

Melcor Developments Ltd. needs to know whether a four-lane roadway will someday intersect this yet undeveloped land off 40th Avenue, between the Sunnybrook and Southbrook neighbourhoods.

While the extension of Molly Banister Drive is not in the City of Red Deer’s 10-year capital plan, a protected alignment for a potential future roadway expansion is marked on development and structural plans for the area.

Guy Pelletier, vice-president of the Red Deer region for Melcor, believes all of Red Deer would be better served by having a new park on a part of this land, instead of a diagonal roadway dividing park trails and a new crossing Piper Creek.

The Bower family had kept this “special property” intact for 120 years, said Pelletier.

Melcor recently purchased it for development, but he admitted it would be difficult to plan a pleasing new subdivision with an S-shaped future road alignment bisecting it to connect Molly Banister Drive with 40th Avenue and 22nd Street.

While the company aims to create a new neighbourhood on the part of property now used as a cattle pasture, Melcor aims to preserve the treed area on the east side of Piper Creek.

Pelletier envisions this as a publicly accessible green space that links with the existing trail system between 19th Street and the Red Deer River.

This was also the vision of many local environmentalists, who had urged the city not to fragment the trails with a road when the proposed Molly Banister extension was discussed a decade or more ago.

Seniors living in an adult community near Barrett Drive had also argued against the noise they would hear if Molly Banister Drive was extended and traffic increased past their homes.

But some planners and Red Deer motorists felt this road extension will be needed in future to provide better traffic flow towards the Bower Place mall and South Red Deer. If Red Deer doesn’t plan and allow for an eventual expansion, the opportunity will be lost, they said.

Other options that were considered were a future widening of 32nd and 19th Streets. And Pelletier feels these will still be viable alternatives.

He noted Red Deer’s growth has slowed, with most of it now happening in the north. It will take decades to hit a population of 188,000 — which is when some kind of road project would be needed.

Fidek feels it’s important for the city to hear from citizens on this matter.

Hundreds of letters were sent to inform residents of Bower, Anders, Sunnybrook, Southbrook and Inglewood of the survey. All city residents can access it on until Jan. 13.

Planning manager Emily Damberger said survey results will be assessed — along with additional input from residents and business owners, planners and the parks department.

She expects to have a recommendation before city council in the second quarter of 2020.

Red Deer City Council

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

Just Posted

Rimbey textile artists creating hand-made masks

Group has also been helped out by a local business

People ‘can count on’ Alberta RCMP amid COVID-19 pandemic, says deputy commissioner

Albertans “can count on the RCMP every day” during the COVID-19 pandemic,… Continue reading

Central Albertans win big in 2020 STARS Lottery

A few central Albertans won big in the 2020 STARS lottery. Jeff… Continue reading

107 new cases of COVID-19 in Alberta, 5 additional deaths

More than 1,000 cases in Alberta total

WATCH: Red Deer emergency call centre hours change starting next week

Hours at the City of Red Deer’s COVID-19 emergency call centre will… Continue reading

Alberta Health Services provides COVID-19 prevention tips

Alberta Health Services has a number of recommendations for people amid the… Continue reading

Alberta government website has latest COVID-19 statistics

Red Deer Advocate readers can stay up to date on the COVID-19… Continue reading

Taste of home schooling generating new interest among parents

Selena Valencia is on the fence when it comes to home-schooling her… Continue reading

‘The Charter still applies’: Canadians urged to monitor civil liberties during pandemic

Civil rights advocates say citizens need to be vigilant about how authorities are using new powers

Essential workers talk about how COVID-19 affects them

Health-care workers, grocery store staff, transit drivers and food delivery workers are… Continue reading

Sister of woman found dead last month is accused of first-degree murder

/COQUITLAM, B.C. — A first-degree murder charge has been laid against the… Continue reading

Trudeau announces more financial help for country’s most vulnerable

$40 million will go to Women and Gender Equality Canada

Most Read