Area structure plan approval angers residents

Red Deer County residents fighting a proposed multi-lot subdivision were crying foul after a short-handed council approved a plan for the project.

Red Deer County residents fighting a proposed multi-lot subdivision were crying foul after a short-handed council approved a plan for the project.

Nearly 30 residents went to the mic at Red Deer County Centre on Tuesday afternoon to voice their opposition to the proposal to build the 39-lot Poplar Pointe Estates about five km west of Red Deer near the Poplar Ridge and Harvey Heights subdivisions.

Many were concerned that the project would deplete precious drinking water resources, put nearby subdivisions at risk from sewage leaks and overcrowd local roadways.

Residents also questioned why Mayor Jim Wood and the councillor for the area, Christine Moore, were excluded from the public hearing and vote on an area structure plan for the development.

The two were absent on the advice of county lawyers because of questions of bias.

After council voted against the area structure plan on Feb. 2 the developer raised concerns that the mayor and councillor may have heard information at a resident-organized public meeting they attended several days earlier that influenced their decision.

Wood said later the pair were careful only to speak briefly to residents about the planning process and did not participate in the meeting. However, he acknowledged that perception of bias is what matters in law and the two should not have attended. Both had voted against the area structure plan.

To remove any perception of bias, the lawyers advised a second public hearing be held without the participation of Moore or Wood.

Without those two voting, an area structure plan for the project was approved 3-2 on Tuesday, with councillors Connie Huelsman and Jean Bota opposed.

“Why was our mayor and councillor excluded from this process?” asked Philip Ignacio outside council chambers.

Sandra Hengstler said residents feel that council ignored their concerns.

“We weren’t heard. Nobody was heard,” said Hengstler.

“It’s very wrong that the mayor and Coun. Christine Moore were excluded from this meeting,” said Carol Cunningham. “They represent our voice.”

Cunningham was among many residents who feared adding 39 more homes would deplete water supplies. When her father bought their land in 1948 the water was “wonderful,” she said.

“Now, I don’t want my dog to drink it.”

Coun. Philip Massier told residents the project is a long way from getting final approvals. Concerns about water, sewage and traffic can be addressed before subdivision is approved, he said.

Massier said he liked that the developers were proposing a “state-of-the-art” communal sewage treatment system and the development will be required to tie into a regional water and sewage systems when they become available.

More stringent regulations are in place now for multi-lot subdivisions compared with years ago, he said.

“We have learnt from past mistakes. I think we’re trying to address concerns.”

Coun. Richard Lorenz said concerns about traffic, water and sewer will be addressed before subdivision approval and joined Coun. Don Church in voting in favour.

Coun. Bota said water availability is becoming more of an issue and she preferred new development wait for a regional sewer line.

“At this time, I cannot support this because I think there’s way more homework to be done.”

Developer Reg Whyte was pleased with council’s decision and is confident in the hydrogeology reports that show there is plenty of water available for the development.

A hydrogeologist, who had reviewed water studies for the project, said at the pubic hearing there was enough water for a development double the size. He presented a map showing that there are areas of low, medium and high water availability throughout the area.

Some of the homes experiencing water trouble are in low water supply areas, he said. Other well problems, including defects and bacteria buildup may also be leading to the issues some residents were facing.

Whyte said he has no timeline on when he expects to return to council for subdivision approval.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

The RDC Queens picked up an extra special victory on home ice… Continue reading

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

‘Stupid’ law preventing Canada’s re-engagement with Iran: retired envoy

OTTAWA — The real reason the Liberal government hasn’t been able to… Continue reading

Voters head to polls for BC municipal elections today

VANCOUVER — Voters in British Columbia will head to the polls today… Continue reading

All sharks tagged in N.S. expedition can now be tracked on Ocearch website

HALIFAX — All six of the sharks tagged in Nova Scotian waters… Continue reading

Memorial service for former PQ minister Lise Payette today in Montreal

MONTREAL — Mourners will gather to remember former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister… Continue reading

Immunotherapy scores a first win against some breast cancers

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown… Continue reading

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Most Read