We along with 193 other residents of Aspen Ridge, submitted letters to the City of Red Deer opposing the application to redesignate Aspen Ridge school site to a K-12 site.
A key fact that is being ignored and /or misrepresented by a school representative, whom is quoted by the Advocate as saying “It’s a sad state when they don’t want a school in their neighbourhood,” when the truth of the matter is that the site is already designated for a school and the residents are opposed to the change to a K-12 school.
The site was originally designated for a elementary school and was changed to a K-8, a further change to K-12 school is a significant change to any neighbourhood and is not acceptable to many residents of Aspen Ridge and we suspect it would not be acceptable to residents in many other neighbourhoods.
The proposed K-12 school does not meet the policy direction of either the East Hill Major Area Structure Plan (MASP), which states that “High school sites are positioned at the edge of quarter sections next to arterial roadways,” or the Aspen Ridge Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan (NASP). In short, the subdivision was never designed for a high school, either as a whole or in this case, in part, at the interior of the subdivision.
The school should be constructed at in accordance with the MASP and the policies that were established for the development of the area. A departure from established planning practices by the City of Red Deer, for even a small high school, should not be acceptable. The precedent for permitting high schools, big or small, in the interior of residential subdivisions would not be a positive change to our community.
To give an example of the impact even this small K-12 school would have over a K-8 school can be shown in the parking requirements. The original 450 student school would require 18 parking stalls (one stall per classroom), the proposed K-12 school requires 40 stalls for students and staff. The proposed school design has 47 stalls shown on the drawings. More than double the amount of stalls.
School representatives have stated that very few students will drive. However, in the real world, once a student gets a licence and access to a vehicle, they do not ride the “cheese wagon” anymore. Personal experience as parents and a drive past any high school will confirm this.
The transportation review completed for the school identifies Ackerman Crescent, Assinger Avenue and Allwright Close as being suitable for overflow parking for the school. This is also indicated on the Q&A form shown on the school website. Parking is only one of a multitude of issues that would affect the surrounding area by ignoring the design policy used for the development of the neighbourhood.
The first question we have for the school board and the planning department is: how and why didn’t anybody bother to incorporate a properly designed school site in any of the recently designed and constructed subdivisions for this K-12 school in Red Deer? This project must have been planned for years!
The second question we have is: why should the plans and policies that our neighbourhoods were designed and constructed with be ignored and cast aside due to a failure to plan?
Proper planning is done to positively shape the future of our community, retroactive tinkering is typically done to accommodate poor decisions and hide a failure to properly plan.
As we see it, the question for city council to decide is: do they follow the planning guidelines and policies in place or do they retroactively tinker to change policies, which the proposed project does not conform with?
Paul and Sandra Beaumont