Neighbours fear planning switch will boost industrial traffic

A new plan for Red Deer’s northernmost reaches changes a large area earlier proposed for housing into commercial and industrial use.

A new plan for Red Deer’s northernmost reaches changes a large area earlier proposed for housing into commercial and industrial use.

It’s a switch residents in the area aren’t happy with, said Gary Davis, who has lived on the C&E Trail for 25 years.

Davis and his neighbours fear that the already-increasing industrial traffic on the scenic winding road will only increase with the changes proposed in the city’s North of Hwy 11A Major Area Structure Plan.

“We call it the northern autobahn,” said Davis, at a Wednesday afternoon open house at the Quality Inn North Hill. “The speeds and the traffic have increased dramatically.”

The route is also popular with cyclists and hikers, and anything to encourage more industrial and commercial traffic should be avoided, he believes.

“It’s a safety thing.”

Not only trucks and couriers are a problem. Drivers looking for the adrenaline rush of speed and curved roads have already led to two vehicles and one motorcyclist ending up in the trees outside his home this year alone.

City of Red Deer master projects planner Angus Schaffenburg said several factors went into the switched land use just north of Hwy 11A and east of C&E Trail.

The city could use more commercial and light industrial land, he said. As well, CP Rail’s reluctance to see homes built up to its existing rail line along with changing safety and setback standards were considerations.

Safety would be considered before any new development was approved. Introducing more non-residential activity into the area would come with road upgrades, sidewalks and trails to keep pedestrians and vehicles apart.

The master plan envisions a large residential area mostly on the west side of C&E Trail to Hwy 2. Commercial and industrial zones will be located on both sides of Hwy 2A, an extension of current development patterns.

Hazlett Lake will remain a major park, but land considered for a regional community facility has been downgraded to a more neighbourhood-scale facility.

Holes still remain in the latest planning document. The possible land use area in a bend in the Red Deer River, opposite River Bend Golf Course and Recreation Area, remains undetermined.

Schaffenburg said flood hazard mapping will need to be done before a use can be proposed.

“What’s the river going to do in 50 years? How can we mitigate against what climate change might do?” he suggested as questions that experts will need to answer.

Similar work needs to be done around Hazlett Lake to determine its high water mark and what setbacks should be enforced.

How to deal with future development around a long-abandoned 1960s-era landfill north of Hazlett Lake is also under review.

About 40 people, many of them developers or their consultants, attended the afternoon session.

Schaffenburg said developers will drive the building process in the area and they have already shown considerable interest.

It is expected the plan will go to council by November or December.