Walkability key for new neighbourhood

Paying homage to a former owner, Benceley is the name for a new walkable neighbourhood east of Rosedale and Davenport. Once developed the roughly two-quarter sections of land will become the first neighbourhood east of the future 20th Avenue in Red Deer. In recent years the city has been growing northeast and this will be the first movement inching east to its growth boundary.

Paying homage to a former owner, Benceley is the name for a new walkable neighbourhood east of Rosedale and Davenport.

Once developed the roughly two-quarter sections of land will become the first neighbourhood east of the future 20th Avenue in Red Deer. In recent years the city has been growing northeast and this will be the first movement inching east to its growth boundary.

The area has been predominantly used for farming as early as the 1950s and drilled for oil and gas development since about the 1960s.

David Girardin, a city senior planner, said the land will be developed into mostly residential but there will be a significant commercial portion.

The draft Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan (NASP) is bounded by 20th Avenue to the west, 39th Street to the south, and 55th Street (Hwy 11) to the north. The walkability and connections are two of the big selling points for the new neighbourhood, says Girardin.

“It’s one of first plans that really exemplify the nine new planning principles adopted in 2013,” said Girardin. “The street network goes back to being a modified grid. Whereas in neighbourhoods that we have been building in the last 15-20 years have been more a curvilinear (design).”

The nine principles include natural areas, mixed land uses, multi-modal choice, compact urban form and density, integrated parks and community spaces, housing opportunity and choice, low impact neighbourhoods, unique and safe and secure neighbourhoods.

Girardin said Timberlands North is a good example of the principles but they will be more pronounced in Benceley.

“It will be slightly higher density but nothing extreme,” he said. “Just a little more people on the street. Try to push people out to their front yards. That type of idea.”

A variety of housing types are included in the plans from low density (R1) to high density (R3).

The neighbourhood boasts a park focus, park-facing housing, carriage home lots and commercial uses. There will be proposed access to 55th Street and 30th Street from 20th Avenue through a “right in, right out” movement.

Two gas wells remain active on the southeast corner, and an oil well has since been abandoned in the southwest corner of the north quarter.

“There will be some consideration given to setbacks,” said Girardin. “They won’t be able to develop that area until it has been decommissioned and (other steps). That’s new for the City of Red Deer in terms of having an active site within a site that is proposed to be developed. There is a plan to work through it.”

Residents will have a chance to provide input on the draft at the Benceley NASP Open House at the Deer Park Church (2960 39 St.) from 3 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Future land use, roads, parks and trails, utility infrastructure, storm water management, and residential density will be displayed for viewing and input.

Girardin expects there will be questions about the future 20th Avenue, which falls outside the NASP. A spokesperson from the city’s engineering department will be on hand to answer questions.

A copy of the NASP is available under the Open Houses section at www.reddeer.ca.

Comments will be accepted until March 3 by mail, at City Hall (4914 48 Ave.) or email (david.girardin@reddeer.ca)

A finalized NASP is expected to be at council for consideration and public hearing by the end of May.

crhyno@bprda.wpengine.com

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