Planning out future growth in Red Deer, or any city, based on the principals of unlimited land supply, unlimited capital (for land acquisition), and unlimited population base to purchase said lands and build homes, you need one heck of a crystal ball.
I would not want to look into the possible future and predict such things.
Having lived in Red Deer for nearly two decades now, I have seen much change, and many miscues.
At present, I have been watching and observing.
Based on present plans (West Park/Molly Bannister), I believe the worst is yet to come.
In 1995, when the extension of Molly Bannister across the Piper Creek was proposed, it was defeated. The most recent suggestion across the ravine area is sure to incite an incredible amount of opposition, this time, I am not so sure City Hall (and planning), will cede loss.
Our population has changed and grown.
The ‘need’ for such pristine land may not be enough to defeat the needs of the driving public to go home faster. The cost is high.
A wrong decision will cost millions, and in the end future generations of a jewel within Red Deer. Surely, the Bower lands near 30th may go to the City soon. I hope not. I truly enjoy seeing the farm site within City limits, just as much as I appreciate the Bower Natural Area (soon to be devastated).
However, the re-introduction of such a road will cause factions within the City, and it is not a decision to consider lightly.
I do not know if future generations will curse or bless this council if a decision has to be made.
That said, if the City of Red Deer is planning to be a more travelable city, with bike paths, bussing, and walking paths then perhaps the two groups had better get together.
A road across the creek will destroy a priceless gem of nature that few cities can claim. With road widths and traffic counts a high concern, why not design the City a more public transport option, to dissuade single car drivers instead of encouraging them? Certainly, more efficient vehicles will consume less fuel, so the cost of travel is not as much of an issue, and zero emission vehicles are not a concern.
It is the infrastructure costs and maintenance that will kill our City.
How can Red Deer encourage drivers to car pool, to use public transit, to bike instead of drive? Is it too late for our mobile population?
This, I believe is our challenge. How does planning honour what is present, with what is ‘required?’
On a related note, the West Park plan is very beautiful, but dangerous, like the Molly Bannister crossing.
I noticed that there is to be a high density area near the edge of West Park. Right where single family homes are now.
A couple of questions, where are these folks to live? Who will bear the cost of the demolition and development of said homes? These are older homes, and will contain asbestos, what about the environment? I wonder which developer is behind this plan?
It can’t be the City, who already has a dearth of vacant land and buildings, so, who is it? Has Qualico stepped up to be the ‘developer of choice?’
What about cutting through the school grounds? Another bad idea. Land already utilized by a school? For high density apartments? If you think that there was a fight in Clearview, just wait. Exactly what is Store Hill anyway?
I would suggest you be very careful in your usage of that area, it just might be a burial mound from the 1850s. Think smallpox.
Lastly, I realize this is a long letter, but I have one more point to make.
The City has carved great neighbourhoods out of prime farm land with great enthusiasm. What about planning apartments within those neighbourhoods, or making a mandatory 10% apartment area in those?
Our land supply is not endless, and eventually, food supply will be affected and we will see more sour gas, and pipeline-related issues.
The end is not yet come for those.
Economic considerations aside, all it takes is one blow-out, and let’s see how safe those new neighbourhoods are. If you have ever traveled to Calgary, the sheer sprawling nature of the city with single family neighbourhoods, could be Red Deer in 30 years.
Or it could be Red Deer in 50 years, with planning for multi-family complexes, apartments and developments.
We cannot develop land without conscience, the cost will not be borne now but rather in 20 or 30 years. Let us count the cost, and consider the alternatives. As I said before, the worst is yet to come if we do not heed the warnings while they are still faint.