Prim­rose plan at MPC this week, then on to coun­cil

Medicine Hat News - - HOMETOWN NEWS - COLLIN GAL­LANT cgal­lant@medicine­hat­ Twit­ter: CollinGal­lant

A plan to re­zone greenspace near Prim­rose Drive for a po­ten­tial hous­ing devel­op­ment will ap­pear at Wed­nes­day’s meet­ing of the mu­nic­i­pal plan­ning com­mis­sion though a group of res­i­dents is also plan­ning their op­po­si­tion.

“Peo­ple are re­ally, gen­uinely an­gry about this,” said Con­naught area res­i­dent Robin Cowan. “It’s a beau­ti­ful space. It’s not ex­cess land, as they say.”

Of­fi­cials with the city’s land and prop­er­ties of­fice say they are act­ing on a strate­gic pri­or­ity laid down by city coun­cil to eval­u­ate the city’s land in­ven­tory and mar­ket land not needed for mu­nic­i­pal pur­poses for pri­vate devel­op­ment.

Drop-in in­for­ma­tion ses­sions for neigh­bours, they say, was to in­form the com­mu­nity of what was pro­posed.

“The goal was to in­form the neigh­bours about the po­ten­tial des­ig­na­tion ... and in­form them how to voice their con­cerns,” said Jane Zwicker of the land depart­ment of­fice. “It’s ul­ti­mately coun­cil’s de­ci­sion as the reg­u­la­tor.”

The item could po­ten­tially re­ceive first read­ing at city coun­cil on Nov. 19, mean­ing a pub­lic hear­ing on the change would be held in De­cem­ber.

The change also fits with a city devel­op­ment goal of spurring new higher-den­sity hous­ing along ma­jor routes in es­tab­lished neigh­bour­hoods. That is seen as the most cost-ef­fec­tive way to in­crease the tax assess­ment base and add pop­u­la­tion den­sity, with­out in­cur­ring devel­op­ment costs re­lated to new sub­di­vi­sions.

Cowan and other res­i­dents how­ever, say the land is too close to ma­jor in­ter­sec­tions, and the idea re­sem­bles a de­feated plan to build con­dos there in the late 1990s.

Since then, he ar­gues, traf­fic has only in­creased, and af­ter pub­lic in­for­ma­tion ses­sions showed strong op­po­si­tion, he won­ders why city ad­min­is­tra­tors haven’t aban­doned the idea.

“Is it the de­vel­op­ers who have all the in­flu­ence at city hall? It’s not the peo­ple of Medicine Hat.”

An ap­pli­ca­tion to re­zone the land from “open space” to medium-den­sity res­i­den­tial, would al­low a condo block or town­houses.

Land depart­ment of­fi­cials say the ma­jor route can han­dle the traf­fic and have pro­posed that ac­cess would be made off Prim­rose Drive, which winds through the quiet com­mu­nity of Con­naught.

Also this fall, the land depart­ment re­leased a list of four other prop­er­ties in the city that would be newly placed on the mar­ket, or see price re­duc­tions in or­der to has­ten sales.

They in­clude a lot next to the Moose Ball Di­a­monds, which had been sub­ject of an can­celled of­fer from land de­vel­oper last year, land set aside for a fire­hall in Cres­cent heights fac­ing Divi­sion Av­enue, and lots be­side Luther Manor in the Flats and an­other on Al­lowance Ave.

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