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Controversial development proposal near Shadow Mountain passes third reading

Supporters say proposal could kickstart further development, opponents concerned with land-use fit
Cranbrook city council passed third reading of a proposed planning amendment that would facilitate a development opposite the Shadow Mountain boundary.

City council has passed third reading of a planning amendment that would pave the way for a controversial multi-family development proposal near Shadow Mountain, in spite of heavy opposition from local residents.

The proposal, which features 50 duplex units and 28 townhouse units, is located on four hectares of property off Parnaby Road east of Highway 95A on the opposite side of the Shadow Mountain Comprehensive Development Zone boundary.

Councillors Wes Graham, Wayne Price, John Hudak and Ron Popoff voted in favour, while Councillors Norma Blissett and Mike Peabody were opposed. Mayor Lee Pratt was not in attendance at Monday’s meeting.

The proposed project was touted by those in favour as a way to kickstart stagnant development in the Shadow Mountain area, while opposition centered on the contrasting land use fit in a neighbourhood that includes rural properties and hobby farms, impacts to wildlife habitat, fire protection concerns, and lack of sewer infrastructure and amenities such as parkspace and sidewalks.

A public hearing before the council meeting included feedback from nearby affected residents, a former city councillor and also a consultant representing the developer.

Councillor Wayne Price noted his concerns that the Shadow Mountain development has been languishing for years, even thought the Parnaby Road proposal isn’t within the Shadow Mountain Comprehensive Development Zone.

“I said it last meeting, something like this is needed to kickstart that,” Price said. “Again, I’ll say it — if New Dawn Development had not gone into Wildstone, I can guarantee it would look like it did five years ago with random housing, and that’s what we have out at Shadow Mountain right now.

“And until we get a major developer that comes in there and does something of some scope or scale, I’m just really concerned that we’re not going to see development moving forward and that development isn’t going to pay it’s way.”

Over a dozen years ago, the city council of the day extended the municipal boundary north to annex the Shadow Mountain area ahead of anticipated development. However, the so-called ‘Great Recession’ halted the overall development vision, and the land has been sold to multiple property owners.

However, the Parnaby Rd. proposal is on the opposite side of the Shadow Mountain development zone boundary, and is contained within the St. Mary Neighbourhood Plan, which designates the proposed property as Urban Reserve.

Councillor Popoff said that the current council has inherited the ongoing and historic issues associated with Shadow Mountain and the St. Mary Neighbourhood Plan.

“This Lot 5 is part of that neighbourhood plan, and whether it’s today, or it’s 10 years from now, once all the sewer servicing and everything else comes in, there will be a scheme to put in all the infrastructure into all the stratas that make up this plan at the cost of the developers,” Popoff said. “They’ll be hooking up to our water and sanitary sewer and there will be an urbanized neighbourhood plan, as the neighbourhood plan indicates.

Councillors Norma Blissett and Mike Peabody spoke in opposition to the development proposal.

“I think its in conflict with the rural nature of that area, I think it will diminish…not necessarily property values, but even the aesthetics of that area and also why people live out there, why people bought in Shadow Mountain, why people have bought on Parnaby Road,” said Councillor Norma Blissett.

“I don’t want to be a part of ruining an area for everybody and I think, really, that’s what we’re doing. I realize there’s different opinions on that, but I don’t think it’s suitable for multi-family housing; I’m always in favour of multi-family housing in town on bus routes, and where I think it’s suitable. I don’t think it’s suitable in the countryside.”

Peabody agreed, raising concerns on land-use fit and road access from Highway 95A, noting that while that is the purview of the Ministry of Transporation and Infrastructure, it took a long time to address the Theatre Road intersection at the highway.

“Looking at what they are proposing, it doesn’t fit in with the type of homes and hobby farms that are already in the neighbourhood,” Peabody said, “and I think this will negatively affect the families and the individuals living out there and it will negatively affect their way of life and general happiness.”

The specific changes sought by the developer included amending the Official Community Plan (OCP) to add new housing options such as low density residential, while also seeking a rezoning change for inclusion into the Shadow Mountain Comprehensive Development Zone.

During the public hearing, nearby residents who were universally opposed to the development proposal spoke their concerns on land use and neighbourhood fit amongst rural hobby farms, fire protection from the City of Cranbrook, traffic access from the Hghway 95A intersection, lack of transit, and impacts to wildlife habitat.

Lianna Swanson, who owns two properties on both sides of the development proposal, echoed many of the similar concerns raised through the public hearing, as well as from over 30 letters submitted to city hall.

Swanson noted that golfers from Shadow Mountain trespass on her property, which runs along the 13th fairway, and added that potential residents of the proposed development may feel inclined to use her property as green space, causing conflict with her animals and livestock.

“I’m terribly concerned with encroachment on my property, whether or not they put a fence along it, which brings with it other issues with wildlife movement,” Swanson told council during the public hearing.

Sharon Cross, a former city councillor, castigated the past decision to include Shadow Mountain into the city’s municipal boundary, calling it an “ill-conceived land-use planning decision worsened by the developer’s shotgun approach, rather than phasing in the development.”

The property is owned by Oasis at the Dunes, a company based out of Red Deer, AB. A consultant noted the company would put a covenant on the property to restrict development until sewer infrastructure is built out to the area, while also adding a nuisance covenant, that potential residents are aware of the implications of living near properties with farming and livestock.

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Trevor Crawley

About the Author: Trevor Crawley

Trevor Crawley has been a reporter with the Cranbrook Townsman and Black Press in various roles since 2011.
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