Proposed planning amendments that would facilitate a housing development near Shadow Mountain is heading to a public hearing.
City council passed second reading of a proposed tweak to planning and zoning bylaws that would permit the construction of 50 duplexes and 28 townhouse units on a four-hectare property on Parnaby Road, which is located on the opposite side of the Shadow Mountain Comprehensive Development Zone boundary.
The issue touched off a debate at the council table on Monday night, pitting concerns over a lack of development out at Shadow Mountain — since the city’s boundary was extended to annex the area — against the fears of urban sprawl and the implications to city services and resources.
Councillor Wayne Price said that city council has inherited those ongoing issues with development around the Shadow Mountain area, noting that the Parnaby Road proposal could serve as a “boost” that could potentially encourage further and future development of nearby properties.
“I believe that this development is that type of development that will boost it, so I guess my point here is if we kill this development request, are we going to be, in part, responsible for killing the future of that [Shadow Mountain] development?” Price asked. “Because make no mistake, random house-building, in developments that size, you’ll never see the end of it, you’ll never see full development, it’ll be years and years before we see half development, and see adequate taxes that the city’s going to make to even cover the costs of the city maintenance and the city’s responsibilities there.”
Councillor Norma Blissett, the lone vote against the second reading, said she was concerned with urban sprawl and impacts to local wildlife.
“It’s a long way from downtown Cranbrook and I really don’t think it’s suited to multi-family development,” Blissett said. “The housing that surrounds it is rural acreages, so it is a rural area, and there aren’t other services in the area, so I’m not in favour of that. I am in favour of multi-family housing in the city core, with access to services, public transit and amenities, but not that far from the city centre.
“I’m also quite concerned about wildlife issues in the area. It’s already being used by deer and elk and badgers and other grassland species and I wouldn’t want to see it taken over by housing. I think we have enough wildlife conflicts in Cranbrook to deal with and I really don’t want to create more and I think it should be left as is.”
A number of letters against the proposal have already been submitted to the city, citing similar concerns over the land-use of multi-family residential in a rural area, the urban-wildland interface given recent record-breaking wildfire seasons, and potential impacts to wildlife habitat.
Much of the opposition comes from area residents who live near the proposed development site or at Shadow Mountain.
“We are adamantly opposed to proposed multiple family residential rezoning for many reasons, but ultimately because, we and our neighbours purchased property and built our homes here seeking a quiet and peaceful lifestyle that will not be respected or protected if the development moves forward,” wrote Dr. Fraser Bowden, in a letter submitted to city council.
The public hearing for the planning changes will be held at the next council meeting at 6 p.m. on Monday, March 14.
The whole of the “Shadow Mountain” development area has been ever-changing since the financial fallout from the so-called Great Recession over a decade ago. While the city council of the day approved a boundary extension to bring the development into the municipal fold, the land has fractured into separate properties with multiple owners.
However, development on the eastern side of the Highway 95A is guided by the city’s St. Mary’s Neighbourhood Plan, as defined in the Official Community Plan (OCP).
As per the application from the developer for the proposed Parnaby Road project, an amendment to the plan would add a new policy section for Low Density Multi-Family Residential and change the OCP land-use designation to facilitate rezoning of the property.
All properties along that stretch of road are currently zoned under a rural residential or hobby farm designation.
There is existing city water infrastructure along Parnaby Road, however, the property is not serviced by sewer systems, which would be the responsibility of the developer to connect to existing infrastructure.
In a related matter, the city is currently determining options and costs for Shadow Mountain property owners and developers to connect to municipal sanitary sewer infrastructure through a Local Area Service (LAS). An LAS facilitates construction of a utility service and benefits a certain area, with costs borne by only the affected residents rather than the broader City of Cranbrook taxpayers.
The city estimates that it will cost just under $9 million to bring sewer service to Shadow Mountain, which would connect from the existing system at Mennie Rd near Echo Field Rd.
Shadow Mountain is currently serviced by an onsite sewer holding tank system that requires storing and trucking sewage.
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