Turner Valley eager for town square
By: Tammy Rollie
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014 08:38 am
Construction of a multi-million dollar block of businesses and recreational services in a small foothills community may begin this year.
Turner Valley Town Council discussed minor changes to the 2011 town square concept plan at its committee of the whole meeting earlier this month and Mayor Kelly Tuck expects final approval of the project will take place this spring so the Town can begin work.
“I’m really looking forward to being able to establish some partnerships and being able to go ahead,” she said. “We need to have a clear direction for the town.”
The plan proposes the construction of an outdoor café, sunken plaza, indoor shops, farmers market, motorcycle rest area, community centre and visitor information centre north and east of the Sheep River Library. The Diamond Valley Chamber of Commerce expressed interest recently in relocating its visitor information centre from Turner Valley to Black Diamond due to poor visibility and lack of services.
Tuck said the plan is a high priority for the new council to attract tourism and businesses to its little community, but its success will depend on funding.
“I anticipate development over the next four years but I’m not clear what that’s going to look like right now because it’s going to come to dollars and identifying new or existing businesses that want to build on that side of town,” she said.
Although the Town is still working on the 2014 budget, Tuck hopes it can put money aside to get the project started this year. It will also apply for grants and make partnerships to help fund the project.
The Town allocated $218,000 in last year’s budget to install a water main this spring to service the proposed town square and the Foothills Lions Club Spray Park, expected to begin operation in June.
The revised concept has the buildings frame a sunken plaza in the centre, with 270 parking stalls on the outer perimeter.
“It’s going to draw people to the centre,” Tuck said. “You could be sitting reading a book in the town plaza while your kids are at the spray park. It brings all of those components together.”
The Sheep River Library, Dr. Lander Memorial Swimming Pool and a playground are already located in the area. The plan suggests removing the 39-year-old Flare ‘n’ Derrick Community Hall, which is nearing its life expectancy, the outdoor skating rink, which will be relocated to the plaza with removable boards in winter, and the soccer fields and campground, which are in the discussion phases for relocation.
While presenting the revised design to council, Turner Valley town planner Matthew Atkinson said having the buildings surrounded by parking creates added protection for pedestrians.
“It increases walkability and creates a central pedestrian only walkway area and keeps the parking and traffic to the outside,” he explained. “This increases safety for the spray park.”
He said it also creates a spill over from restaurants, retail businesses and the market area into the town square without residents and visitors having to walk through parking areas.
Although the revision does decrease the number of parking stalls by 20 from the original plan, Atkinson said it still puts the proposal at 50 stalls over the land use bylaw requirements for the uses proposed.
Coun. Dona Fluter said she likes the changes proposed in the revised plan, but asked if it would be beneficial to direct the flow of traffic in one direction.
Atkinson told Fluter it is not necessary for this design, and added some visitors would then have to drive the whole perimeter of the parking lot to access one building.
“I think two accesses are important,” he told her.
Also supporting the changes were Coun. Barry Williamson and Barry Crane. Crane said he finds the design more efficient.