DeWinton won’t be part of the big city

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The City may be inching further south, but it won’t be taking as much land as originally considered.

A public open house at the DeWinton Community Hall on Oct. 27 revealed revisions to a draft intermunicipal development plan between the City of Calgary and the MD of Foothills. It was the fourth time the plan was taken to the public, and showed a scaled-back version of the City’s future growth.

“We took a really hard look at the area, and what the big change was in the Calgary growth area has changed,” said Diane Shearer, Calgary senior planner of intergovernmental and corporate strategy. “We’ve really pulled back.”

At a March 2 open house, the growth area showed the City was looking at future annexation of 19 sections of land in the MD, including the hamlet of DeWinton and reaching as far south as the Okotoks overpass at Highway 2 and Highway 2A.

Shearer said the new growth area now encompasses only eight-and-a-half sections.

She said the planning area unveiled in March wasn’t rational and needed a second look. One of the main concerns for the City of Calgary was how fragmented much of the land was in the DeWinton area.

“It was subdivided and not easy for us to then redevelop,” said Shearer. “I think the new proposal shows a tighter, rational, logical growth area for Calgary. It makes sense with our policies and it’s a smaller area for the MD to accommodate, and that was the big driver.”

Feedback from residents also came into play, she said. Many residents in attendance at the open house in March expressed concerns about the large land area and the fact DeWinton would be part of the city.

The new proposed development area does not include the hamlet, she said.

“We heard a lot of feedback from the residents’ point of view about the large area and swallowing up DeWinton,” said Shearer.

Heritage Pointe resident Brian McConaghy said he was pleased to see DeWinton was left out of new proposed plan.

“I’m happy we’re not being absorbed, because I like it the way it is,” said McConaghy. “I was thinking if that happened, DeWinton would eventually disappear, this whole place would disappear. It wouldn’t hold the same characteristics as it does today, it would be part of something bigger and it would lose its identity.”

DeWinton resident Karen Jones agreed. She was not happy with the plan as it was revealed in March.

“I’m much more relieved now,” said Jones. “I think everyone is. It was too much. It was too much to ask all these residents to freeze their land and to take over DeWinton.”

The new intermunicipal development plan also identifies two specific policy areas, which are covered by agreements between the two municipalities regarding future development.

One area, designated as Policy Area A covering Spruce Meadows and lands east along Highway 22X, and north of the Ann and Sandy Cross Conservation Area to the Tsuu T’ina Nation reserve, will protect the land from development.

The second, Policy Area B covering two sections at 64 St. SW and 242 Avenue west, protects land necessary for an anticipated future roadway, part of the Sarcee Trail expansion.

MD of Foothills director of planning Heather Hemingway said the two policy areas are different in nature.

“Policy Area A is basically a discussion about the fact those are important wildlife corridor areas, there’s some sensitivity with regards to surface water, so we didn’t want to see the City or ourselves look at those for future development,” said Hemingway.

The land – primarily agricultural at this point – will remain in the MD of Foothills, and country residential or cluster residential developments could be permitted as approved by MD council, said Hemingway.

Alberta Transportation has not revealed the future alignment of Sarcee Trail yet, so the lands in Policy Area B are protected against development, she said.

“We’re going to work together with the Province, and hopefully we’ll be able to identify the alignment of that transportation network,” said Hemingway. “We’d like to limit fragmentation of those lands until such time as the alignment has been announced.”

Barring any significant concerns from residents, the MD and the City will further refine policies and create a draft plan, she said. Both municipalities will hold public hearings to adopt the new intermunicipal development plan.

Hemingway said the goal is to have the hearings in March 2017.

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