Residents get first glance at draft area structure plan

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The East Aldersyde area may have a different look in the future with potential new residential development and community-scale commercial sites.

MD of Foothills residents gave their input after seeing a draft area structure plan for residential housing in the East Aldersyde area at an open house Sept. 26 at the Crescent Point Regional Field House.

“The developer group for the Aldersyde East area structure plan is initiating the project with the community and trying to give some overall understanding of what it is trying to achieve,” said Heather Hemingway, MD of Foothills director of planning.

The draft ASP will take in a portion of land on both sides of Secondary Highway 547, on both sides of the Highwood River and east of the Aldersyde overpass.

At present, lands in the planned area are zoned agricultural with a small portion for industrial natural resources. There is country-residential zoning in the vicinity of the area.

The initial plans are to have approximately 1,500 acres of residential with community-scale commercial sites, similar to what is seen in Heritage Pointe.

Kirsty Gerig lives in the Silvertip area, just east of the Aldersyde overpass, near the potential development.

She said she is not against growth, but wants to make sure it is done right.

One of her concerns is increased traffic, particularly turning east from Highway 2 from Calgary at the Aldersyde overpass — a necessary turn for Silvertip residents returning from the big city.

“The traffic for sure,” said Gerig, when asked what her concerns were. “This intersection at the overpass is already sketchy to turn left on (east),” she said. “It is very difficult. The sight lines on the overpass are bad… Any more traffic on 547 is a concern.”

She also had concerns about water.

“Is whatever they are doing on these developments going to impact us, particularly the wastewater plant they are proposing,” she said.

Gerig admitted there were likely similar concerns when the Silvertip draft was brought forward.

“It’s not that I don’t think there shouldn’t be houses there — if they want to develop it, develop it with some thought behind it,” Gerig said.

“Honestly, it makes sense to develop here — my thoughts — don’t just chuck it and say it’s good. It’s got the potential to impact our property values badly.”

She said she would like the area to continue to have a rural feel to it.

Okotoks area resident Dennis Inglis, is with Highfield Land Management Inc., one of the landowners and developers involved with the plan.

“What we are trying to do tonight, with the M.D., is show people what the area structure plan boundary is — there are no preconceived notions of anything going on,” Inglis said: “We are trying to hear from residents ‘tell us what you like?’… “Everybody instantly thinks (that something like) the town of Okotoks will be dropped in. That doesn’t happen.”

Kristi Beunder of CivicWorks Planning + Design said the area structure plan will be created with considerable input from residents.

“This (the open house) is just like ‘a hello’,” she said.

“I have heard lot about residential density and what that looks like — we don’t have a number yet,” Beunder said. “We also have heard a lot about traffic.”

As for water, Beunder said it will work with the MD of Foothills on a proposed water and wastewater treatment in the Aldersyde hamlet.

“We would work with the municipality on gaining access to that system and transferring our licences to that system to service this community,” she said. “It’s not groundwater and we have sufficient diversion licences.”

Arno Dyck borders part of the northeast boundary area of the draft plan area.

“I would rather see no development,” Dyck said matter-of-factly. “It’s a beautiful area and we will lose that.”

He said he realizes change isn’t about to come tomorrow.

“I’m realistic, if we dislike it that much, we would likely move, that’s all,” he said.

Hemingway said the MD is participating in the process to ensure the plan meets the aspirations in the municipal development and growth management strategy. MD council is at arm lengths from the process.

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