April 23, 2021

50signs

The Fashion Spirit

Shopping centre, homes proposed for city limits raises neighbours’ ire

5 min read

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A huge shopping centre and neighbourhood development proposed to perch on the Calgary’s northwest boundary is running into opposition from neighbours on both sides of the city limit.

And some say the plan to turn rolling farmland at Highway 1A and 12 Mile Coulee Road into 833 housing units and a shopping centre — with a footprint comparable to Market Mall —  could become a flashpoint between the city and Rocky View County,  the latter which would host the development.

“I’ve heard from both (Calgary) Tuscany people and my own residents,” said Rocky View County Coun. Samanntha Wright, noting the plan goes before her council in a public hearing April 20.

“I’m anticipating a two-day hearing,” she said. “There’s no doubt it’s going to be a contentious hearing.”

Highfield Land Management’s Ascension Bearspaw proposal first went to public consultation in 2017 with the plan being put on hold, revised and then resubmitted to Rocky View Council last September.

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But even if that council sanctions the plan, it would still need approval from the Calgary Metropolitan Region Board, of which Calgary is a member and whose green light is hardly guaranteed, say some Rocky View councillors.

A thumbs down could exacerbate already tense relations between the two governments, they say.

Calgary Coun. Ward Sutherland said there are concerns about increased traffic volumes and the impact a new shopping centre could have on Calgary retailers.

“My concerns are the transportation impact … it’s all about responsible planning,” he said. “Would it take away from (nearby) businesses here? Certainly.”

The development would require an upgraded intersection at Crowchild Trail and 12 Mile Coulee Road, which would be paid for by developers or the county, said Sutherland, adding the proposed shopping area, dubbed Market Place, may well appeal to many nearby Calgary residents.

Bearspaw Ascension, a subdivision and shopping district proposed by Highfield Land Development on the outskirts of northwest Calgary.
Bearspaw Ascension, a subdivision and shopping district proposed by Highfield Land Development on the outskirts of northwest Calgary. Photo by Highfield Land Development

Rocky View County residents near the proposed development site received notices about the public hearing two days ago and were told they have until April 7 to prepare submissions for it, said Tom Dechert of the 12 Mile Coulee Steering Committee.

“That amount of time isn’t conducive to feeling you’re getting a fair shake from the county,” said Dechert, whose group is alarmed by the size and density of the proposal — nearly 112 hectares in total.

“Nobody here is dead-set against development, but is City of Calgary-style urbanized planning what we want here?”

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He noted Highfield proposes to ultimately provide housing for 2,375 people just to the east of a 19.3-hectare retail and entertainment complex backing onto Calgary city limits at 12 Mile Coulee Road.

Opposition among residents in the area has rapidly snowballed, with more than 300 people joining his group’s Facebook page in the week since it was created, he said.

“There are many people asking the question, ‘What the heck is going on here?’” said Dechert, who lives in the nearby Rocky View County subdivision of Watermark.

But the developers say they’ve engaged in plenty of public consultation and call their plan a “thoughtful transition” within the existing area.

“Although some residents expressed concern about these higher densities, the preservation of open space and variety of lot sizes through the plan area strikes a balance that the project team feels fits into this transitionary context,” states the company’s website.

It says the commercial area will offer a wide range of services constructed with “special attention … given to the design of the facades, storefronts, signage and way-finding through a high-quality architectural and urban design theme within the Market Place.”

A new traffic circle on 12 Mile Coulee Road, they say, will enhance vehicle flow as will a “well-connected road design.”

“Overall, the conceptual scheme represents a development concept ideally suited to its regional context,” they say.

Its location leverages the existing developments in both the city and Rocky View County, says Highfield.

Rocky View Coun. Wright said she couldn’t comment on the merits of the proposal because it hasn’t been brought before council yet.

“I do understand where the (critical) residents are coming from,” she said.

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on Twitter: @BillKaufmannjrn

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