Council approves rezoning of land for new school
City council voted to rezone some land in the Gateway Industrial Business Park for the construction of a new Airdrie Koinonia Christian School (AKCS) after a public hearing on June 20.
The 4.47-acre lot is bound by the city limits to the north and Gateway Drive on the south. The school is currently located in southwest Airdrie but the lease on that land expires in September 2012.
“This coming school year, Airdrie Koinonia Christian School will celebrate its 25th year in the community,” said Jim Scott with AKCS.
“We wanted to remain in Airdrie and to the best of our ability, every opportunity for a new location was explored. The only one to meet all the criteria was the Gateway location.”
Wayne Alexander said he and his wife enrolled their children into AKCS in 2001 and moved from Calgary to Airdrie in 2005 because of the exceptional quality of schooling.
“It offers a unique brand of education and gives back to the community through many charitable organizations,” he said.
“Future families will receive unlimited value from the new facilities.”
Alderman Murray Buchanan raised a concern about having a school located in a commercial area.
“Given there could be a lot of commercial traffic if another commercial area goes in to the north, are you comfortable with that?” he asked Scott. “I’m totally in support of your school but safety of the children is a concern for me.”
“In all the areas of the City of Airdrie that we explored, don’t think we found a perfect site but we found the best site,” replied Scott.
“We are willing to work with the City of Airdrie and the neighbours of the site for the safety of our children.”
The current enrolment of the school is 250 students and that number is expected to grow to about 400 within 10 years.
Another area of concern for council was the increase in traffic flow in and out of the area.
A supplementary Traffic Impact Study was conducted recently and City planner Mark Spence said it determined the proposed school would have a minimum impact on the adjacent road network and no improvements to the intersections were required.
Mayor Peter Brown said despite the study, he is concerned about the increasing traffic in the area.
“Safety is my No. 1 concern and I suggest that this traffic report does not include the recent annexation,” he said.
“I have serious concerns about the volume. It is already getting busy up there. Where are we going to put all these people and how will they safely go about their business in what will be a very busy area?”
Spence said there are future plans for an additional interchange two miles north of Veterans Blvd.
He said although the area is primarily a business park, heavy industrial and manufacturing activities or businesses that generate hazardous pollutants or odorous smells will not be permitted.
Council also voted to rezone about six acres of Gateway Industrial Business Park from Urban Holding District to Commercial Mixed Use District to allow for a number of shops, offices and even residential opportunities.
The lots are intended to provide an area of transition between the large-scale regional commercial activities of Gateway and the smaller-scale commercial located at Dickson Crossing.
Buchanan raised concerns about residential housing on top of commercial or office buildings.
“I have serious concerns about… the mix of residential and commercial and whether or not that can be successful,” he said.
Spence said although the zoning allows for a residential component, it would be up to the builder to decide if the plans would include housing options.
Another concern was an increase in traffic in the area but staff assured council the intersection was constructed to meet traffic capacity upon the build-out of Gateway.
Stonegate residents Herb and Lesley Trussler wrote a letter to council expressing their concerns about the traffic situation in the area.
“Living in the community of Stonegate and the Gateway neighbourhood for the past six years, we are seeing more and more commercial structures filling the (northwest) corner of Veterans Boulevard and Main Street,” states the letter.
“The lack of exits out of the Gateway Business Park onto Veterans Boulevard eastbound and southbound onto the QEII is overloading this intersection.”
Upon approving the zone change, the Municipal Planning Commission requested that “in the interest of greater clarity and fairness to future development in the Gateway area. The requirements for future Traffic Impact Assessments for every development be formalized to aid in orderly and professional development in the area.”