Planning department, council field suggestions on draft City Plan
By: Matt Durnan
| Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014 10:13 am
Airdrie’s City Plan is nearing completion and should be finalized by July 7 at the latest.
City council was presented with the draft of the plan on May 20 by Tracy Corbett, Airdrie manager of planning and sustainable development.
The extensive document is a long range strategic plan that sets the direction for new development throughout the entire city, including the future development of annexed lands.
Corbett explained that this was merely a draft version of the plan and the purpose of holding a public hearing was to take into account the input from developers and residents for consideration.
“We’re not rezoning anything through this process,” said Corbett.
“This is simply to get an overview of the City’s plans moving forward toward a population horizon of 90,000 in 2030.”
The plan helps City council make decisions regarding future land use, protection of the natural environment, transportation needs, infrastructure and servicing needs, and land supply for commercial and industrial development.
Corbett highlighted the City’s goal of achieving a split of 25 per cent non-residential and 75 per cent residential. Mayor Peter Brown reported at his 2013 state of the City address last June, that the City’s land use split is actually closer to 80 per cent residential.
Within the City Plan, neighbourhood structure plans (NSPs) will have more rigid stipulations with regard to housing mix and will require a minimum of 30 per cent attached housing, as well as a 45 per cent maximum for small and narrow lots.
“Most of our developers are already following this model,” said Corbett.
“This just allows us to better regulate it.”
Residential densities will be held at eight units per acre (UPA), a number that Alderman Allan Hunter said he was struggling with.
“We’re experiencing phenomenal growth in our city and I’m hearing lots of talks about walkable communities,” said Hunter.
“My concern isn’t so much with the units per acre but with cars per acre and how we’re going to be moving them through our communities.”
Corbett responded that within each NSP, developers work with the City in conducting a traffic impact analysis to ensure that new developments won’t be causing major traffic congestion.
A number of developers were on hand to speak on the City Plan, all of whom were in favour and made note of some concerns or considerations.
Kathy Oberg of Brown and Associates spoke about the company’s plans to expand industrial developments into Airdrie.
“We have leveraged large industrial areas in Balzac and the next logical move is to expand into Airdrie,” said Oberg.
“I’m concerned that at 25 to 75 (non-residential/residential) split may not be achievable and I believe that there is an opportunity for a complete development in east Airdrie that would assist in achieving a greater non-residential split.”
Another future development could be seen in east Airdrie at the Airdrie Airpark as Don Parkin, director on behalf of Air Park owners, spoke to some potential uses for the more than 600 acres of land.
“There will need to be a variety of aviation and non-aviation, non-residential uses made available on the Airpark lands for the Airdrie Airpark to realize its potential and be economically viable,” said Parkin.
“The runway provides a function where we can attract and accommodate businesses including satellite offices, conference centres, educational and research facilities, head offices, manufacturing, corporate companies with private jets, etc.”
Hunter provided Parkin with a brief reply and commended his vision.
“I’ve thought for a long time about the unrealized potential of that land (at the airpark) and it’s driven me nuts, I like this idea,” said Hunter.
Darren Lockhart of Hopewell Residential spoke as both a developer and an Airdrie resident, stating that the plan was, “very close”.
“As a resident I’m excited about this plan, I think the downtown policies are really good,” said Lockhart.
“From a developer standpoint there is one change I’d like to see considered and that’s that quarter sections for development are not always appropriate. We (Hopewell) have a quarter section at the north end of town and the boundary on the east side of it isn’t really conducive to just cutting off our community.”
The suggestions and questions of the developers and residents in attendance will be weighed by the City’s planning team and council and can be brought back before council to be voted on as early as June 16. If extensive changes to the plan are required it can be back be in front of council by July 7.
To view the complete draft city plan, visit www.airdrie.ca