Airdrie city council unanimously approved the new Spring Valley Neighbourhood Structure Plan (NSP) during its meeting on Aug. 21.
The approval of the NSP paves the way for owner Spring Valley Estates Corps to begin working on site preparations to develop about 24 hectares of new light industrial lots on Airdrie’s east side just north of Yankee Valley Estates.
While city council did acknowledge the proposed development was atypical as it “leapfrogged” other lands slated for development first in that region of the city– as laid out in the East Points Community Area Structure Plan– in this case, councillors felt the the benefits of the new development outweighed the atypical nature of the application.
“This is a really important step forward,” said Mayor Peter Brown during the meeting. “This is going to showcase to the rest of the province, and other areas, that we are open for business. We need to attract some of the businesses this development is proposing to bring forward.”
The benefit of approving the development rested on three main points, explained Jordan Furness, leader of long range planning for the City of Airdrie. First, he said, the developer in this case agreed to front end the cost of creating the water and sanitary servicing needed to ensure the site was shovel ready out of their own pockets. The City would simply have to pay them back out of future off-site levies in the area as the development fills in.
Secondly, the developer will build this infrastructure out to its Spring Valley lands through the East Points area, which will allow future light industrial development there to simply tie on to the existing servicing infrastructure provided by the Spring Valley Estates Corps. And thirdly, the developer has agreed to donate land within the Spring Valley Estates to the City’s municipal reserve for a future school site on the east side.
“The City will be able to tell the province that we do have a (school) site prepared for you; so that’s another big plus on that east side,” confirmed Furness.
While no Airdronians chose to speak up during the public hearing portion of the Aug. 21 meeting, both Furness and Brown acknowledged there had been several letters of complaint received from local residents, particularly from Yankee Valley Estates residents. Those letters expressed fears about the potential for increased traffic and the perceived risk of groundwater contamination from future industrial activity on the water wells of the area, as among the main concerns.
Furness said the developer had addressed these concerns to council’s satisfaction. For the groundwater concern specifically, the developer had commissioned a hydro-geological study to show those wells would not be affected because they were too deep underground. And since the developer was investing in pipeline infrastructure, Furness explained, it would you be tying into City water services– not using existing groundwater resources.
“We did the best we could to make sure to integrate (planning) with Yankee Valley Estates to the south,” he stated.
Mayor Brown said he also recognized some in the area had expressed concerns over the potential for depreciation of their property values.
“It’s always interesting because no one wants to see their land adjacent to them developed,” Brown explained to his council colleagues during the Aug. 21 meeting. “But there isn’t a community, certainly in the new parts of Airdrie, that hasn’t been impacted by development.”
Brown recognized Airdrie had been under an extended period of unprecedented development over the last 20 years, and certainly rapid changes had taken place even within his time on city council. But this experience also gave him the confidence, he stated, to say that it was unlikely anyone’s property values would go down as a result of this development.
“I know in some of the letters they were concerned about the value of their homes, but I can’t think of a time where any development that we have done where homes haven’t appreciated in value in my time sitting as mayor,” he said.
Brown also acknowledged the short term impacts of serving this area to people living in the immediate area, and apologized for the inconvenience some would likely experience as a result.
“It’s a short term pain,” he stated.