Residents in the Rolling Range Estates and Tower Trail remain divided on an Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP) proposed by Schickedanz West and Canopy Land.
A three-hour public hearing was held last night, that included presentations from the developer and another 30 people speaking both in opposition and favour of the proposal.
In unrolling its 50-year framework, Canopy Lands acknowledges the deep division over the proposal. It incorporated long-term shadow planning.
"It is logical to establish a framework of a 50-year vision which creates choice for landowners in the future," said Asad Niazi, president of Canopy Lands.
Planner Pamela McInnis says shadow planning is a tool used to protect everyone's interest and provide flexibility to landowners currently uninterested in selling.
"They may not want to for 25, 30 years or even longer, but one day, someone else will own that property, and it will be much easier for everyone if a development scenario is built into and protected by a neighbourhood plan," said MacInnis.
The redevelopment area incorporates the existing Towers Trail and Rolling Range communities. Both areas were developed into acreage style development prior to their annexation into the town in 2004. Since that time, the lands have retained their Urban Holdings District land use, remaining as 41 acreages ranging in size from 1.8 to 19.9 acres as well as two public service town-owned parcels, one environmental reserve parcel and one municipal reserve parcel. The developer claims to have support of 21 of the landowners.
The first in series of landowners meeting was held in 2017, followed by open houses.
Opponents to the ARP said selling their land is out of the question. Some have been there prior to Rolling Range Estates became part of the town and intend to pass along the properties to future generations of their families. It was very much a tranquil country residence area until 2010 when concrete planning began for the Fireside community that now butts up to their properties.
That said, none indicated opposition to growth in Cochrane and take pride in residing here. But they commonly tempered that comment with the need for sound planning.
Forty-three-year Rolling Range resident Theresa Casano was one of the people expressing her family's resolute opposition to the ARP.
"We urge you to listen to the collective voice of the majority of landowners who are against this ARF," she told council. "The undue stress caused by Canopy Lands since 2017 has cast a shadow over our community's peace, and we implore you to put an end to it."
She says the ARP would strip landowners of the very essence of their property ownership--choice. She says the mandatory shadow plan would sterilize the landowners, rendering them powerless to determining the fate of their own properties.
"As citizens and stakeholders, we believe in the importance of retaining our autonomy in deciding the future development on our cherished land."
Casano and others said Canopy Land has not been offering fair market value for the properties. She believes the ARP is premature, given 80 per cent of the land isn't owned by the developer. Additionally, she said committing to such a far-reaching plan seems unnecessary when the town's already bustling with various ongoing and planned developments.
She says the plan does not adequate address transportation challenges, has a questionable internal road network, inadequacies in bird, wildlife and wetland inventories and has a dubious utility and servicing scheme.
Louisa Ackerman made it clear her family won't sell.
"I'm telling you right now, they (her parents) have 10 acres in the middle. It's going to me, we're not selling, my daughter wants to get married there, we're not selling, she wants it, we're not selling," said Ackerman. "I'm very much opposed to this."
She continued, "I love how this whole performance on the front row, like, come on, this is a setup, this is a stage. There are a lot of people who are against it."
The front row she referenced had largely been speaking in favour of the ARP. Many of whom live in the area but some of whom reside in nearby Fireside and even Bow Meadows.
A letter of support from Gordon Jeffrey, a 17-year resident Rolling Range Estates resident who was unable to attend, was part of the hearing.
Since the properties were annex by the town, Jeffrey said Fireside leapfrogged their area, and property taxes have almost double with few town services to speak of.
"It has now been 19 years since the annexation, and we are now looking forward to the urban planning of our community. We are surrounded by urban development yet have not benefitted from the services that are basically next store," states the letter.
"The ARP will create a collective vision for the land, avoiding fragmented and uncoordinated development around us. While we have stayed out of community politics for the most part, we are aware of quite vocal descenders within the community. While they claim to represent almost every property owner within the community, that is not accurate."
He said he looks forward to the possibility of increase of amenities and an increase in property values.
Other supporters expressed the same points and added others, including having the right to subdivide their property, something that has not been allowed for almost 20 years.
Support was received for establishing a new set of traffic lights on Hwy. 22 to improve traffic flow to the area, although there was no indication provided that their installation have received the blessings of Alberta Transportation.
Frank Bercha, coordinator of the Towers Trail and Rolling Range Resident Owners Association (T2R2) was taken aback when he was limited to a 10-minute presentation. He said he had been informed it would be 20 minutes and had to quickly dash through his presentation.
He said they had not asked for the ARP and have been in opposition from day one. He produced the results of a poll that indicated 88 per cent of residents are opposed to the creation of the ARP.
Bercha said the ARP is inappropriate for an already developed area, conflicts with other ongoing developments in town, and the proposed phased development is unacceptable.
Cochrane Minor Soccer Association threw their support behind the ARP after Canopy Lands provided an MOU to include a domed soccer pitch, something the organization has been pursuing.
Council will be receiving a report from town administration before reaching a decision at a future meeting.