MEDICINE HAT, AB -- Connaught area residents are upset about a possible threat to a green space in their community.
“I drive along this street every day,” says Robin Cowan, a resident since 1982. “I look over here, it’s a beautiful park, we should keep our parks.”
City council recently approved first reading of a bylaw to rezone 352 Primrose Drive Southeast from open space to medium density residential. This means it would be open to a buyer that wants to build an apartment complex on the land.
“A lot of people have invested money in their properties,” says Marc Westby, a resident since 2015. “We have a certain expectation, we bought in a mature neighbourhood and to see a radical change like this possibly being pushed through is extremely upsetting.”
The area is a large green space, which Cowan says is the only one of its kind in the area.
“The city says there’s lots of green space in the area,” says Cowan. “But with coyotes in the area, there’s a lot of places that are closed off where kids can’t play, so this is the only available green space that we have.”
Since the rezoning discussions began in August, hundreds of residents have attended open houses and city council meetings opposing the development.
A petition with more than 500 signatures has also been circulating through the community.
Its been led by two long-term residents, who have collectively been there for roughly 60 years.
“Consider the quality of life in the community and consider the impact that selling this property for multi family development,” says Russ Barnes, a resident since 1979. “What the impact of that would be and it’s not good.”
Mayor Ted Clugston says he understands where residents are coming from.
“We have a community that’s been there for 30 or 40 years that is basically single family with yards,” says Clugston. “They’ve grown to kind of like their community.
The city did invest in space already, spending $250,000 on a new irrigation system and sodding.
However, if the development was built, the wasted dollars wouldn’t matter.
“Financially for the city, it is a better financial move to sell this piece of land,” says Clugston. “Get the sales proceeds and the property tax from whatever is built on there.”
Clugston says he’s receiving 10 or 20 emails a day opposing the development.
But, any new development would have to abide by strict City standards and be approved by Planning and Development Services. Afterwards, it would be advertised to the public for three weeks, giving residents an opportunity to express concerns.
In addition, there’s still two more votes to go on the rezoning, and council trying to listen to both sides of the argument.
“This has not been decided,” says Clugston. “Really, council needs to keep an open mind until the public hearing and then vote on second and third reading of the bylaw.”
The last two readings and the public hearing will be held in council chambers on December 17, giving residents a chance to speak up.
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