Chestermere City Council has been asked by city administration to give first reading of Bylaw 028-19, which will amend the development regulation for the Town Centre District undeveloped sites to better align with the Municipal Development Plan (MDP).
The fundamental principles within the vision include making the downtown a focal point for activity, promoting the downtown as the centre for civic life, developing the downtown as an urban, walkable hub with integrated transit, introducing housing, and establishing a strong economic node.
“The current land use bylaw is implementing a vision for the town that is a past vision,” said Senior Planner of Community Growth and Infrastructure Karl Mielke.
“Two undeveloped parcels are remaining in the downtown,” Mielke said.
The only remaining waterfront commercial sites in Chestermere are next to John Peake Park, next to a naturalized storm pond, a public art feature, city hall, and grocery store.
“They are real gems for our community,” Mielke said.
“We only have a very small amount of waterfront area left, and I strongly feel that council needs to represent the public in how that waterfront space gets built on,” said Deputy Mayor Kind.
The intent for the site is to create a commercial horizontal mixed-use development within the site, which will provide commercial, retail, office, and resident use.
Mixed-use development can be horizontal with an office building, and an apartment building on the same site in direct proximity to one another, or a vertical mix-use development, where there is a retail main floor with offices or apartments on the next floor.
“We have a real gem in the heart of our community, we have a beautiful lake, and we have a beautiful community, and there are no other communities around us that can offer that,” Mielke said.
“Very soon, we’re going to have seamless development from the City of Calgary to Chestermere,” he said.
Adding, “We’re going to be connected by transit, we’re going to have two-way mobility, and this is a true opportunity for us to really establish ourselves on the map in the region as a unique municipality.”
By implementing a mixed-use commercial site, downtown will provide a focal point for future community activity.
As the community grows, the mixed-use commercial downtown site will have to be redeveloped to increase housing options, intensities of use, while promoting a pedestrian-friendly urban hub.
The downtown area could also serve as a destination for regional and local transit and provide services for the community.
City council has multiple options, such as rezoning parts of the Town Centre District’s control, which would make council the approving authority until a comprehensive rewrite of the Town Centre District is completed.
The second option is to amend the regulations in the Town Centre District, so the undeveloped sites address the policies of the MDP.
“This is an interim measure, and a comprehensive amendment, it’s a large undertaking and will require a lot of work,” Mielke said.
“It may not be the best time to take it on now, but staff does believe that the interim measure is required,” he said.
The bylaw supports the improvement of opportunities in the community, which will allow the city to set regulations for the Town Centre District that supports an increase in commercial tax generation, recreational opportunities on the waterfront, and intensification of the town centre in line with growth principles.
The first option would improve the city’s relationships with residents, while the second option would support partnerships with the development industry, remove confusion, and provide clearer development requirements for the Town Centre District.
“Both options would improve the quality of life in the community by improving city amenities on the waterfront,” Mielke said.
“Both options would support neighbourhoods by creating more appropriate regulations to support mixed-use development in the city centre,” he said.
Moving forward, the Chestermere City Council approved the scheduling for a public hearing for the land use bylaw on Dec. 17 at 6 p.m.