Chestermere City Council held a public hearing regarding the Amendment to the Municipal Development Plan, the Southeast Chestermere Area Structure Plan (ASP), Kinniburgh North Outline Plan, Land Use Redesignation, and Land Use Bylaw to accommodate a Retirement Campus on Sept. 29.
It was proposed that 3.82 hectares of the existing 4.63 hectares of the special recreation district in Kinniburgh be redesignated to a Retirement Living Campus (RLC) district.
“The application submitted is in alignment with the principles and land use goals of the city’s statutory documents and it does meet councils’ goals to prioritize senior-friendly neighbourhoods,” said the Senior Planner Community Growth & Infrastructure, Benazir Thaha Valencia.
“The RLC is aimed at creating an aging in place community at a range of price points, with a high standard of design of appearance,” she said.
Communities within the RLC district would be developed under condominium structures, with restricted residency to residents 55 years of age and older.
“The approval of this proposal would provide appropriate housing for Chestermere’s aging population and would add to the tax base,” Thaha Valencia said.
Possible disadvantages to having the RLC district is an increase of traffic, additional light and noise pollution in the area, and a decrease in amenity space that nearby residents expected the site to be developed as.
The subject site, east of Camp Chestermere and south of East Lake View School is surrounded by residential properties.
The land was identified in the southeast ASP plan in 2005 and was zoned as an urban reserve, a year later it was redesignated to a special recreation district.
“The purpose of the site was to accommodate additional lands for Camp Chestermere, and the camp would have been able to take advantage of the additional lands,” Thaha Valencia said.
Through a seniors housing needs assessment, the city indicated the importance of having seniors housing in Chestermere that was close to amenities such as shopping, banking, health providers, medical facilities, and family and friends.
The city received 55 submissions of resident’s feedback regarding the RLC district, 11 in favour, and 44 in opposition.
“Staff have pulled the main reasons for concern which includes it’s not the right location, people do not want to lose the park area, decrease in property values, and the proposal would create congestion and an unsafe traffic environment,” Thaha Valencia said.
The land was sold to the applicant, Terradigm Development Consultants in 2012, and in 2018 they approached Steve Grande inquiring about what could be done with the property.
“In terms of property recreation, it seems to me there are really only two possibilities. There are publicly funded properties, and there are commercially viable recreation properties. The options for a recreation property really aren’t there,” Grande said.
“It’s clear that the community is looking for something larger, and the efforts of the City of Chestermere are focused on a recreation centre. I don’t believe that we need another field next to a field that’s already in place,” Grande added. “There was a clear message from the City of Chestermere that people were looking for seniors housing.”
When Grande created the RLC district, his goal was to ensure the district guidelines were broad enough to be used in other areas in Chestermere, and other communities.
“There are some concerns, that this bylaw could be lifted, but this is ingrained in the very fabric of Chestermere and to change this to something else would require a change to the bylaw and to go through this whole process all over again,” Grande said.
The RLC district concept is primarily bungalows close to amenities, and near walking paths for active seniors to utilize.
“This is a community where you live by choice, this isn’t where people put their parents,” Grande said.
“All of the amenities that people are looking for are right there within walking distance. I can’t think of another location in Chestermere when you would be as close to the lab and to amenities. A community like a retirement living community will add so much value to this neighbourhood,” he said.