Chestermere City Council received a letter the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Bernie Morton submitted to the community regarding the Lakeside Greens Golf Course for information during the Feb. 2 Regular Meeting of Council.
In 2020, the Lakeside Greens Golf Course announced they partnered with Slokker Homes, to explore selling the golf course and create a new housing development.
In September, Morton submitted a statement to the community explaining his concerns as the city’s CAO.
“The lands are designated for parks and open space use in the Municipal Development Plan. At this time, the city has not received a formal proposal from the Lakeside Partnership, but the plan described in the announcement is currently not permitted under local and provincial regulations. Any proposal to redevelop lands in a way that is different than their current designated land use would require significant changes to local laws,” Morton said.
The City’s Community Growth and Infrastructure team met with the project representatives to better understand their intentions, and to share their concerns regarding the project.
“To date, a formal application for redevelopment has not been received by the city, but we do anticipate that the applicant will likely be coming forward with a concrete proposal and application soon,” Morton said.
“We are aware that there is already significant community discussion about this proposal, and concerns and opposition to the plan to redevelop the golf course are being expressed. Even at this early stage, we hear you,” he said.
There will be a community consultation process, including a Public Hearing for a development.
The city’s administration team will meet with development proponents, listen to their proposal as landowners, and process any complete applications for consideration by city council.
“Administration also has an obligation to provide a professional opinion and recommendation to city council when the complete application is processed and is presented to them. The sharing and hearing the views and opinions of residents is an important part of the process. In considering any such redevelopment application and land-use changes, city council considers the views and opinions of residents, the application and requests from the developer, and recommendations and professional opinions from administration,” Morton said.
“At this time, you may be wondering, why is the city or city council even considering this proposal if a large number of residents are sharing their opposition in these early stages, and the proposal is expected to contravene many existing regulations and laws? Great question. Simply put, a landowner is permitted to submit such proposals, and requests for land-use changes, and requests for changes to laws or regulations to accommodate a development project. City administration has an obligation to process complete applications, the proposal, and requests made by a developer, and present them to city council for consideration, deliberation, and ultimately a decision,” he said.
Adding, “In their role as elected officials, City Councillors, at this early stage must remain neutral.”
As there has not been a formal application or request presented to Chestermere City Council, there is nothing to decide yet.
“They have a duty to respect the formal process and have an open mind. This does not mean ignoring the voices of the residents. It means hearing those voices and applying them towards the formal requests for redevelopment once it is presented to them for consideration,” Morton said.
When there is a complete application, and the community consultation, engagement, and Public Hearing process is completed, city council will review and consider any requests for changes by the developer and landowner.
Requests for change could include proposed changes to policies or laws, any impacts these changes could have on the community, the rationale for the changes, benefits, and the opinions of community members.
“All must be considered, reviewed, and fairly balanced as part of the decision-making process,” Morton said.
“Should the project representatives submit an application to redevelop the golf course, which we fully expect to happen at some point in 2021, rest assured that all required steps will be followed. The developers will have to follow processes and applications will need to be complete. Residents will have ample opportunity to be part of the formal public consultation, engagement, and Public Hearing process. City council will have all of the important information before them to make an informed decision,” he said.
“As the city’s CAO, during these early stages and without having received a formal application, I have concerns about a plan to redevelop the golf course because it doesn’t comply with various regulations and laws of our city. These would either have to be complied with or laws changed by city council, at their discretion, to accommodate any redevelopment,” he added. “We will continue to provide updates on this important topic.”