On June 24, the Chestermere Anchor published a piece about the City “closing its file” on the Lakeside Greens Golf Course redevelopment. As our voice was missing from this report, I’d like to take the opportunity to set the record straight and correct the misinformation circulating around what is privately owned property.
While Slokker Homes has had preliminary conversations with city planners, these discussions were informal and about high-level concepts. An application has not yet been submitted. We are still developing our proposal and won’t rush this important work for the sake of putting forward an application before the fall election.
The city’s “closing” of a file that was never formally opened, as far as we can tell, simply means there is nothing further for administration to do until we submit.
Our intention is to work hard over the next 12 months and submit a solid application with firm commitments, partnerships, and plans that benefit the wider Chestermere community, rather than a few homeowners living in one neighbourhood.
We will follow all official processes at that time and meet city requirements, as we have always done and will continue to do. What we won’t do is make this a political issue, nor will we donate to anyone’s campaign. The success or failure of our proposal will come down to the merits of our project, which we believe will create enormous economic, social and cultural benefits to all citizens.
During the past few months, we’ve been meeting and collaborating with many in the community on a vision that can win approval by both council and the majority of taxpayers.
The opposition so far, is coming from those who have a personal conflict of interest, and who view the golf course as their own gated community rather than the privately held property that it is. Some homeowners incorrectly believe any development will hinder their view. This is untrue. We have committed to creating a significant buffer of natural landscape between existing homes and new homes, which, by the way, will also be single family houses like the ones that already exist in Lakeside.
Any higher density in this context, would be townhouses and maybe one or two low-rise condos, all of which would be built much closer to our envisioned downtown, where we know many seniors and young adults are eager to find housing.
Gradually building up density in this way, as you move closer to a mixed-use commercial area, is one of the very basic principles of good urban planning.
Slokker is a family business with a track record of building great communities around the world. We pride ourselves in smart and sustainable developments.
I grew up in a small village in the Netherlands from a family of entrepreneurs. My father was a farmer. My aunt ran a successful nightclub and restaurant. Schagen stands as a wonderful example of what a successful, stand-alone town can look like, that supports its small businesses and provides services and housing for citizens at every stage of life.
Chestermere’s evolution from a cottage village means it is missing a downtown. Redeveloping the golf course allows us to fix this void and locate it in the geographical centre of the city, where it should logically be situated.
Our proposal would diversify the economy, help Chestermere be an autonomous city and create a significant number of permanent jobs – between 60 and 200 based on a conservative estimate of 30,000 sq ft to 100,000 sq ft of retail and commercial services. In addition, there would be multiple maintenance jobs from the new housing, and the many construction jobs during the build out.
Moreover, we expect the tax base would expand by approximately 100 times its current size, based on the addition of 1,200 residential units and an increase in the non-residential commercial taxes. Redeveloping already serviced land brings the benefits of additional taxes to a municipality, without the infrastructure costs typically associated with new development.
The Lakeside Greens Golf Course Preservation Society is peddling a dangerous myth. They are fighting the rezoning of the land on the argument that this, by default, will save the golf course.
How wrong they are.
There is no correlation between preventing the rezoning of the land and keeping open a money-losing operation. Lakeside Golf Club is beyond saving, and not for lack of trying. It has only stayed open this long because of the generosity of the owners, who have subsidized the loss while making Herculean efforts to turn around the financials these past 10 years. The failure has nothing to do with bad management. To suggest otherwise is an insult to those dedicated and hardworking people.
Refusal to rezone the land would be a double blow to Chestermere. Few opportunities to redevelop failed golf courses exist without rezoning. The real danger for a community is when a golf course is abandoned as vacant land, especially when that property is in the heart of the city.
Our opponents would have you believe our plan sacrifices recreational space for new housing. This is disingenuous. While we are proposing a mixed-use development, we have committed to increasing Chestermere’s public parks, open green space and bike-path network by 60 acres – roughly 40 per cent of the golf course land; recreational space currently only available for the exclusive use of paying golf-club members. This declining number now stands at just 144 members.
In addition to all of this, we envision creating a bike-oriented development using the powerline to build an entire bike lane protected from traffic, which would connect the existing paths currently bisected by the golf course. Creating a direct route from the far north or south of Chestermere, means everything is no more than a 10-minute bike-ride away, including the lake and the proposed downtown.
Simply put: Our proposal will benefit all 20,000 citizens of Chestermere by giving them a downtown, expanding the tax base, creating jobs, adding public parks and recreational opportunities, and creating housing for people of all stage of life.
We urge citizens to ignore the hear-say and inform themselves by contacting us directly. (www.lakesidefuture.com) Starting in August, I will be holding coffee meetings with anyone interested in hearing more about our plans.
We are willing to invest our time, money and expertise on a future that serves the highest and best interests of the City and all of its citizens.
Peter Paauw, President Slokker Homes