Developer, County must solve outstanding issues
By Enrique Massot
The County News
A developer must solve outstanding issues before Rocky View County allows the redevelopment of the former Wintergreen ski hill into residential, hotel and retail centre.
“What I would like to see is Resorts of the Canadian Rockies (RCR) and staff come together and dot some i’s and cross some t’s with regards to everything we heard today,” said area Coun. Mark Kamachi.
On Nov. 28, the County council gave second reading but withheld third (final) reading to a conceptual scheme and land-use redesignation allowing for about 300 residences, a hotel and commercial space in the former Wintergreen ski hill.
“We want to have control, making sure (the project) is as close as possible to the (Greater Bragg Creek) area structure plan and the wants of the community,” said Kamachi.
The financing of upgrades to Wintergreen Road, connecting the proposed redevelopment to the Hamlet of Bragg Creek and Highway 22, is one unsolved item.
RCR’s position is that the 3.2-km road cost improvements must be shared by the County.
Other outstanding issues are the developer’s financing commitment to enhance the Bragg Creek wastewater treatment plant; redesign the development’s secondary road access to allow for safe evacuation in an emergency event; provisions for emergency egress from the west and north Bragg Creek area; agreement on municipal reserve land calculations, and clarification of responsibilities on open space maintenance.
Michael Coldwell, planner with Urban Systems representing RCR was disappointed by the delay.
“The fact that we are going to be sent back to the drawing board really concerns us,” he said.
Coldwell wanted to obtain immediate approval for both applications and address the outstanding issues at the later stage of subdivision and development permit.
However, County planner Johnson Kwan said approval of the conceptual scheme would reduce council’s leverage.
“At the subdivision stage it is often too late to deal with technical issues because council can be taken out of the process through a simple appeal,” he said. “Council has no particular role once the subdivision appeal is made.”
Area residents spoke both in support and opposition to the proposal.
Susan Cameron, a 35-year area local resident, supported the project.
“What has been presented here before council today is, in our opinion, a class-act development,” she said, outlining a list of projects done by RCR across Canada.
Cameron also criticized the administrative report to council.
“There were not positive comments,” she said. “There seemed to be no balance.”
Former area councillor Liz Breakey supported immediate approval of the RCR plan.
“The technical issues associated with the proposal can be resolved through the application of conditions on subdivision development,” she said.
Breakey, who was chair of the steering committee in charge of writing the local area plan in 2006, said the Wintergreen site had been discussed.
“As one of two north Bragg Creek reps for the area I’d like to state clearly that the Wintergreen redevelopment proposal was always very much a part of the Greater Bragg Creek Area Structure Plan,” she said.
However, Gordon McIlwain, who was vice-chair of the steering committee, had a different recollection.
“This particular (RCR) proposal area, my recollections are, was basically a new development area as described in the area structure plan,” he said.
McIlwain said the committee envisioned future growth, “to the south of the existing hamlet along Highway 22, up to the (Banded Peak) school.”
McIlwain asked council to uphold the area structure plan and turn down the RCR proposal.
“This community put its heart and soul into the communication and the consultation around the area structure plan,” he said. “It’s a carefully designed document and it was the best consensus that the community could reach around 2006.”
Local business owner and long-time Wintergreen resident Michael Woertman opposed the redevelopment.
“I find the RCR application extremely aggressive in nature in areas that have been highlighted by your own staff,” he said. “There is an opportunity for council to gain some credibility by turning down this application entirely and asking the applicant to address all the key concerns.”
Wintergreen 24-year resident David Deer supported the plan and said the area needs to grow.
“I am here to give my full support for sensible growth,” he said.
However, Deer also emphasized the need to upgrade Wintergreen Road adding a pathway for the safety of numerous pedestrians using it.
“I am a marathoner, I run up and down on that road, probably three to five times a week and I’ve been nearly hit a number of times,” he said.
The RCR’s planning consultant said aligning the project with the Greater Bragg Creek area structure plan would allow for just 80 residential units, a number that would render the project uneconomical.
In disagreement with administration’s warnings, Coun. Al Schule made a motion to allow passing third and final reading to the conceptual scheme after the public hearing closure.
“I believe most items can be dealt with redesignation,” he said.
Schule’s motion was supported by Reeve Greg Boehlke and Coun. Daniel Henn.
However, Kamachi opposed the motion, with support from Deputy Reeve Gautreau and councillors Kim McKylor, Kevin Hanson, Samanntha Wright and Crystal Kissel.
Third (final) readings to the conceptual scheme and land-use change will be considered Jan. 23, pending resolution of remaining outstanding issues.