While there were not a large number of presentations at a recent public hearing for the draft Dead Man’s Flats Area Redevelopment Plan (ARP), two of three people to speak were against the plan.
Both Inno Thomas, owner of the Esso gas station, and Derek Ryder, chairman of the Pigeon Creek Condo Association, told council Wednesday (May 4) they did not support the updated plan.
The draft ARP outlines long-range planning policies, including proposed development principles and architectural design guidelines, for the hamlet as it approaches its next wave of growth.
MD of Bighorn development planner Tracy Woitenko said during the hearing one of the largest changes in the ARP is Alberta Transportation’s plan to construct a new overpass for Dead Man’s Flats, which Woitenko said, would remove direct access from the Trans-Canada Highway.
“As the majority of businesses are there to serve travellers, the change may affect business,” Woitenko said. “We’re trying to put policies into the ARP that would help business adapt if Alberta Transportation brings in the overpass in the future.”
However, it is possible the overpass as planned would not go ahead, she said.
But if it does, Thomas said the overpass could mean the end for businesses in the hamlet, which cater primarily to motorists on the TCH.
“My problem with the ARP is the proposed new overpass is definitely going to kill all of the business in Dead Man’s Flats,” Thomas said. “Alberta Transportation’s plan is not set in stone. We are asking you to protect our interests. It could devalue property by 60 per cent. Or it could render it worthless,” he said.
Thomas also cited concerns that the MD was moving forward without answering an important question in regards to the hamlet’s water system.
He suggested Bighorn develop a plan for the water and wastewater system before approving a plan that guides long-term development in the hamlet.
“We should put things in order first before we go into the future. If you are planning the future and you don’t have a water system in place ,what makes you think it will be there when the future comes?” he said.
Ryder, speaking on behalf of owners in the 44-unit condominium complex, said the Pigeon Creek Condo Association does not support the ARP as residents do not agree with the direction of the plan, which he said moves it toward a cookie cutter of other mountain communities.
“The residents in mind live in Dead Man’s Flats because it is not these places. The people who live there do not buy the vision at all,” Ryder said. “A number of owners are leaving because they can see the writing on the wall. This ARP doesn’t attract people to stay. In fact, it drives them away.”
Ryder added the condo association submitted 26 modifications during the review process that he said could help create a better plan that protects the uniqueness of Dead Man’s Flats.
“It would give you an idea of how the plan could be modified. We have an issue with the proposed density, but life is full of compromises. We understand that.
“Dead Man’s Flats is a very special place and it is very unique. We should find ways to keep it unique.”
Woitenko pointed out that the standard process for long-term planning is to put an ARP in place.
“Plan before you undertake any upgrades to infrastructure and servicing, do it before the next boom and before development permits begin to come in,” she said.
The MD does have engineering plans in the works for water, wastewater and storm water management.
“So there is a final master plan that hopefully will be completed before the well is permitted.”
Dead Man’s Flats, according to the 2006 census, has a population of 72 residents, which is predicted to rise to 1,700 at build out, including accommodation guests.
Speaking in support of the draft plan, Shane Jonker said he supported the direction and the vision the plan is proposing for Dead Man’s Flats, but suggested the MD consider leaving room for developers to innovate.
He said the policies encourage innovation, specifically in water and wastewater, however, forces developers to hook up to municipal sewer and water regardless.
“The challenges are real and there are a menu of solutions, but I wouldn’t want to limit it to that menu,” he said.