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Exshaw Mountain Gateway heads to third reading at MD of Bighorn council

“The statement that current infrastructure can handle the proposed population, EMG would add about 140 units to Exshaw. The current road system can handle those units.”

EXSHAW – The Exshaw Mountain Gateway (EMG) can continue moving forward as MD council gave second reading to its area structure plan (ASP), as well as amendments to its land use bylaw (LUB) and Municipal Development Plan (MDP) bylaws.

Since first reading approval by council of the ASP, MDP and LUB in September 2022, and subsequent public hearings, Exshaw Mountain Gateway’s developers have brought forward an improved ASP due to community concerns over wildlife impact, drainage and trails.

Two open houses were held, one in June 2019, and the other in March 2022.

At the public hearings on the ASP, MDP and LUB, held on Oct. 24 and Nov. 3, 2022, residents brought up concerns stating they were not opposed to the development, but had worries over fracturing the landscape for wildlife, and the impact on the local aquifer.

This is the eighth version of the Exshaw Mountain Gateway ASP and it proposes to extend Hayley’s Way eastward as a pedestrian and bike route only, not as a drivable laneway, as it is now.

The ASP of the project proposes 25 to 30 single detached and duplex lots, six to eight ridge lots that are single detached, one mountain lot, and two multi-dwelling lots for 15 units total.

Peter Scholz, director of planning services said that only part of Hayley’s Way would be walkable in response to a question from Coun. Alice James.

The developers have also recommended the ridge access lane currently in the area be widened to a two-way local road, and its slope reduced so it is suitable for a fire truck in freezing rain for emergency access.

“The walking route (Hayley’s Way) is not going up the hill at the same angle,” Scholz said. “It wouldn’t slow down emergency vehicles and pedestrians tend to avoid slopes. There is a pathway so people will use that pathway frequently. People won’t use the road up most of the time. That is the main advantage. It is an easier continuous access to the east.”

According to administration, the current existing infrastructure in Exshaw can accommodate the new traffic that would be created by the Exshaw Mountain Gateway.

“The statement that current infrastructure can handle the proposed population, EMG would add about 140 units to Exshaw,” Scholz said. “The current road system can handle those units.”

Since the existing vegetation presents a fire and falling risk, the lower portion of the Exshaw Mountain Gateway will infill the lower portion of the development to half a metre higher than the one in the 100-year flood limit. This would remove all existing vegetation in the lower area and the Jura Creek berm would be replaced with a new raised development platform.

“When you are talking about infilling, for that lower portion, how high is that in comparison to the existing berm?” Coun. Jenn Smith said.

Scholz responded it was a metre-and-a-half higher than Pigeon Mountain Lane.

“Any driveways coming off Pigeon Mountain Lane have to go above the new drainage works and then go up slope to get to the buildings higher up.”

The amended MDP will extend the boundary of the Hamlet of Exshaw to include the developed areas within the Exshaw Mountain Gateway so it is consistent with the ASP.

The amended LUB will redesignate areas of the property from Hamlet Transition District and Forestry District to Hamlet Serviced Residential and Hamlet Multi-Residential District.

The LUB, ASP and MDP will return to council for a third reading after administration gathers more information.