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Final public hearings held for Exshaw Mountain Gateway

“As we know, in the Bow Valley, that when we add 100 people, we add 200 cars. I want to make sure streets and roads and planning is adequate enough at the front end that we don’t end up with problems.”

EXSHAW – A pair of public hearings for the proposed Exshaw Mountain Gateway development gave the public an opportunity to give feedback before it heads back to council for potential second and third readings.

The MD of Bighorn hosted the two public hearings coming off the initial hearing on Oct. 24 to get public input on the area structure plan (ASP). The first hearing centred on a potential amendment to the Municipal Development Plan and could extend the boundary of the Hamlet of Exshaw in a manner consistent with the Exshaw Mountain Gateway area structure plan.

Only one community member spoke regarding the development, Sue Arlidge, who expressed some concerns.

“As a long-term resident here, I would feel better if our full administration team was up and trained when we were making such big decisions in our community,” Arlidge said. “It is the biggest change that has happened in the community since I have lived here. I encourage council and administration to go slowly here.”

Arlidge also spoke about the addition of 100 people to the community, which would mean more vehicles and possible parking issues.

“As we know, in the Bow Valley, that when we add 100 people, we add 200 cars,” she said. “I want to make sure streets and roads and planning is adequate enough at the front end that we don’t end up with problems.”

The second hearing came after the 44-minute public hearing on possible changes to the MDP, with a potential amendment to the land use bylaw.

The project is planned for the north and east side of Exshaw. Within the development, there would be 25 to 30 single detached and duplex lots, six to eight ridge lots, one mountain lot and two multi-dwelling lots with approximately 15 units total.

The parcel of land, purchased in December 2018, covers 35.2 hectares, 4.57 hectares of which are in the hamlet boundary. It is expected it will increase the population of the MD by 130 people.

The amendment application would redesignate areas of the development property from hamlet transition and forestry district to hamlet serviced residential and hamlet multi-residential district. About 9.3 hectares of the 35.2-hectare property are impacted by this change.

This amendment will allow for single detached dwellings, secondary suites, and studio suites. Approximately 30 to 40 dwelling units will be in the area impacted.

“What we are trying to do is to assign land use districts to the properties that will be created through the area structure plan process,” said Greg Birch with Birch Consulting. “This will allow subdivision to occur.”

Reeve Lisa Rosvold asked about people using suites to help pay for mortgages, relaying her own experience with building a home in Dead Man’s Flats but not being able to use the income from renting out a suite until after there was occupancy of the home.

“The suite is not a mortgage helper until you are approved for your mortgage,” Rosvold said. “Have you looked at that regulation and people might be able to work within that so that the mortgage helper is upfront?”

Birch said he has worked with the Alberta Treasury Branch for a number of years, noting the financial institution sees potential in the project.

“I didn’t get down to any fine print. It is a good question, though.”

Alridge also spoke regarding the development in the second public hearing, raising concerns over traffic along Pigeon Mountain Drive. She stated she has lived there for 24 years and dealt with very little traffic along the road, something she is worried will change with the development.

Birch said a traffic assessment was completed and third-party reviewed, with engineering and studies that meet the standards of the MD to showing it is in the parameters and is acceptable.

“If you have lived on Pigeon Mountain Drive, there was eight homes and a forest behind you,” Birch said. “It comes back to demand for people who want to live in the Bow Valley and the supply of more housing that is needed.”