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Proposed visitor, flexible accommodation project for Dead Man's Flats passes public hearing

A public hearing gave residents of the MD of Bighorn to voice their feelings for a proposed visitor and flexible accommodation of more than 100 units in the hamlet of Dead Man’s Flats.

DEAD MAN’S FLATS – A public hearing gave residents of the MD of Bighorn a chance to voice their feelings for a proposed visitor and flexible accommodation of more than 100 units in the hamlet of Dead Man’s Flats.

But the quick hearing lasted just under 10 minutes and had no members of the community speak in either favour or opposition. However, four written submissions were received, including one from Alberta Transportation.

Jenny Kasprowicz, a planner with the MD of Bighorn, said the letters outlined concerns of the new interchange, parking issues, mixing uses between commercial and residential and the capacity of infrastructure in Dead Man’s Flats.

The proposed mixed-use building has an early conceptual plan of 105 units, with 31 being for visitor accommodation and the remaining 74 for flexible accommodation. The ground floor would be for commercial use.

If approved, the plans would have to go through the development permit stage and the Municipal Planning Commission would have to OK the conceptual scheme before permits are issued.

The municipality’s operations department would also have to review any plans and a third-party engineering firm would look at the plans and return to council.

The first reading for the project was on Nov. 9.

If ultimately approved, four lots of land from the Dead Man’s Flats highway commercial district would need to be amended to the commercial mixed-use district.

The building has proposed a mix of above and underground parking, but it’s not until the development permit stage when the exact spots will be known. The land use bylaw allows a maximum of 125, though the conceptual scheme had it tentatively at 131 both above and belowground.

The aboveground parking would be for the commercial properties and underground for visitor and flexible units.

The MD of Bighorn’s municipal development plan (MDP) requires future development for commercial use to be geared towards tourism, recreationalist and local residents.

The hearing was originally set for Dec. 6, but was delayed until Jan. 11 due to an error in a public notice with the incorrect address for the MD of Bighorn.

Though minor, the municipality postponed the hearing for a month to meet the requirements of the Municipal Government Act and allow residents to support or oppose the potential development.

Adjacent property owners received a mailed notice, but the broader advertisement allowed all residents the opportunity to express their opinions.

At the Dec. 6 meeting, the lone submission was from Alberta Transportation on a possible future realignment of the intersection from the Trans Canada Highway that would redirect traffic to 2nd Avenue.

The submission noted there were no immediate plans for doing so and the province had not set any budget for any potential project.

With the proposed visitor and flexible accommodation in the early stages, the province could still offer comments in the conceptual plan and development permit stage if it is approved to that point.

Max Tayefi, the agent for landowner Minesh Modi and president of the Calgary-based MMP Engineering, said they were aware of the aspect in the ARP but didn’t foresee any issues.

The study had been referenced in the Dead Man’s Flats area redevelopment plan, but it was more in the background than anything coming down the pipeline.

“Note that the need for, and timing of, the proposed overpass will be due to growth in Dead Man’s Flats, but would likely be as a result of the need to replace aging infrastructure or growth in the Town of Canmore,” the ARP stated.

The ARP was adopted by council in 2013 and is the guiding map for redevelopment in the hamlet for residential, commercial, high industrial, recreational and tourism-based uses.

The ultimate goal of the plan is a pedestrian-orientated area that has commercial, residential, office and other uses.

Bighorn’s MDP doesn’t allow people to stay longer than 75 days in a visitor accommodation unit, but there is no cap on flexible units that could lead to a population increase in Dead Man’s Flats.

Any taxes collected on the proposed build would be in the commercial bracket.

The November meeting when first reading was passed heard from staff that water and sewer capacities could be pushed over its existing limits. Any plans that are approved would need further assessments for water, wastewater, stormwater, traffic impact, safety, geotechnical and hydrogeological.

The hamlet is on the Town of Canmore’s water and wastewater system.