Villeneuve plans prompt noise ruckus
Shows need for better sound standards, says mayor
By: Kevin Ma
| Posted: Saturday, Jul 28, 2012 06:00 am
Residents’ reaction to a proposed neighbourhood near Walmart and Villeneuve Road show that St. Albert needs to beef up its rules for noise, says the mayor.
About 55 people came to the St. Albert Alliance Church on Villeneuve Rd. Thursday night for an open house on a proposed area structure plan for the region.
The plan, if implemented, would see roughly 6,500 people settle on the 150-hectares of farmland around the church between Walmart and Hogan Rd. over the next 10 years.
This was the public’s first look at the proposal, which does not yet have a formal name. (It is also not part of the so-called Badger lands, which are west of Hogan.)
Proponent Jordan Davis of Melcor Developments envisioned a mostly residential neighbourhood with a blob of commercial in the northeast.
“You will see the larger single-family homes,” he said, as well as some townhouses and maybe even some small apartments. There’s a definite need for this mix of housing in St. Albert, he added, noting that the development should meet the Capital Region Board’s density target of about 30 units per hectare.
The plan would also have two stormwater ponds, four accesses onto Villeneuve Rd. and a site for a school, he continued. The plan includes, but does not touch, the lands around the St. Albert Alliance Church, as the developer doesn’t own that area.
Residents at the meeting raised concerns about traffic, noise and the environment, many of which could not be answered by the developer at this point in the application process.
Mayor Nolan Crouse voiced frustration with concerns he heard about noise along Villeneuve Rd., saying that the city’s noise standards for new developments aren’t strong enough. “Let’s fix this standard.”
Noise about noise
Deer Ridge resident Steve Blanchard was one of several people to speak up about noise during the meeting.
“The current traffic gets very noisy,” he said, especially when the “suburban commandoes” roar by on their motorbikes. While concerned that adding more people to this region would worsen the problem, he hoped this new plan would bring improved noise control to the road. “I want to make sure they really look hard at noise abatement.”
Lacombe Park resident Lawrence Burt pointed out that this plan would load a lot of people onto St. Albert Trail. “Just imagine 6,000 people plus whoever’s in that shopping area trying to access the highway in that one location. There’s going to be some infuriated people.”
The developer had yet to do traffic and noise impact studies for the plan, said consultant Blaydon Dibben, but would do so before submitting this plan to council. He had no details about noise attenuation, but said the plan would follow the city’s standards (which require no more than 65 decibels of noise averaged over 24 hours).
A 24-hour average doesn’t cut it for noise control, Crouse said. “It’s like having a foot in a pail of boiling water and a foot in a pail of freezing water and saying I’m okay,” he said. “We have to have a stronger policy than the provincial standard.”
This development likely would make traffic on St. Albert Trail more crowded, he continued, but a four-lane arterial included in the city’s transportation master plan (which would run around the development from Ray Gibbon Drive to the Trail) could take cars off Villeneuve Rd., making it more of a residential street. He wanted the developer to include that road in its plan.
A resident who identified himself as Blayn Newton wanted to know about a large wetland in the plan area that was frequented by Canada geese. “Usually in the fall there’s about a thousand of them, and I don’t know where else they’re going to go,” he said. “I’d like to see that wetland protected.”
The wetland would not be preserved, Davis said, but part of it would be converted into a stormwater pond. “The intent is to keep a good portion of the water body today in that location.” His team had asked the province if it had to provide compensation for the loss of the wetland.
Davis said his team would tweak its plan based on this feedback and present it to council early next year. That would likely lead to a second open house and a public hearing.
Email Dibben at email@example.com for further details.