Urban councils off-base on Villeneuve
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 22, 2012 06:00 am
I want to express my anger and even embarrassment over the action of our city council in opposing the legitimate desires of the residents of the Villeneuve area to provide housing and development for their citizens.
The proposed area structure plan is not a startup rural development as the Capital Region Board seems to describe in denying the application. The hamlet of Villeneuve has been an important part of that farming area for generations and many farmers are looking forward to retirement and want to live in Villeneuve and be close to family and friends. Villeneuve has churches, shopping and a seniors home, along with some important industrial development and an airport. The hamlet also needs additional services and more homes. The final plan that I saw offered a nice balance of housing for the area.
I attended the public hearings over the past four years and I do believe that Landrex, one of the developers, made a number of changes to accommodate the local residents, especially in their desire to have larger lots with backyards where they could have a garden. The mix that Landrex proposed was done as a result of a lot of consultation with the farmer residents of the area who made it clear they did not want to be jammed into high density housing when they retire.
Who is this Ed Gibbons on Edmonton city council to force high density housing on rural folks? Not much better than our mayor with his comments about Villeneuve being a new growth area. It is not and I think that the proposed growth proposal of a gradual increase of up to 6,000 residents in the next two decades is a very reasonable growth pattern and in keeping with the needs of that district.
I agree with Sturgeon County Mayor Donald Rigney that this decision makes his county residents second-class citizens. And Edmonton shouldn’t have that much to say in local decisions especially with its record of leapfrog development which will ultimately cost Edmonton taxpayers.
The other issue is the matter of Villeneuve Airport, which cannot grow as a major general aviation airport unless it gets access to services. This airport, which will become a major factor in this area once the Edmonton City Centre Airport closes, needs to expand its general aviation service including the extension of the main east/west runway to 5,000 feet to accommodate fixed wing air ambulance and general aviation services aircraft whose operators don’t want to move out to the international airport, which the Edmonton airport authority is trying to force on operators.
Most of general aviation expansion will be to service the North and especially the massive expansion of oilsands development. Our council has got its head in the sand on this issue and should be supporting the development of the Villeneuve Airport, which is only 15 minutes to the west.
This also puts our Sturgeon Community Hospital only 15 minutes away from the airport, which could be a major factor in the event of an industrial accident in the North when rapid access to a hospital could be a life or death matter.
Bob Russell, St. Albert