At County Council
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 23, 2013 06:00 am
Green Hennessey green-lit
County council gave its final thumbs-up to a new subdivision atop Peas On Earth farm this week, but gave its proponent a stern warning: no reservoir means no development.
Council voted unanimously in favour of third reading to rezone a chunk of land across the street from Allin Ridge Estates to Country Residential – Estate from Agricultural. The move all-but clears the way for the construction of the Green Hennessey subdivision on that land.
The 58-lot subdivision has been in the works for about five years, said project spokesperson Bill Minnes of Bradwill Consultants, speaking before council. Built on the current site of the Peas On Earth farm, it will eventually feature a day care and a health-centre.
Council had previously changed its municipal development and Sturgeon Valley area structure plans to allow this development to go ahead, but had raised concerns about the region’s water capacity. There were also ongoing questions on the off-site levies the county would charge the developer, as those were still under development.
The Allin Ridge reservoir is now at capacity, said Collin Steffes, the county’s manager of planning and development, and the county has budgeted $500 million to expand it in 2014. Green Hennessey’s developers have agreed to chip in cash and hand over land for the expansion, but haven’t worked out the details.
Coun. Tom Flynn supported the project, but said he was wary of having it go ahead before the county had secured the land for the reservoir’s expansion from the developer. “It’s a critical piece we have to put to bed before we can have any further development.”
Mayor Don Rigney echoed his comments, noting that some residents were already reporting that their taps were running dry. “The key is we need the land for the reservoir.”
While administration had originally proposed holding off on third reading until it had figured out its new off-site levies for the Sturgeon Valley – something which should happen later this year – Coun. Don McGeachy moved to put Green Hennessey to a final vote immediately.
“The operative word in what everyone’s been talking about is ‘agreement,’” he said. Council and administration can still stop this project at the development agreement stage if the levies or the reservoir prove to be deal-breakers.
Coun. Joe Milligan supported McGeachy’s move, but told administration to make it clear to the developer that no reservoir would mean no development. Chief administrative officer Peter Tarnawsky said he would do so.
Minnes hoped to start construction this summer, he said in an interview, with the first homes ready by next year.
Laying ground for upgrader
County council broke open its piggy bank this week to lay more groundwork for a new bitumen upgrader.
Council voted unanimously in favour of tapping into a $125,000 contingency fund to help plan for the proposed North West Upgrader.
North West Upgrading and Canadian Natural Upgrading Ltd. announced last November that they planned to build a $5.7-billion bitumen upgrader south of Redwater. Construction is set to begin this spring.
Council set aside this money to hire consultants to finish the permits, response plans and tax assessments needed to accommodate the upgrader whenever it was built, Tarnawsky said. Administration would not tap into this fund until they had used up any surpluses they had this year, he added.
Flynn supported the move. “We have to do everything we can to make sure we are a helping hand in this process.”
Tarnawsky promised regular updates on how the funds would be used.