Erin Ridge school questions return to council
Soil testing in Eldorado Park has residents concerned site was moved without consultation
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 06:00 am
Soil and geotechnical testing for the future school site in Eldorado Park was a hot topic at city council Monday.
Four Erin Ridge residents, including members of the Erin Ridge Residents’ Action Committee, were on hand to bring questions and concerns to council, while councillors wanted to know if the city had given permission for the province to send its contractors onto the site.
“I’m just shocked that anybody can pull in a rig,” said Mayor Nolan Crouse.
“So anybody can go and drill a hole on public land?” Coun. Cathy Heron asked, noting the mounds of dirt she saw from the testing had been flagged.
Carol Bergum, director of planning and development for the city, said in an interview on Tuesday after the council meeting that permission had been granted through the public works department for the testing to occur.
Erin Ridge Residents’ Action Committee member Murray Lambert and other residents were concerned that the site testing appeared to not be where they expected the school site to be on Eldorado Park, suggesting the city had altered the area structure plan without going through the proper process.
“The latest developments at the Eldorado Park site have again upped the ante in this dispute with a major departure from the original construction plans moving the school to a different location on the site,” Lambert said.
Resident Glen Hauk said his discussions with the contractors who were on site indicated the site was being moved to the northwest part of the park.
“They were told that was where the school site is going,” he said, asking council if the site has been moved and if the 2.99 acres is still the expected footprint.
Action committee member Bill Van Hoof presented to council some suggestions for how to address the root cause of the traffic volume on Erin Ridge Drive and Eldorado Drive. His ideas included some road closures so just local residents were using the roads as collectors rather than the streets being used as shortcuts for many St. Albert drivers.
“There is a need to look at traffic volume reduction strategies in the Erin Ridge area rather than just working on mitigation measures,” Van Hoof said.
Finally, Erin Ridge Residents’ Action Committee member Laurine Sanderson also asked questions about the school site and any area structure plan amendments, as well as expressing the concern about the magnitude of traffic in Erin Ridge.
“We’re at the point now where we’re calling Erin Ridge Drive Erin Ridge Freeway,” she said.
When council asked staff they were assured the site would remain at 2.99 acres. Heron said residents need to know if moving the site from the northeast corner of the site is being contemplated.
City manager Patrick Draper told council that, given residents’ concerns about the site, they did ask Alberta Infrastructure to consider whether there was a site on the park that would be better for traffic, adding different options for the site set up are being looked at as part of the traffic impact assessment.
David Hales, general manager of planning and engineering for St. Albert, did tell council that if they decided to move the school site to elsewhere on Eldorado Park, it would come back to council.
Bergum said in the post-council meeting interview that a communication plan is being worked on to keep stakeholders in the loop. She also said there may be a need for more soil testing so the contractors might come back.
“Nothing’s been finalized,” Bergum said of the school design.
Like Hales, she said if the site is moved to elsewhere in Eldorado Park, there would at least have to be a re-districting, which would involve a public hearing.
Alberta Infrastructure spokesperson Tracy Larsen said the specific location of the school is up to the city. She confirmed that geotechnical testing and the traffic impact assessment are happening.