Riverside Springs rolls on
Bylaw paves way for new Cardiff-sized community by Gibbons
Wednesday, Jul 09, 2014 06:00 am
Up to a thousand people could soon move into homes east of Gibbons now that county council has rezoned land for a long-stalled subdivision – a move that could cost the county some $3.1 million.
Council voted 4-1 in favour of rezoning some 176 hectares of agricultural land east of Gibbons and south of Casa Vista to country residential estate as part of the Riverside Springs project. Coun. Susan Evans was opposed, while councillors Jerry Kaup and Patrick Tighe were absent.
Developer Inca Ventures Inc. proposed to build about 340 homes on these lands back in 2010 as part of the Riverside Springs subdivision. It was approved under the county’s old municipal development plan but has been on hold ever since due to financial issues.
The company also proposed a second 65-hectare, 175-lot project called Sierra Ridge just north of Riverside Springs.
Concerned that these two projects could add about a thousand people (roughly the size of Cardiff) to this region, council asked the developer last April to provide a study proving that this project was sustainable.
Inca Ventures director Gordon Letcher told council that the project should turn a profit even if just two of its seven phases go ahead.
He also proposed to set up a condominium board to manage the region’s infrastructure. This board would protect the county from having to pay for the region’s roads and pipes should the project fail.
“The risk to the county is almost non-existent.”
Letcher said that this project would bring in millions in tax revenues to the county and tap into rising demand triggered by growth in the industrial heartland.
“If we wait any longer, we may miss this economic cycle. It is imperative this project not be delayed any further.”
Administration opposed Inca’s proposal on several grounds.
First, the county had no experience with condo boards and condo-style developments, said county development officer Colin Krywiak. The board might cut corners on infrastructure or become insolvent, leaving the county with the bill to fix everything.
This development would also account for about 60 per cent of the growth planned in this region under the county’s new municipal development plan, he continued – a plan that did not envision this kind of housing development in this spot. It would also make this region the second most populous place in the county after the Sturgeon Valley.
And the developer wanted the county to pay for about $3.12 million in road and sewer upgrades to the region – upgrades that the developer was originally supposed to pay for itself under the county’s offsite levy bylaw.
That’s $3 million the county won’t have to spend on other projects, Evans argued.
“It’s going to be an immediate impact to our capital plan,” she said.
“If we’re going to build another community the size of Cardiff or bigger, what are we going to put on hold?”
Coun. Karen Shaw argued in favour of the proposal. This project was within cycling distance of the Sturgeon Industrial Park (in which the county had invested a pile of money), was adjacent to an existing neighbourhood and had already been approved by the Capital Region Board. Council could also resolve many of its concerns at the development agreement stage.
“This has been four years in the making. This is not new. This is not ad-hoc development.”
Mayor Tom Flynn said he wasn’t sold on the idea of a condo board, but was okay with this rezoning provided the county reviewed its offsite levy bylaw.
Council moved unanimously to have administration work with Inca to address council’s infrastructure and capital concerns.