Council votes to rezone Dairy Road
Pass Herald Reporter
Council has voted in favour of rezoning Dairy Road Park following two meetings of public hearings.
Many residents came out to speak in favour or against the proposed rezoning over the two separate meetings.
Council originally targeted this location for a transition to residential based on the Municipal Development Plan.
The MDP identifies Dairy Road Park for transition to higher density residential development.
The proposed bylaw 1078, 2021, implements the Municipal Development Plan direction.
Subsequent to rezoning, a developer would have to apply for a development permit.
Townhouses are named as a discretionary use under Residential R-3 zoning.
A development permit application would include details about the proposed site plan, the number of townhouses being proposed, setbacks, landscaping, and parking, among other considerations.
A development permit application for townhouses or any multi-family residential development (except an apartment building not exceeding three storeys) would be considered by the Municipal Planning Commission, and may be approved or denied.
During the public hearing, residents had their chance to say whether they were for or against this bylaw.
Local resident Matt Perry stated that he is against this bylaw for multiple reasons, one being the history of the location.
"This green space has had multiple lives but it's always been a place this community could gather, whether it was a ball diamond, tennis courts or open space. Through this process, I'm grateful to have learned more of its history and what this park means to our neighbours. It's more than just a vacant piece of grass. It holds 100 years of memories for people who grew up here, watched their kids play there and hold a vision for it to continue to be a community gathering place."
Perry also says he’s against the rezoning because of the location.
"This green space is a unique location. It blends the natural area and drops right into the community. I've watched little league games and fly fishing clinics, my wife and I have gotten to know our neighbours as we throw a ball for our dog and we've seen kids take their training wheels off after learning how to bike in the field."
Perry also stated he was present at the meeting on behalf of 130 people who signed a petition opposing the loss of the green space.
Another resident who spoke against the bylaw was Ian Crawford.
Crawford first briefly spoke as President of the Bellecrest Association, saying the Association is against the bylaw.
Crawford then went on to personal reasons he is against the bylaw.
"The Municipal Planning Commission wrote a letter of support and I looked at that letter. It's quite interesting. It says that it recommends facilitating the development of low cost multi-family housing over a loss of recreation space. It says it's worthwhile if that's the case. Is this low cost multi-family housing? That's my question. The working poor that we really need to address here in this community are not the customers for these houses. What these working poor people need is rental index to income near amenities. I'm quite familiar with many of these families. Many don't have transportation. We don't have public transportation to speak of really so they need to live in Blairmore. That's their only rental housing choice because they can walk to all the amenities. Bellevue doesn't have any of those amenities to speak of for those people."
Crawford also spoke saying he doesn’t believe there is a way to ensure the families who need these homes will secure them.
"How many of these homes are going to become rental stock? Zero, I'd imagine. How many of them would be guaranteed to people here that need them? Near zero, I'd imagine. It will be people with money who would buy one. It means people that you're trying to address, the people you are speaking about that you are trying to help with this project, are not going to be helped by it."
Many other residents echoed similar concerns as Perry and Crawford.
Other residents also touched on how the overall loss of the green space would impact their family negatively by needing to travel further for their children to have places to run free.
Another concern brought forward was the concern of wildlife at other parks surrounding Bellevue compared to Dairy Road Park.
One person who spoke in favour of the proposed change was General Manager for Ashcroft Homes, Dave Bodell.
Bodell spoke on what people he sees living in these homes.
"I've lived in Lethbridge my entire life and I grew up camping with my parents in a tent trailer. We loved it here. We spent as much time as we could in the Crowsnest Pass. I have raised a family of three children and we've spent a lot of time in the Pass and hiked a lot of the mountains here. The stage of life that I'm at right now, I have an opportunity to offer opportunity to my son for instance who happens to be living in my house right now and who is responsible for the construction of our Ashcroft homes. We love your community. I have a lot of friends in Lethbridge that have had to sell their places to help get them across the line because they can't go there anymore. Covid changed the way we're all living. They're looking for areas to be able to bring their families to where they can enjoy the mountains and enjoy the parks and enjoy the recreation that exists here. I have a number of friends who would love to retire out here but they're not in a position to have a second home. They're not in a position to have a large home but they're in a position to have something that's affordable. I believe that a lot of these homes that you're talking about will not just be young families. It will be people that will retire here. They'll want the quiet and they want the things that you all have spoken about this evening."
Following the public hearing, Council then entered into discussion and relayed the reasoning behind their thinking to everyone in attendance.
Councillor Filipuzzi says part of the reason for his choice to support this rezoning is that he represents all of the Crowsnest Pass and not just the people of Bellevue so he has to do what’s needed for the entire community.
“"We try to come together as a community. When I sit here today and I have to make this decision, I have to make this decision what's in the best interest of this community. Not Bellevue, Hillcrest, Coleman or Blairmore. The Crowsnest Pass. I was elected to represent the people of the Crowsnest Pass."
Councillor Sygutek also spoke to her reasons for supporting the bylaw.
"When we thought the mines were going to happen, we did several studies in the community. What we found was shocking and it was shocking because I don't live in the same lifestyle that the majority of the people in the community do. We know that 52 per cent of our population is making under provincial standards. We know that there are 400 people that are trying to live in this community and over 30 per cent of their income is going towards rent. We have more green space in this community than anything. We have so much green space that we have some houses that can have a fire and some houses that can't during a fire ban, because those houses are in provincial green space land and others are on municipal land. We live in green space. If you have to walk a little bit to go and use a green space, I think you should do that in order for somebody to have somewhere to live. You are lucky in Bellevue. You have Firemans Park. UROC has made a ton of biking trails in this community for you to walk on with your animals and in this community with your children. We have studies from a person who lives right there, who's absolutely in favour of it and he was too scared to come and talk because of how he'd get treated. He's been taking stats since June 9th of the usage of that park. The numbers are pretty dismal to be honest. I really believed that when we announced we were going to do this the community would rejoice. I really thought that we would say it's about time that we took care of all those people in our community. I'm shocked that so many people feel that that green space is more important than somebody having the opportunity to have a better life."
Other Councillors also gave their viewpoints on the rezoning and all were in favour of it.
Mayor Painter was the last member of Council to speak on the rezoning.
"15 per cent of our population, 855 people, need a place to live that they can afford. That's a good chunk. We are elected to do the best that we can do for our community. It's been pointed out to us that we need attainable housing. We need to look after the residents of the Crowsnest Pass. In this particular development, there is still going to be park space. This is attainable housing. These are entry-level homes that people can start off life with. I can't believe that folks would rather have us walk away from this type of development and leave vulnerable people, people that don't have a chance to have their own home."
Following discussion, Councillor Ward made a motion for second reading and that motion was carried.
Councillor Sygutek then made a motion for third and final reading.
That motion was also carried, passing the bylaw.