Friday, January 16, 2015

Mayor Anderberg speaks to MD council about community housing initiatives

Mayor Don Anderberg 

  • Former RCMP building and current fire hall among possible development sites 

Christian Davis

Town of Pincher Creek Mayor Don Anderberg appeared as a delegation before council for the Municipal District (MD) of Pincher Creek at their January 13 meeting. Mayor Anderberg was representing the Town's Community Housing Committee. Also present were councillor and committee members Tammy Rubbelke and David Green of Family and Community Support Services (FCSS). Town councillor Adrian Hartman is also a member of the committee, as is Town CAO Laurie Wilgosh, but they were not present at this meeting. The Community Housing Committee has been charged with the task of identifying new housing possibilities in the town of Pincher Creek.

A letter to MD council from Mayor Anderberg explains the current situation. "The Community Housing Committee recommended to (Town) Council to review development of multi­family housing and potential commercial or community uses to meet present and future demands of the community on six sites which include the Fire Hall property and the vacant parcel east of the Fire Hall." During his presentation to MD council Mayor Anderberg said that the former RCMP building on Main street was also one of those sites.

The fire hall is, of course, home to Pincher Creek Emergency Services (PCES), which is jointly funded by the Town and the MD. MD council recently decided to form their own Emergency Management Agency, withdrawing from the joint Pincher Creek Community Emergency Management Agency established by the previous Town and MD councils. The dust hasn't settled on that issue yet, but it is in current practice a separate issue from the joint funding and operation of PCES. Therefore, the possible demolition and relocation of the fire hall is of importance to both councils.

Anderberg told MD council that after a February "visioning session" for the Town "One of the three main areas that came out of that was housing in Pincher Creek". To that end the Community Housing Committee was created. "We looked at the possibilities of where we could go and what type of land the Town actually owned and had available."  Anderberg said the committee discussed and investigated many possibilities before narrowing it down to three, and then "We came out with one area we wanted to work on immediately. Basically why we are here is to bring you up to date on that particular endeavour."

Anderberg told MD council that a Request For Proposal has been issued for a concept plan.

"There's two pieces of property involved," Anderberg continued, identifying the old RCMP building on Main Street, and the fire hall area. "We do have four lots altogether, in that area, directly across from the fire hall."

"We've had numerous proposals for that land, over the years." 

"The building we are jointly involved in is the fire hall," said Anderberg. He explained that one of current restrictions to possible redevelopment of the site is a storm sewer drain "that is currently a challenge to expanding onto the present fire hall". It runs under the alleyway behind the fire hall.

"We have to look at the overall view here, and come up with a plan that may have to include the fire hall. We don't know that yet."

"We want to do some development down there. There's some real housing needs in the Town of Pincher Creek. It would be the easiest and fastest way to address some of these needs. But we want to do in in the right manner, with the right information, and make sure everything is taken care of, and everybody is taken care of, up to and including EMS."

"We do have some ideas, but we'd like to put the whole package together."

At the conclusion of Mayor Anderberg's presentation he answered questions from MD council. Councillor Fred Schoening asked what the vision was for affordable housing. Anderberg replied that the visioning process for housing began when our area was being considered for the 2019 Canada Winter Games, as part of Lethbridge's (since failed) bid. "We actually had to come up with a concept for that. We put in the bid, so we actually have a concept for a type of affordable housing unit."

"Its not necessarily affordable housing, or low rental housing, or rental housing, period, it's developing for capacity."

"The thing is, we have both those pieces of property under our parent control," he said, adding that the centralized location of the properties was ideal. 

Reeve Brian Hammond asked if there was a timeline. "Our vision was to have some of this in place in two years, and we are already a year into it," replied Anderberg. Reeve Hammond also asked "How does the fire hall and its present use fit or not fit with your idea of how the rest of the area might be developed?" Anderberg deferred comment, saying the Town wanted to get some expert opinions before deciding on a final plan.

"We are on the ground step of putting this concept together."

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