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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Hillcrest Meadows Area Structure Plan fails second reading



Chris Davis - Council for the Town of Pincher Creek held a public hearing in the Town Hall gymnasium on the evening of Monday, August 14. The hearing was in regards to proposed bylaw (Bylaw 1621-17), the Hillcrest Meadows Area Structure Plan, which was designed to "create a framework for the future subdivision and development of a new neighborhood in Northwestern Pincher Creek". Mayor Don Anderberg and councillors Duane Filipuzzi, Jim Litkowski, Mark Barber, and Lorne Jackson were present, as was Town CAO Laurie Wilgosh. Councillor Wayne Elliott was absent. Councillor Doug Thornton recused himself from the proceedings due to having a pecuniary interest in the matter. Approximately 90 citizens were in attendance. The tone and mood of many of the citizens in attendance and speaking to council was noticeably hostile.

After hearing from engineer Ed Martin, 13 critical citizens, and receiving numerous letters and a petition with 132 signatories opposed to the proposed bylaw, council ultimately voted against it on second reading.



Background

According to documents, "EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd. operating as EBA, A Tetra Tech Company (EBA) was retained by Mr. Doug Thornton to complete a geotechnical engineering review of a slope stability assessment conducted by EBA on the project site in 2004." A 1996 engineering study was conducted for the slopes within the east area of the overall development site. "The 2004 study included the western area of the proposed subdivision development, as well as a review of the 1996 study to confirm that the assumptions made in 1996 were still valid at the time of 2004."

Proposed Hillcrest Meadows (EBA Engineering Consultants Ltd. photos)
"As part of the assessment, EBA conducted a review of the summary reports for both the 1996 and 2004 slope stability evaluations. In addition, EBA conducted a detailed site visual reconnaissance of the project site on May 8, 2013. A number of photographs taken during the site reconnaissance are attached to this letter report and are referenced below in the commentary."

"The geotechnical report recommended a safe development setback line from the top of the bank "where any slope instability would impact the property on the prairie side of the setback line".  A field drilling program assessed the soil stratigraphy of the area and develop engineering parameters for the analysis.   The presence of groundwater was recognized through the field program and taken into account in the analysis."

More highlights from the geotechnical report:

"Based on the engineering review conducted on the slope stability assessments conducted in 1996 and 2004 for the subject development site, the recommendations contained in those reports for the safe development setback lines established remain valid in our engineering opinion."

"Where the FOS (Factor of Safety) was greater than 1.5 at the Top-of-Bank, a minimum recommended setback of 6 m from the Top-of-Bank was given to allow public access behind the proposed residential lots, as well as to safe guard against minor surficial movements of the slopes within the vegetation root depth during periods of significant precipitation."

"Generally speaking, the slopes at the east end of the overall project site were characterized by slope instability over the majority of the area; whereas the slopes in the central area and west end of the project development site were noted to be stable without visual characterization of instabilities ongoing."

"Generally, the landslide mass located within the ‘eastern’ slopes of the development area has not regressed to any significant extent from that noted in 1996.  This is for both, the head scarp near the top of the slopes, and the landslide mass at the toe of slope."

"The  groundwater regime presented  in  the  summary  reports  appears  valid  in  2013,  as  both  seep locations noted in 1996 remain similar in 2013."

"The landslide mass within the slopes was noted to be more pronounced than that noted in 2004, in that the tension cracks and head scarp depth appeared to have ‘deepened’ slightly from the previous site reconnaissance conducted by EBA in 2004."

"The slope stability conditions in the central and western areas of the development site remain similar to that reported in 2004, as from our site reconnaissance in 2013 no significant slope instabilities were noted in these areas that would impact the recommendations previously recommended (i.e., 2004)."

"The current conditions of the site were anticipated in 2004, in that it is expected over time that the head scarp will regress to the defined Top-of-Bank and beyond; however, will not exceed the limits established by the setback development line restriction.  To this date, the regression has been minimal from that noted in 2004."

"With regard to the bottom of slope, a development setback line was not established for that area, given the location  of  private  property  (primarily  in  the  east  third  of  the  development  site).    From  our  review however, it also does not appear that any significant movement of the toe of the slide mass has occurred."

On June 08, 2017 Martin Geomatic Consultants Ltd. presented a stormwater management concept for the proposed subdivision to Thornton & Sons. Excerpts from their report:

"The topography of the subject parcel splits drainage into three main catchment areas. A high point (approximate elevation 1161 m) exists along the Pincher Creek escarpment west of the proposed Ken Thornton Boulevard. West of this ridge, drainage is channeled into several small coulee draws, discharging into Pincher Creek near the eastern edge of the Foxborough subdivision. East of the high point, drainage flows overland in poorly-defined channels to the edge of the escarpment, where it flows into Pincher Creek. From north of the high point, drainage presently flows eastward into the Northeast Pincher Creek basin which follows Highway 507 eastward, then Highway 6 northward, then flows overland eastward into the Northeast Pincher Creek stormwater management facility, eventually discharging into Pincher Creek approximately 3 km east near the Town’s eastern boundary."

(Martin Geomatic Consultants Ltd. - 100 year 24 hour storm plan)

"The proposed stormwater management system for the Hillcrest Meadows Subdivision includes minor and major systems to accommodate runoff. The minor system consists of underground storm sewers, manholes and catchbasins designed to accommodate a 1 in 5 year storm event. The major system is designed to accommodate runoff from up to a 1 in 100 year storm and includes stormwater storage facilities and overland flow routes such as roads and pathways. A multi-use dry pond / park will be located at the existing Municipal Reserve (MR) parcel to store runoff and attenuate flows. The dry pond will remain empty and dry under normal conditions and will be used as a park with landscaping, pathways, and playground equipment. During a storm event the runoff from within the proposed development will be directed into the pond through the underground storm sewer system and along the overland flow routes. The pond will fill up and is designed to store the runoff from a 1 in 100 year storm event. The preliminary design of the pond assumes a zero release scenario (during the storm). The detailed design will be updated as an allowable release rate is determined through further consultation with the Town of Pincher Creek based on downstream residual capacity. The pond will be drained through a control structure to the northeast gravity sewer when adequate downstream capacity exists. The existing gravity sewer flows northerly along Tumbleweed Avenue and drains north and east via ditches and culverts to the Pincher Creek Northeast SWMF, and ultimately discharges to the Pincher Creek. An emergency overflow will be provided from the Hillcrest Meadows dry pond to the designated escape route to the northeast. Figure 3 – Stormwater Major System shows the major overland drainage concept, and the minor system is shown in Figure 4 – Stormwater Minor System. Individual storm sewer services will be provided for each lot to allow for foundation drain connections."

"The dry pond proposed in the Hillcrest Meadows development is not intended to provide significant water quality enhancement as there is no permanent pool of water for sediment removal. Stormwater quality objectives will be achieved at the downstream wet lands prior to discharge to the receiving watercourse."

"The proposed Hillcrest Meadows stormwater detention facility (dry pond) will collect and store runoff during a storm event, which will then be released when downstream conditions allow. The pond must be sized to store the entire volume of water received up to a 100 year 24 hour storm event."

"The total combined catchment area for the site is 9.49 ha which includes the Hillcrest Meadows ultimate development plus contributing offsite areas. The contributing offsite areas include the back of lots along Tumbleweed Avenue which will drain directly into the pond, and the West end of Tumbleweed Avenue at Livingstone Way. The contributing area for the Hillcrest Meadows pond is 7.56 ha which is designed for a zero release system. The area draining northerly from Tumbleweed Avenue to Livingstone Way is 0.72 ha. The area draining easterly to Tumbleweed Avenus is 0.36 ha. The area draining easterly to Crocus Street is 0.11 ha."

Council and public consultation

Council unanimously passed first reading of the proposed bylaw on June 26 during a regular public meeting.  Lethbridge company Martin Geomatic Consultants Ltd.  (MGCL) hosted an open house information session about the proposed project on July 26.  MGCL initially proposed a development that would include a dry pond, a park, storm water management, an environmental preserve, an extension of Crocus Street, 78 stand-alone homes, and a multi-dwelling complex.  According to the plan, "The site consists of 2 parcels of privately owned land and one MR site containing 1.75 ha (4.3 acres) that is owned by the Town of Pincher Creek. All of the privately owned parcels are owned by Beverley Holdings Ltd. (which is owned by councillor Thornton) and in total contains 16.01 ha (39.6 acres)."  

The site comprises a total of 17.76 ha (42.8 acres) in the northwest area of Pincher Creek. It is bound on the south by the coulees, creek, and then the Town. To the north is the existing residential development known as North Hill. The westerly boundary is adjacent to existing single family units on a large lot development with a very hilly site. The existing MR (Municipal Reserve) site is surrounded on the north and east by existing single family housing development. - Hillcrest Meadows Area Structure Plan
Town administration supported the bylaw "as it will provide for a framework for the future subdivision development of a new neighborhood," and because "it is a continuation of Area Structure Plan Number One (West of Hewetson Avenue)."

Challenges for the proposed plan included an approximate 40 foot drop "ftom the southwest corner to the northeast corner of the land being considered... which would suggest  careful  grading and terracing will  be required.  The street  system  based  on the original contours, was designed to act as  an interceptor to drain water from the south and west sides of the Area Structure Plan."

Access problems potentially limit "the type of development which could be accommodated at this site  (commercial,  medium density residential, institutional)" include soil stability, topography, and serviceability (particularly sanitary sewer).

From the proposal: "Phasing of construction would most logically proceed from east to west, consistent with a systematic extension of water and sewer services. in accordance with the General Plan, there is a demand for mobile home lots in Pincher Creek. Since these lots are located in the eastern portion of the sub-division, this demand also supports an east to west phasing scheme."

"The structure of the proposed street system in this Area Structure Plan is basically a loop street with two connections to the Beauvais Lake Road. The secondary system consists of sub-loops and cul-de-sacs. The system is designed to respond to the contours of the site. The property to the west was recently annexed into the Town (January, 1981) and shall be designated for future residential development."

Mobile home subdivision in progress

According to the documents provided for the hearing, a new mobile home subdivision is now underway, and lots are being sold to the public. Phase one includes 29 mobile home lots, two single family lots, and a new access to Beauvais Lake Road at Tumbleweed Avenue.  Phase two includes 16 mobile home lots, 6 single family lots, a 2.71  acre multi-family dwelling site, and includes access to the park site.  Phases three through six were to include 25,  26,  27, and 25 single family lots respectively,

Overhead photograph of proposed development area (Martin Geomatic Consultants)
Public hearing/feedback

Council heard from consultant Ed Martin, 13 citizen's who spoke at the hearing, and also received a significant amount of correspondence from the public about the proposed plan.  In some cases below I have amalgamated what individuals said at the hearing with their written submissions.

Consultant Ed Martin

Ed Martin of Martin Geomatic Consultants Ltd. (Lethbridge) spoke first at the public hearing.  He addressed some of the issues brought forward from the July 26, 2017 open house hosted by his firm, including concerns about multi-family units, slope stability (particularly on the east and south end of the designated area). drainage issues, pressures from additional homes to the existing infrastructure, and access.  He said plans originally included a road which would no longer be considered, as the designation was changing to single-family homes for the area.

Ed Martin 
Martin said the project would include a dry storm pond, to be designed as a fully functional landscaped park with walking paths, irrigation, and landscaping.

(Martin Geomatic Consultants Ltd. graphics)
According to Martin tests were run on the area for slope stability by EBA consulting geotechnical engineering firm in 1996, 2004, 2013, and in 2016 supplied a report to Town Council.

He suggesting changing the designation of parcel B to Large Lot Use, or Environmental Reserve. Council later decided to have it identified as an Environmental Reserve Easement.

He said the project would include larger than recommended setbacks.

"In the most critical area, we have removed the houses entirely from the south side of the roadway, and just put houses on the north side. So that again, we have more than exceeded the recommendations of the geotechnical firm in that particular area."

Martin also spoke of an area on the hill that is currently slumping. He said it could be mitigated with French drains (weeping tile) and foundation drains on new construction and by changing the way water flow currently happens. to reduce the pressure of water which currently goes to the south, toward the creek. "These measures will ensure that all new houses built will be safe from any adverse affects from slope instability." Excess water which would be directed to the drainage pond to the north of UFA.

Petition

Council received a petition with 132 signatures from "electors of the Town of Pincher Creek, residing in/near the Hill Crest Meadows Development area". According to resident Donna Dowling more would have signed it had there not been time constraints related to the public hearing date.  The petition asked of council the following:
  • Clarify the objectives of the Town of Pincher Creek as this development matter has history and questionable Conflict of Interest. Demonstrate how this proposed development is reflective of the lntermunicipal Agreement with the MD of Pincher Creek on any future area development plans affecting lands near streams, creeks, water ways, et al.
  • Provide us with a copy of the Town's current Community Housing Strategic Plan that includes Hillcrest Meadows Area Development
  • Provide us with all of the Town's·Housinq Committee reports and meeting minutes.
  • Provide us with proof that the present Town's water, storm water and sewage systems can handle the additional consumption and flow of increased residents in that area.
  • Provide us with all Meeting Minutes of any information /decisions pertaining to this development.
  • Town and landowner complete and thorough environmental (eg. Biodiversity) assessment and impact done by a professional like Alberta Environment
  • To have an independent professional evaluation on the land which will include an Atterberg Limit tests on areas of the slopes and land area.
  • Have seasonal groundwater flowcharts done.
  • Provide us correct and clear data with tests conducted during different seasons and weather conditions for a period of 1 year.
  • Proof of who will maintain the proposed 'dry pond' and the Trash Rack on the unstable land of sand and reactive and desiccated clay in the proposed Hill Crest Meadows development area.
  • Accept all our signatures as proof that we are concerned taxpaying residents of the Town of Pincher Creek who are affected by the Hill Crest Area Development Plan on future development of this land.
Comments


 "We have to realize this economy will not have the jobs come up that it used to in previous decades." - area resident Bud West

From the correspondence submitted to council: "These comments/opinions have been collected and written without prejudice. They are the sole opinion and comments of those taxpayers /residents who shared their thoughts anonymously during the collection of signatures about the proposed Hill Crest Meadows Development Plan. We have their permission to share without revealing their names or addresses, their comments and opinions."

They state that the fact they have signed the Petition demonstrates their concerns.

“Town Council and Administration do whatever they want without validating and hearing community concerns like the low income property development plan on the other side of Livingston in North Hill.”

“Pincher Creek Taxes are too high and do not reflect adequate community services to meet the needs of Pincher Creek taxpayer’s needs.” “So why add more housing if they can’t meet the needs of the people now?”

“Every time an election is near Council and Town just start to do things for the community.”

“If I knew that there were limited services and lies coming from the Town , we as a family never would have moved here to Pincher Creek. “

“Town Council continually sneaks in their own decisions on community matters.”

“Town Council make secret decisions before anyone can know in Town and then present information after all the documents are carried as a Bylaw or legal.”

“There is no transparency from the Town Council and Administration.

Why are there so many different tax bases within the Town of Pincher without a reason why?”

“Why are our taxes in our Country Residential between $5,500-7,500 annually?”

“This proposed Hill Crest Development plan has been an ongoing issue. 10 years ago, the issues and concerns then are still the issues and concerns of today - so why is Town now pushing it through?”

“This is a huge Conflict of Interest as Mr. Thornton is a counsellor of the Town who is now after 10 years, trying to push this development through. He gets a lot of money when he sells this land, even if it is dangerous for any homes.”

“I moved here to Pincher Creek to get away from corruption and have a safe place for my children. Now, after the last 2 years of what I have experienced in this Town from administration and council? I am seriously thinking of moving.”

“Why is the Town Council promoting this Hill Crest development when we already have Gero lots that are sitting empty and have the infrastructure already in place?”

“Why is Pincher Creek Town’s Mill Rate so high when we have minimal services to meet our needs."

“The Hill Crest Development meeting at the Ramada was a Gong show.”

“Can the Town’s services handle an additional 148 proposed homes - 78 in Hill Crest and 70 for low income?”

“The Town doesn’t listen to the needs of the people, only what they have on their own agendas.”

“The CAO is just as involved as the Town Counsellors and Mayor in pushing this proposed (yet again) Hill Crest Development. Why do we need to continually defend ourselves from our own municipal representatives?”

“This problem with underground streams, basement flooding and inadequate placements of storm sewage manholes has never been addressed and I have lived here for over 15 years. Many of us tried to have our concerns heard but we were shut down. With this development, what will happen to our concerns?”
“What are my taxes really paying for? Where are the social services? Economic development? There are no plans shared with anyone.”

“I have no trust with Council or Administration.”

“When I went to discuss my tax base with Administration staff, I was shut down and thrown out of the building.”

"Where is Economic development? Our Town is fading away and admin and their staff get bigger pay checks?"

"The Council and their administration plus staff have no skills on what they are doing. They keep secrets and we only find out about projects after they have been approved. Just like the low income development plan when only 2 people from the Town approved the plan when there were about 33 people there at the meeting to oppose it due to underground water issues affecting all of us."
“Our tax base is so high, yet we are independent from the Town with water, sewage, street lights, sidewalks etc….Does the Town have a scale on how they determine taxes? If they do, do they understand them?”

“Administration and their staff in this Town are not helpful. They say one thing and do another.”

“Creekside Condos have had to continuously fight with the Town as the Hill’s slope keeps sliding down onto our area. “

“Is Gero and Thornton in this development together?"

"With all of the sump pumps draining water out on to their lawns or street, what happens when the power goes out for a long time? I have had flooding in my basement. That costs me money to clean up. The Town said it wasn’t their problem."

"Who’s going to pay for all of this? Tax payers? Where are the traffic studies, community engagement addressing our ongoing issues with water up here on the ‘Hill’? "

"The Town Council and admin make promises and then break them. Then we can’t do anything to change it because it’s already done."

“There’s not a lot of information on this whole development. That’s the Town’s plan….looks good on paper for province but we as citizens are not part of any of the decisions. Town lies to government.”

“Since I moved here 2 years ago, I have had nothing but water problems and have had to try and fix it myself as the Town says it’s my problem.

"So what’s going to happen if development starts with this Hill Crest development area… will We have more water problems?"

“Can the existing Town’s infrastructure handle this amount of new homes? Town hasn’t shown proof it can.”

"We need more economic initiatives and security before we start stripping more land and leaving it bare and dusty like Gero was allowed to do by the Town."
“When we as residents and taxpayers wrote a letter dated July 28th, 2017 and went to council to try and get a 30-60 day postponement for the public hearing and 26 of us went to the early morning hear the decision, it was flatly denied by the Mayor."
“He never really acknowledged us and our concern or need. We only wanted to postpone it as so many people are away due to summer holidays and the long weekend. What are they up to if they are pushing it forward without everyone knowing? They have done this before."
“What? We are doing this again about Thornton’s land? Why? I thought because of the instability of the land, slope, all the water problems up here on the hill he was looking into something else.”

"There isn’t a lot of information coming from the Town. On anything. I don’t think it was at the Town Hall meeting in March."

"I worked 14-16 years ago with Chinook Pipeline when North Hill infrastructure was being put in and prepared. It was nothing but a swamp, mud and water everywhere. Fill that had to be brought in was tremendous. Houses should have never have been built there."

“There is no economic reason to proceed with more housing in this town. There are so many empty lots already to be built on. These have been empty for years.”

“The Town is not expanding.”

“Why would the town consider building anymore houses as they can’t complete or fill the empty ones they have! I’ve not had good consistent work in this town or area for years. Why don’t they focus more on economic development?”

“Why should we even sign anything? If it would make any difference that would be one thing –but nothing ever changes, no matter what we say or do. When things get to this point and apathy takes over, nothing positive nor progressive can happen.”


Brian McGillivray

In a written correspondence to council Brian McGillivray asked for a sixty-day postponement of the August 14 public hearing, saying "We require additional time in which to prepare this presentation in order to ensure it is considered, informed, and broadly representative of the views of the residents of North Hill," adding that a postponement would "permit citizens who are on summer vacation or who will be on summer vacation to participate in this process."  At their August 2, 2017 Committee of the Whole meeting council decided to proceed with the August 14 hearing.

McGillivray also sent a letter to Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier and Foothills MP John Barlow, asking them to consider attending the hearing.  They did not attend.

Brian McGillivray

At the public hearing McGillivray showed a two-inch binder he said was collaboratively put together by various citizens outlining their concerns, including letters and information from 2008 council meetings regarding a similar development plan for the same area that was ultimately rejected by council. He said a copy of the binder had been presented to council before the deadline for information related to the hearing, and that it also included a request for four citizens to speak at the hearing. He was concerned that they were not on the list of people to speak at the hearing. Mayor Anderberg assured him everyone would have a chance to speak.

McGillivray said he had a number of concerns. "Here is the most relevant one to me. Why? Why is development even an consideration?" He said there are currently 68 empty service lots available in the North Hill area. "The town has an ample supply of building lots which are serviced and ready to accommodate the needs of of what will likely be the future housing needs for many, many years to come."

He also spoke of traffic issues and their potential impact on the community, environmental concerns, a number of water issues, and the plan to divert an underground stream. "Little was mentioned on ground water." He requested that the Town present their Strategic Housing Plan, which includes Hillcrest development.

"Finally, whether legal or not, there is a moral and ethical perception that a conflict of interest exists with Councillor Thornton, as the developer of this new subdivision." It was later explained to all present that Councilor Thornton recused himself from all council meetings which had to do with the North Hill development.

Donna Downing

Crocus Street resident Donna Downing wrote "My concerns are with respect to the actual plan itself, but perhaps, even more importantly, the process regarding this, as it pertains to governance,transparency,and accountability to the citizens of this town."

Donna Downing

From her letter to the Town:
  1. I do not regard what went on at the Ramada on July26th an information session at all. There was no formal presentation, merely a series of diagrams put forth by the independent engineering firm, promoting their own plans and agenda. They could not answer my questions regarding drainage problems, nor what was intended for the proposed housing in the area. It was noticeable that there was no person from the town available to answer these questions either. This so-called information session was totally a wasted exercise.
  2. There is apparently no record to be found at the Town office of recorded meetings with respect to the similar land use proposal put forth ten years ago. This is of major concern because this is not the first time this has been presented. There was a significant representation of citizens who came forward at that time presenting their concerns. I would like to refer to those specific written records, as they pertain to what is being put forward now, to assess similarities and differences in these plans, as well as the reasons why the land use proposal did not proceed ten years ago. At this point, the fact that records are unavailable speaks to major problems within the Town administration. This should be a matter on the public record. Why is it not there?
  3. Why did the mayor and the majority of the council not see fit to agree to a reasonable postponement of the public hearing? This would allow for further citizen engagement, and time for proper perusal of this land use proposal, which is very broad in scope and far-reaching in its potential effect upon the town. The decision to proceed with the August 14th public hearing suggests to me at minimum, an alarming disregard for adequate public engagement in what should be a democratic and transparent process of decision-making. There was a clear tone presented of pushing this issue forward at any cost, no matter to the opinions and requests put forward by tax-paying citizens, to whom the mayor and council are directly accountable to. This decision was made at the town council meeting on August 2nd, 2017. There were 26 people attending this meeting,specifically concerned about proceedings with respect to this land use proposal.
  4. We have either the highest or second highest tax rate in the province. How much additional tax burden would be placed on citizens of the town with this proposed development plan being approved. Total infrastructure would need to be put in place, and at what cost.? We already have areas with infrastructure in place ready for development. Why are we not considering these areas, if further housing is deemed advisable for the town?
  5. At present, there is one entrance only into the northern area of town. This is inadequate now, Jet alone considering adding further residential units.
  6. There is a major drainage problem existing on Crocus St. This has not been addressed, and no information has been provided as to rectifying this problem. Why would you propose further development at the far end of Crocus St when this will only exacerbate an already unmanaged and unacceptable situation?
  7. The land in question being proposed for this development is presently being used as agricultural land. Would new zoning not have to be approved for this development., and what, specifically, is involved in this process? I am wanting information regarding process and subsequent costs involved. In other words, why would we logically consider new housing on land that is presently agricultural, when we already have town land that could potentially be used for similar purposes?
Downing also spoke at the public hearing, reiterating her concerns.

Geoffrey Wright

Former resident Geoffrey Wright spoke on behalf of his mother, current resident and senior citizen Monica Wright, requesting clarity on consultation procedures/protocols and the community notification process.

"Does this proposal follow Provincial Policy standards?"

He said he was concerned over the lack of a proper conflict of interest statement (regarding councillor Thornton) and the Town's procedural bylaws. He also expressed concern about the change to the use of agricultural land, and whether or not studies have been done for historical uses, geographical groundwater, endangered or species at risk wildlife habitats or wildlife corridors, and light pollution considerations. and whether there was any consultation with Municipal Affairs and Housing, indigenous people, and the MD of Pincher Creek.

"Proper planning policy puts those items in place, and in front of the people, so that they can see it, beforehand."

Edwin Knox

Resident Edwin Knox said he walked his dogs in the area. He is concerned about the loss of native grasslands and other plant life, and the slumping of the hill.

Jeanette Davis


Jeanette Davis said she is concerned over future sales of homes in the area if the market is flooded. "If we are saddled with a home in our community, we are so much more limited in terms of what we can accomplish in this world, and as Canadians."

Dianne Gray

Dianne Gray

Resident Dianne Gray spoke at the hearing and also argued with Mayor Anderberg about proper procedure and other issues. "As it stands, I have a major concern for pecuniary interests, for Councillor Doug Thornton. Not only does he sit on the housing committee, but he is also a shareholder and director for Beverly Holdings, and for Thornton and Sons." She said according to section 170 of the Municipal Governance Act there were pecuniary concerns. The entire collected group of councillors and Mayor each individually stated they did not discuss the development with Councillor Thornton, and he did excuse himself from the parts of meetings which discussed this development.

Lyle Regehr

Huckleberry Court resident Lyle Regehr wrote " I have the following concern and request that the development of a road from Foxborough Lane toward Crocus Street not be developed."

"The area in which I live is zoned "Country Residential" and is a low-density zone. Road access is adequate for this zone and the existing residences that live here. The road that services this area is basically a small lane road in which two vehicles can pass with no shoulder or extra room. As you know this 'Country Residential' zone has no streetlights or sidewalks so all children and pedestrians share the road for walking and driving. Children and adults use it for enjoyment such as riding bike, skateboarding, roller blading and even snow activities in winter.

"When both pedestrians and vehicles pass, they move over, slow down,  people stop walking or move significantly  to allow for  passage. This is acceptable as there is no sidewalk, no shoulder and the only traffic  is typically  local people. Those that walk at night take extra precaution  to be visible or to make sure they  give full allowance for vehicles to pass without interruption.  This is all acceptable  since this is a special zone called "Country  Residential".

"We enjoy and expect this special zone to stay this way since there is no other like it anywhere in Pincher Creek. We enjoy a lot of the style of country living which is quiet, low traffic, low density living where each residence enjoys the wide-open area of low density living. The road does not have enough room to park so each residence has enough space to provide parking when they entertain larger groups.

"Winter adds another level of difficulty as we often plow our own street. We know the town has other higher traffic areas that need to be plowed first so often we get by or we get help to plow our street. That means we often just get one lane and we can barely pass a nether vehicle. Even when the town plows during heavy snowfall they get one lane open so we can get through. Pedestrian traffic is significantly reduced and we take extra precautions. We would expect this to be a significant risk with increased traffic.

"All of this would be changed by joining Foxborough lane to "Residential" zoning. I would expect that by joining this street and increasing traffic would possibly require the town to improve this street by widening, adding shoulders, adding sidewalks, and streetlights, which would significantly change our street. In fact it may push the town to rezone our area into 'Residential' which would be totally unacceptable. 'Country residentlal' enjoys low light pollution since we do not have street lights. We do not want street lights and it would be totally unacceptable if increased traffic would bring street lights to keep accident risk down.

"Since the new connection would be up a steep grade there will be a lot of vehicles getting stuck or sliding down since we have Huckleberry Court road which would is an even lower grade and it has this potential problem every winter for those that live on it.

"There would be no doubt that there would be significantly increase traffic on Foxborough Lane which in itself increases risk, let alone that the street is not adequate for existing resldences to enjoy together with increased traffic. Noise levels would increase which also significantly reduces enjoyment of this unique and pleasant subdivision.

"To add this connector road really changes our "Country Residential" community and we would no longer be like we are living in the country on a country lane. Since we live in a naturally restricted area between a creek and a hillside we would see a degrade in value with a change in access. Keeping this area as it is is almost like a gated community."

"I firmly oppose the development of a connecting road to the proposed new development. I don't have any opposition to the new development adjacent our 'Country Residential' zone as long as there is a hill between and no connecting road."

Gary and Gloria Franks

Residents Gary and Gloria Franks outlined their concerns in a letter to council, as follows:
  1. A decrease in the property value for existing homes
  2. Increased traffic on both Crocus and Tumbleweed roads
  3. Water runoff is exasperated not improved. A high water table and runoff is not an problem for us at this time but with the disturbance of the land around our home it certainly could become one. We know it is a concern for other residences on Crocus St.
  4. The unknowns coming at us and our ability to modify or change those plans in the future. This includes the location and type of the multi-family structure beside the Wright property.
  5. Lack of supporting reviews, assessments to justify building a new subdivision while numerous lots remain undeveloped on the north hill.
  6. The lack of plans for future economic growth. There doesn't appear to be one so who will purchase the lots?
  7. Question that this development plan addresses housing issues identified in the 2016 housing assessment. In my opinion the assessment did not ask questions relevant to the current housing issues in Pincher.
  8. Council said the plan could take 25 plus years to be completed. Will we be looking at a neglected construction zone during that time or will it become like Mountain View Estates? Exposed top soil will result in summer dust storms and winter drifting.
"Perhaps this will inspire them to add Crocus St. to the town snow removal plan as it doesn't appear to be on it now."

John Baker

Resident John Baker wrote:
I would like to submit my disapproval of this development. This is not the first time that the owner of this land has tried to seek out approval for development.

Some issues that need to be considered before any decision can be made:

  1. There is only one access road into this area and there seems to be more and more building going on. If there were an incident where the road was blocked, people would not be able to access the area. This means no fire, ems, ambulance etc would be able to enter the area.
  2. There is mention of extending Crocus St off to the south and west so further development could happen on the south side of Crocus St. The land in this area is very unstable and has been sluffing off for years. I find it absolutely ridiculous that the Town would even consider allowing construction on this land. There are all kinds of underground streams in this area and you can see where the land is moving to the south. This is exacerbated when we get heavy rains. Can you imagine the lawsuits that would ensue if the land or lord help, a house were to end up in the back yard of one of the properties below.
  3. There has been mention of affordable housing being built at the end of the present Crocus St. You have an area with higher end homes and the Town may consider allowing lower cost homes to be built near them.
  4. If Crocus St is allowed to be extended to the south and west there will be an issue with storm drainage. The Town has installed some storm drains where Crocus meets Tumbleweed but these have already proved to be useless. The curbs on the west side of Crocus have sunk in spots so water pools rather than drain to the storm drains. As a result of this, several driveways have been ruined because water has gone underneath and heaved the concrete. This is especially true in the winter because snow is not properly cleared if it is cleared at all, blocks the drains and we have little lakes in front of some homes. Come and look at my driveway, the Town is responsible for the damage. Several homes on my street have sump pits where the pumps run 24/7 because of the underground streams. Any extra water drainage on the street could spell disaster for these homes.
  5. There is mention of installing a drainage pond in the green space behind Crocus St. This land has been designated for development into a recreation area such as a ball diamond or park. By putting a pond in will ruin that area and who is going to monitor that area when water is present. There are many children who reside in the area and building a fence just won't cut it, not to mention the unattractive appearance.
  6. With the extension of Crocus St there will be development on the south side going toward Fox borough. There again this land is unstable and you will end up with issues I have already stated along with the same issues the south hill has had for years. One example is that people with lots edging on the bluff side are not able to water their lawns because of the potential of land moving.
"These are some of the main issues that come to mind as you can be sure that there are more related to this. Perhaps the Town should consider acquiring the land along the creek and turn it into park space. This would put an end to this ridiculous development. The owner of the land has tried several times in the past to push through development and the same issues come up. This is very stressful to say the least and I for myself am tired of dealing with it.

"There are a multitude of lots available with infrastructure in place on the west side of the subdivision with more land available to the west. Perhaps development in this area should be completed before any further consider made for the land in question.

"I can appreciate the Thorntons wanting to develop their land but there is a right and wrong way to go about it."

"I welcome any dialogue you may have to discuss over this matter."

Dennis Zalasky and Chantal Laliberte

Chantal Laliberte wrote to council on behalf of herself and her husband Dennis Zalasky. They are residents of Tumbleweed Avenue.

"We question the need for further housing development. The Population of Pincher Creek has remained the same at around 3600 residents for decades. To our knowledge, no new industries are going to be established in this area, so no increase of population is expected. On the contrary, the main employer in this area, Shell, is reducing its workforce and the plant will be closing down in the near future. The present number of residences seem adequate for the demand. There are presently over 1,500 dwelling units in this city. There are presently 40 residences for sale in Pincher Creek (according to realtor.ca). This number does not include houses for sale by owner. There are presently 122 residences established on the Northhill. GERO is hoping to sell and build residences on its 68 undeveloped vacant lots. In addition, the development of another 70 low income residences have been approved by your administration. This translate into 260 residences on the Northill. Is there really a need for another housing development of 77 houses?"

"The only exit presently on the North hill is on Tumbleweed Avenue. We are already experiencing high volume of traffic. It will only get worse with additional residences and subdivisions."

"Can you assure us that the establishment of a housing subdivision in the proposed area will not contaminate the ground water?"

"Has a proper assessment of the land been done? Is it really safe to build there?"

"Where is the drainage for this development going to go?"

"These are a few of our concerns. We do appreciate that residents were invited to an "information session" but its format failed to really inform us. An actual presentation would have been better."

Francine Sorge

Foxborough Lane resident Francine Sorge wrote "based on the information regarding  this  proposal I   respectfully request that this proposal not be approved while there is reference to a road connecting Foxborough Lane and Crocus Street.

"If Foxborough Lane and Crocus Street were connected, there will be a substantial  increase in traffic coming through Foxborough Lane.  This  is a huge safety concern. Foxborough Lane was not developed for high traffic volume - it is narrower than  the regular roads existing in town with steep ditches, no curbs or sidewalks, no streetlights.  It was approved by the Town Council at the time for use as originally presented; as an access road for local traffic in a country residential setting, not a connector route for a large subdivision.

"Our subdivision is  unique to Pincher  Creek and the devaluation of my property is very concerning if this development  is approved as presented, as the largest appeal of living in this area is quiet tranquility  of country living with little  traffic due to the one-way access.

"The possibility of increased taxation rates is also a serious concern if this  development proposal results in  infrastructure or other costs becoming the Town's responsibility.    Developing an access road for this proposal through our subdivision  would be very costly when compared to a more direct access to Hwy 507 for the North Hill and Hillcrest Meadows area.

I  would also ask that the Town not approve the developers' requests to waive the minimum  30-meter setback from the top of the slope  in  the interest  of future liability that the Town may assume with this proposal.

Allen Wocknitz and Evelyn (Lynn) Wocknitz

Foxborough Lane residents Allen Wocknitz and Evelyn Wocknitz wrote that they "respectfully request that the development of a road from Foxborough Lane looping toward Crocus Street, not be developed."

"There is no doubt, that if the road from Foxborough Lane looping toward Crocus Street is developed that there would be a large increase in traffic coming through Foxborough Lane. Residents from the 74 lots plus those already existing on the North hill would use this as a shortcut road to access the west side of town as well as a shortcut to go west on Highway 507. There would be even more traffic coming through during special events occurring at the community hall and/or the agricultural grounds.

 Eastbound motorists from Highway 507 would also use shortcuts through Foxborough Lane to select locations on the North Hill. Increased traffic on Foxborough Lane raises these
issues:

  • We are very concerned about the devaluation of our property due to the fact that the largest appeal of living in this sub-division is quiet tranquility of country living. We chose our location knowing that there was very little traffic in our area and that having the "remote" access that is currently here meant that we had a greater distance to travel to get to most locations in Pincher Creek.
  • Foxborough Lane was not developed for high traffic volume. The lot layouts give the perception that a road could simply be connected to existing roads within the town, but Foxborough lane is narrower than the regular roads existing in town. On the rare occasion that traffic is moving In opposite directions, there is enough room, but not really any extra. One has to be very careful if somebody is walking along the roadside or if there are neighbourhood children on bicycles or otherwise moving or playing near the road.
  • Increased traffic would be a huge safety concern. When there is an accumulation of snow, it is even more difficult for two way traffic to move safely because it is not easy to see where the edge of the road so there is more likelihood for error.

"Furthermore, we do not believe that it is necessary to develop this road because the proposal for the first development Hillcrest Meadows is made without that access.lf that is sufficient for the initial development, there should be no reason to add access to the west. We also believe that the appeal of private and quiet country living would be of more value to residents of "Area B' --should it be developed."

"We are not opposed to having walking access connecting these areas and would understand that if there should be an unusual emergency requiring one way traffic for evacuation, there may be an unusual circumstance requiring traffic to move over the hill."


Don and Linda McRae

Area resident Don and Linda McRae wrote "Our issues with proposed subdivision are.

  • There is so much undeveloped land in the Mountain View Area, why would the town invest tax payer money to make more. The town can't maintain the green space it has already. Has the town done a study to see what other areas are available for housing.
  • Why would they even suggest a retention pond, we have one behind Briar Rd & HWY 507 that is a total eyesore.
  • Has a soil study been performed and are there any risks of more of the bank sloughing.
  • What is the timeline and what is actually going to be built.

Glen Hoffman


Resident Glen Hoffman had a number of concerns including underground spring water, soil sloughing from the hill, and dirt from undeveloped sites affecting the neighbourhood. He said he had concerns over who to turn to in the event of damages in the future. He said the timeline of developing between 10 and 20 units per year was a concern, as was the projected development was for 77 units, when population growth in the area between 2001 to 2011 was 1% or 19 people, over ten years. "Why? Why do we need it now, when it's not needed for demand?"

Glen Hoffman
Hoffman wrote the following to council:

It has been recently brought to my attention of a new development in our area and I'd like to take a
chance to address a couple of concerns.

Firstly, we found out about this development from a neighbor. Although it is not adjacent to our home, using our street {Crocus Street) for the main access to the new subdivision is something I would have thought the town would have let all the residents in the area know. This increase in traffic  will create new dust, noise, and mud on the roads. Is there a plan in place to mitigate this? The increase of heavy equipment may also result in damages to Crocus Street and Tumbleweed Avenue. Is this risk being included in the Contract Documents so that the Developer and/or the Contractor bear the burden of this and not the tax payers?
In this area of town, there are several underground springs. This is noted by talking to neighbors and finding some sump pumps do not cycle any where near as much as others. In this area, there is also a property with an underground Artesian well. Has a study been done to address the water table and potential issues with underground springs in the area?

I see the development plan is staged in up to 6 phases. Does this mean that the existing soil will be left undisturbed or will it all be ripped up? If it is ripped up, this will create a huge dirt issue on the lawns of those residents east of where it is excavated. This could be seen by the last development that  is ongoing on the west end of the north hill where several residents had lawns ruined by the dirt being blown in to their yards.

The plan also notes they "estimate that there are between 10 and 20 dwelling units constructed per year".  Currently the a large portion of west subdivision of the North Hill remains undeveloped. There have been a few new houses in that area and some on the South Hill, but from what I've seen no where near 10 to 20 per year. Unless the Whispering Winds development was factored in.

The study also outlines this is due to increasing populations, with a net population increase of 234 people to the town. From 2001to2011, the population increased by 19 people, which is a 1.7% increase. Is this going to be an underdeveloped area in town that may have had big plans and will not materialize?

Discussing with neighbors, one common question always comes up "What brings people to Pincher Creek? What is the driving force to have people move here?" "Marketing of the Town as the centre of outdoor recreational activity for the region should also increase the housing demand for people from Calgary." Really? That is the plan for the town? Did we advertise Pincher Creek for the recent Sinister 7 which drew hundreds to the area? The Stardust Hotel was the only one mentioned. They had over 1,600 participants, 1,000 spectators, 2,500 likes on their Facebook Page, and 230 were following it. A mention on their website might have helped our "tourism plan". Also, which tourism industry employees can afford the $300,000 +house prices, plus the annual taxes which are in excess of $3,000 in this area?

I see there was a study done on the soil sloughing issue that exists in the hill area. Hopefully the town maintains the set back bylaw in place so that any future residents In the area won't be missing their backyard one morning, or the roads and infrastructure suffer. Should there be damages in the future as a result of this sloughing who will be held liable? The town, as they issued the development approvals and permits? Edmonton had an issue where several houses slid down the hill and the city was held accountable. I assume a study on the hill was done prior to the trail installation on the west side of Hewetson Avenue, but the condition of the trail itself and the evidence the hill is still sliding makes me wonder how thorough it was.

On Crocus Street, the turnaround at the south end makes snow removal easier with a place to put it. Have the additional streets been factored in for snow removal, as we can get significant amounts of snow? What about the melting in the spring?

In the plan, there is a provision to tie in the sump pumps to the storm drain system. Currently this drain flows through a system of underground piping to an interconnecting system of ditches adjacent to Highway 507, which then free flows to the NW corner of the UFA. Has the additional water intake to the storm drains been calculated in, as currently with a large storm you could almost white water raft past Wal Mart.

During the last election, I was asked what I'd like to see in our neighborhood. I mentioned that ripping up the weeds in the green space along the east side of Crocus Street and designing a sidewalk plan to connect the sidewalk on the east side of Crocus Street with Vista Villa sidewalk would be a good plan. It could include sod and future development of shrubs and trees. As there is significant usage of the area, as seen by the "grass" that is worn down to the dirt, it would be used by many. It would also give a better access to the Vista Village and Coop to residents in the area, and to those looking to go for a walk. The town has only recently started mowing this area.

Will the sidewalk on the east side of Crocus Street be extended into the new neighborhood? Will there be a new sidewalk added to the west side of Crocus Street to tie into the new area? Will the new area sidewalks tie into the lower subdivision east of the Water Treatment Plant? Before the area was fenced off, our son could walk to his friend's house in about 5~10 minutes. Since it has been fenced it takes him about half an hour to make the same trip.

On the topic of the fence, last year when the area was fenced an area resident went to discuss this with the town office. The town was unaware of any new fencing going on in the area. At one point, it was rumored the fence would be extended across the "turnaround loop" at the south end of Crocus Street. We discussed this amongst some neighbors and questions arose on snow removal access, garbage truck access and how we, as residents on the street, would be unable to turn a trailer around without that access. Fortunately, it had not been fenced, so that never went any further.

If the town still sees a need to develop a new subdivision, there a couple of alternate locations which I think should be considered. Firstly, would be the piece of land to the east of the hospital. The infrastructure is a lot closer with less roads to construct and the land is more stable. Another option could be south of Broadview Street. This land is more stable and again roads and services are closer.

Owners, Creekside Village Condominium Corporation

From a letter to council by the Creekside Village Condominium owners:

The residents of the Creekside Condominium Corporation wish to oppose the passing of Bylaw 1621-17·, Hillcrest Meadows Area Structure Plan.  This bylaw should not be passed until the concerns of the residents of Pincher Creek, who elected you and who to represent, are met.

Water Drainage and Hillside Sloughing. It was mentioned that the water issue regarding the hill sloughing had been addressed and that it would make the situation better. What water issue was being addressed... surface water or underground water?

There is an underground stream running through the hillside and additional houses means additional watering of lawns which will result in more severe sloughing: It is already a very serious situation and a year of heavy rain could result in more hillside slippage. Add to that, the additional watering of lawns, and it is our fear that the hillside will come down.

What is being proposed in this Plan to address and correct this problem? If the worst happens and the hillside does slide, who is responsible? The Company that developed this Plan or the Town for approving it?

We sincerely hope that you will seriously consider and address our concerns and those of others regarding access, property values, and increased traffic. You were elected to represent the citizens of Pincher Creek. If you pass this bylaw without addressing these concerns to the satisfaction of your electors, who are you representing, us or the Developer?

Gerald and Reona Erickson

Area residents Gerald and Reona Erickson wrote:

We received your correspondence in regardto the above-mentioned subdivision. We would like to address a few of our concerns.

We understand that the land belongs to Town Councillor Doug Thornton. After reading the Area Structure Plan it came to our attention that this was brought to Council on or around July 2016, while the geotechnical report was completed in 2013. Our concern is that this is now a conflict of interest. We have taken the time to read the minutes from the Town Council meeting on June 26, 2017 where the bylaw was proposed. We found no evidence that Mr. Thornton removed himself from the meeting or that he abstained from voting on any question relating to the matter which should be in accordance with the MGA section 172 (1) disclosure of pecuniary interest.

While we would be in favor of the development going through and believe it is good for economic growth, we do find it concerning that a current council member would be able to put forward an agenda that would benefit himself, or his family. This sets a bad precedent for the Town as well as for future council members that may wish to do the same thing.

Several households in our area did not receive correspondence about the development, and very few people get the Echo or check the Town website weekly in regards to Public Notices. We sincerely hope that ALL people that could be affected or have concerns have been contacted by mail so they would have a chance to attend the Open House or the Public Hearing so they can express their concerns.

Clarify the objectives of the Town of Pincher Creek as this development matter has history and questionable Conflict of Interest. Demonstrate how this proposed development is reflective of the Intermunicipal Agreement with the MD of Pincher Creek on any future area development plans affecting lands near streams, creeks, water ways et al.

Mayor/Council/Administration/Decision


Mayor Anderberg asked the councillors present to speak to concerns that councillor Thornton Councillor Thornton might not be properly recusing himself from the issue. Each member did so, including councillor Lorne Jackson who said "I have never, ever talked to Doug about anything regarding any type of land development of his interest, and to attack members of council, as some of those letters have, I take great umbrage with that. I feel as though you are attacking my character as well as the character of the rest of council, and administration."

While we haven't been to every public Town Council meeting over the last six years, we have been to most of them, and quite a few Committee of the Whole meetings.  Both Toni Lucas and I (Chris Davis) have never seen councillor Thornton not recuse himself from discussions regarding this property.

Mayor Don Anderberg cautioned the crowd that "Really, council isn't responsible for this development. Council has a requirement to address development proposals put forward by proponents or developers that's what we're doing with this."

"It's a responsibility of council to work through this process, and make a decision."

"Once you get into a situation where you are kind of at loggerheads, in a development situation, and I stand to be corrected, this whole development plan that the Province has, that we follow that we've got in the Town here, can be bypassed by either partner. So the proponent or the developer could possibly go to Court of Queen's Bench to get a ruling on this. The people in the gallery can do exactly the same thing. Now, what happens with that situation from my understanding, and some experience, is when that happens then this whole conversation we're having here isn't our conversation anymore. Somebody else, outside the community is going to make a decision, and we won't have the wherewithal to actually do anything about any of this."

Council agreed to amendments to the bylaw, first that the developer amend the plan to remove any reference to the multi-family sites from the area structure plan (opposed by councillor Litkowski, and that any reference to Environmental Reserve be changed to Environmental Reserve Easement, and to remove any reference to the proposed road  called Foxborough Lane.

Mayor Anderberg called for a recorded vote of thesecond reading of the proposed bylaw. The bylaw was defeated, with Anderberg voting in favour of it and the rest of council in attendance voting against it.

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