In response to my opposition to the proposed construction of additional 25-and 28-storey towers on the old Hole’s Greenhouses property, Botonica resident Valerie Spink suggested “it would be wise” of me “to think of my own style of living” before “blaming the residents of Botanica for St. Albert’s planned growth, poor traffic signalling and other hypothetical injustices”.
I’m not sure where in my piece I ever laid blame upon the residents of the development. I thought it was quite clear that my anger was directed at the developers and city council. I don’t know why Valerie assumes I am opposed to more walkable communities with a smaller footprint. That is a red herring.
My point was never about carbon footprints – even if I do prefer river views and trees to high rises. I am actually in favour of high-density urban development. My argument was, and remains, that such high density development being forced into an area that was never intended to be used in that way is unfair to those residents who currently live there. As a former resident of Oakmont, I am all too aware that the only feeder route out of the subdivision is via Bellerose Drive, which is already, as Valerie helpfully pointed out, “suffer(ing) from traffic congestion”. Where will this traffic divert to? The only other option available is through the residential areas of Erin Ridge, past homes and schools, along roads that were never intended to accommodate higher traffic volumes.
I absolutely agree with Valerie that the city should be looking at approving high-density development. However, I believe that it should be done from a long-term, planned perspective. When people decide to invest in a residence, they have the right to know what they are getting into regarding future development in the area.
I also believe that before approving new developments and rezoning areas, it is incumbent upon the city to ensure that the proper infrastructure is in place so that we don’t end up with big-city traffic woes. It is naive to suggest that dropping a massive high-density urban development in the midst of an already congested area will not have consequences, no matter the best intentions of residents nor the inherent walkability of the area. Perhaps I am not very environmentally conscious for choosing to live in a single family dwelling with a small backyard for my family, but that is my choice. The city is responsible for designing and approving living spaces that appeal to the entire community in a way that is appropriately planned out from the start.
Julie Kucher, St. Albert