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Riverbank Landing won't improve walkability



The original version of this letter included an incorrect email address for Suzanne Bennett.

In the Dec. 25 article in the Gazette about the Riverbank Landing development, Mr. Dave Haut of Boudreau Communities keeps trying to persuade residents (and perhaps more so, city council) that this project is a good idea. When asked about residents’ opposition to the development, Mr. Haut said that he “believes residents will embrace it down the road when they see the benefits drawn from the development, including improved walkability and lifestyle quality, boutique retail at their doorstep and increased home values”.

Mr. Haut couldn’t be speaking about residents from outside the development because I don’t know how an 11-storey apartment and two 26-storey high-rises will improve my walkability. It certainly won’t improve my lifestyle quality while I’m in the shadow of tall buildings, listening to the noise from the construction and commercial traffic on my doorstep. And, to suggest that this project will increase home values – really? How many people do you know will pay more for a property that has a high-rise building overlooking their yard, never mind three high-rises plus commercial property? Or, perhaps Mr. Haut should ask some residents in Orchard Court about property value. They purchased property knowing that Oakmont’s area structure plan (ASP) had set the use of adjacent property in the development site as low density residential. Now they find out that the city instead might allow an 11-storey seniors’ apartment to be built a mere 98 feet from their house (not the property line). It’s concerning when the city makes drastic changes to land uses set out in their statutory documents because property is typically bought and sold on the basis of the land uses shown in these documents.

An article in the Dec. 21, 2019, issue of the Gazette reported that Landrex Inc. submitted a proposal to amend Erin Ridge North’s ASP and rezone a 5.18-hectare parcel from direct control mixed use (DCMU) to commercial. This change would eliminate the possibility of a “walkable” urban village, including 120 residential units, on St. Albert Trail near Coal Mine Road. It’s the same kind of description used for Riverbank Landing. However, according to the article, information in council’s agenda package indicated there has been “no market interest” to develop the site as mixed use. Shouldn’t we find out if the same is true for Riverbank Landing before making any unnecessary amendments to Oakmont’s ASP and the land use bylaw (LUB)?

The current Oakmont ASP states that 69.5 per cent of Oakmont’s 1,721 projected dwelling units are low density residential and 30.5 per cent are multi-family residential. The Municipal Development Plan indicates a minimum of 30 per cent medium and/or high density residential dwelling units in a neighborhood. Thus, it appears that Oakmont has already met the city’s goal. The proposed development is slated to add 466 dwelling units, which will significantly over-densify the area and cause a multitude of problems.

To the residents of St. Albert: the planning department is accepting comments about the development and Boudreau Communities’ application to amend Oakmont’s ASP and the LUB. Please send your comments and concerns to the city’s Planner assigned to the Riverbank Landing file: Suzanne Bennett at [email protected]

Jerry Husar, St. Albert