Thursday, 18 January 2018 06:08

Open house provides information about new northwest neighbourhood in Swift Current

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Mike Kesslar (at right), a RBC mortgage specialist in Swift Current, visited the open house for the proposed Heights neighbourhood, Jan. 11. He is speaking to Associated Engineering representatives, from left, Kenneth Weddige and Mike Pawluski. Mike Kesslar (at right), a RBC mortgage specialist in Swift Current, visited the open house for the proposed Heights neighbourhood, Jan. 11. He is speaking to Associated Engineering representatives, from left, Kenneth Weddige and Mike Pawluski.

Members of the public had an opportunity to provide comments on the concept plan for a future residential neighbourhood in the northwest area of Swift Current.

A come-and-go open house for the Heights neighbourhood took place at the Swift Current Mall, Jan. 11. Representatives from Associated Engineering and the City of Swift Current were present to answer questions from the public about the proposed development.
Mike Pawluski, a project planner with Associated Engineering, said there was a good response during the afternoon from people who visited the open house to look at the information presented on various display boards.
“There’s some interest in the area, actually a fair bit of interest I would say, based off the conversations I’ve had,” he mentioned. “People are asking when this is going to start. Some people it sounds are pretty eager to move into this location. It sounds like it’s a hot spot for the city.”
There were questions from people about the trail system and the natural valley area, which will be a prominent natural feature of the neighbourhood. There were questions about the interface and street connections between the new development and the existing Highland and Trail neighbourhoods, and the type of lots that will be available.
The concept plan covers a total area of 64.62 hectares, of which 36.21 hectares are available for development. The natural valley area on the south side of the neighbourhood covers an area of 28.41 hectares, which will be protected. There will be a series of pathways and a trail system to allow people to explore this natural area. The neighbourhood will also include 2.11 hectares for park and open space.
“The reason why a larger scale neighbourhood park wasn’t provided in this space is there’s an existing one in Highland and Trail neighbourhood,” he noted. “There’s a larger park there that has a football field, soccer pitches and all of that.”
The Heights will provide approximately 600 new dwelling units in the city. The largest portion of the developed area (21 hectares) will be for low density residential purposes, while 1.87 hectares will be for medium density residential development and 3.12 hectares in the concept plan have been allocated to two swing sites.
“The majority of the site will be for low density, so you’re looking at single-family homes, maybe some semi-detached housing” he said. “Then a couple of parcels for some medium density and the two swing sites will open it up for higher density or commercial.”
The swing sites will provide flexibility for the developer to meet market demand at the time when the area is developed.
“It could either be commercial or residential, depending on what the market will bear,” he said. “If there is a market for commercial, then it might go to commercial. If the market is for more residential, then it would most likely get converted to residential. So it would all depend on the market conditions.”
The low density land use of the new development will fit in with the adjacent residential areas, because the Highland and Trail neighbourhoods are largely single-family housing lots.
The development of a new neighbourhood with up to 600 new homes will result in an increase in traffic in the area, but the roads in the Heights have been designed to reduce “short cutting” through the area and adjacent neighbourhoods, and to direct traffic movements to designated collector roads such as Highland Drive and Battleford Trail.
“Essentially the way the design has been laid out is people will be pushed to the collector roads, because they are designed to a higher standard and they can accommodate higher volumes of traffic,” he said. “So the big thing here is pushing them to Highland Drive and Battleford Trail to get to where they need to go, because those are roads that are defined as collectors and they lead to other collectors or arterial roads that will take people to employment centres such as the mall or the industrial areas.”
Associated Engineering prepared the concept plan for the proposed Heights neighbourhood on behalf of a private development group that owns this land.
“From the City’s point of view, we’re very excited to see another private developer that's interested in investing in the community,” said Michael Ruus, the City of Swift Current's general manager for planning and growth development. “We’ve seen two different private developers that want to take on projects in our community, and I think that really speaks to everything that we have to offer with our local economy being as strong as it has been.”
The City will be the reviewing authority for this development application and the Planning and Growth Development department will work with the applicant and the consultants to ensure that the requirements of the approval process are met before the plan is presented to council for approval.
“The major issues for the City are always the transportation network, making sure that its sufficient in moving vehicles efficiently through the area or around it, and making sure that obviously there’s no safety issues with that,” he said. “And then setting aside appropriate land so that there aren’t any environmental hazards, which they have clearly identified with their slope study and outlined it in their land use map, and then also setting aside adequate park space for those future residents to enjoy.”
The development of the Heights will take place in multiple phases, depending on population growth, market demand and the construction of municipal infrastructure. It is therefore anticipated that the full development of this area will only be achieved after 10 to 20 years.
“This initial phase is to get the land use plan approved by council and then the developer would be moving forward with more detailed engineering studies to get those finalized on how they want to proceed with servicing, whether they contract the City to provide that service or whether they find a contractor to do that themselves,” Ruus explained.
The development of the Heights neighbourhood will ensure that residential lots are available to provide in the future housing needs of the community.
“We expect this community to continue to grow and so we want to make sure we’re being proactive about that in ensuring that we have those properties available for purchase so that future residents are able to start building their dream home in Swift Current,” he said.

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Matthew Liebenberg


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