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Thursday, 08 March 2018 06:18

Council approves concept plan for new northwest neighbourhood in Swift Current

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The process to develop a new residential neighbourhood in the northwest area of Swift Current took another step forward with the completion of the planning phase.

Councillors approved the concept plan for the proposed Heights neighbourhood at a regular council meeting, Feb. 26.
Michael Ruus, the City of Swift Current's general manager for planning and development, presented a report to the meeting and a representative from Associated Engineering made a presentation on the plan.
“That’s the final step in the planning phase of the project,” Ruus said afterwards about the approval of the concept plan. “From here on out it will move forward into the engineering approvals and then actual construction.”
The concept plan was prepared by Associated Engineering on behalf of CMR Corporation.
 The land is registered to Ryco Holdings Limited.
The plan provides information about site conditions and existing land use, and the design principles that will be used to develop the new neighbourhood.
“It would be fantastic to see our community continue to grow,” Ruus said. “This is the second private developer that has really come in, wanting to take on a large project of this size. So I know our team is very excited to see them move forward.”
Council approved a concept plan in August 2016 for a new neighbourhood in the city's northeast that will be developed by the TerraTrust group.
“I think that really speaks to the potential that some of these external organizations to our community really see in Swift Current,” he noted.
The proposed Heights neighbourhood will be located to the west of the existing Highland and Trail neighbourhoods.
The concept plan covers an area of 64.62 hectares, of which 36.21 hectares are considered to be developable. The remaining 28.41 hectares is a natural valley on the south side of the neighbourhood that will be protected.
“From my perspective, what makes this particular neighbourhood very unique in our community is the access to the natural area just south of the development area,” Ruus said. “That, in addition to the mix and range of housing and densities, I think will make it a really neat neighbourhood and unique in the sense of being able to potentially age in place in your own neighbourhood.”
This low density residential development will provide a range of housing options, including single detached homes with or without lanes, townhouses, and medium density apartments.
It will make it possible for future homeowners to progress to different size housing options in the same neighbourhood as their needs change over the years.
“There would hopefully be entry-level housing where there are back lanes and you would have a narrower frontage, and then you could potentially progress to a larger home at a later date, and then move into a higher density housing situation as you age and want to maybe downsize,” he said.
The distinction between housing units with back lanes and those without back lanes will provide options with regard to lot sizes and affordability within the same neighbourhood.
“The intent with this plan, or my understanding of it, is they’re trying to offer a range of housing types,” he said. “As the consultant mentioned, with the addition of some housing product that has access to back lane, what you’re able to do is essentially shrink your frontage and cut your infrastructure cost. So you’re able to offer more of an entry-level housing product, and that I think helps build on their objective of having a community where you truly can age in that neighbourhood and move from product to product.”
The concept plan for the Heights neighbourhood includes two swing sites, which will provide flexibility to the developer to respond to future market changes.
These sites can be developed as medium or high density residential areas or for commercial use.
“We always like to see a mix and a range of housing types and land uses, because it's consistent with our current development plan and it helps to create those interesting neighbourhoods that everyone wants to live in,” he said.
“Additionally, it helps us when we start looking at our transit network and infrastructure and some of these other factors that are planned to the overall objectives for our community.”
According to the concept plan the Heights neighbourhood will consist of 347 low density dwelling units, 75 medium density dwelling units, 158 high density dwelling units, and 53 swing site dwelling units. In total there will be 632 dwelling units that will accommodate about 1,500 residents.
The development of the new neighbourhood will take place in phases and it is expected to start in the southeast corner of the site as an extension along Highland Drive. Development will proceed in a northerly direction towards Battleford Trail and then extending westwards. Ruus noted that the progress of the development will be determined by the developer.
“Ultimately it’s not up to the City other than the approvals process,” he explained.
“It would be up to the developer to decide when they want to put those properties up for sale and obviously market demand is one of those factors that plays into that. I would anticipate a potential start date of 2020, but again that’s just speculation on our end.”

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Matthew Liebenberg