Friday, 21 December 2012 15:56

Open house highlights the future growth plans for Swift Current’s northeast corner

Written by  Matthew Liebenberg
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AECOM project manager Evan Hunchak (at centre, left) talks to Swift Current residents about the development plans for the northeast growth area during a public open house at the Swift Current Mall on Dec. 19. City of Swift Current staff and AECOM engineering consultants were on hand to answer questions and receive comments about the draft sector and land use plans for the North East Urban Expansion Area (NEUEA), which will be developed to accommodate future urban growth in Swift Current over the next 25 years. AECOM project manager Evan Hunchak (at centre, left) talks to Swift Current residents about the development plans for the northeast growth area during a public open house at the Swift Current Mall on Dec. 19. City of Swift Current staff and AECOM engineering consultants were on hand to answer questions and receive comments about the draft sector and land use plans for the North East Urban Expansion Area (NEUEA), which will be developed to accommodate future urban growth in Swift Current over the next 25 years.

Christmas shoppers at the Swift Current Mall got a glimpse into the future Dec. 19 as they were able to visit a come-and-go open house that highlighted the growth plans for the city’s northeast corner.


Staff from the City of Swift Current’s engineering department and AECOM engineering consultants were present to answer any questions and to receive people’s comments.
City of Swift Current Manager of Engineering Services Trevor Feicht said they were trying to take advantage of the number of people that were out shopping.
“This is about long-term growth in the community of Swift Current and covers a pretty big territory,” he noted. “So we thought if people were unaware about it or didn’t think they were interested, this is an opportunity when they’re still Christmas shopping. They might become interested and getting engaged a little bit in the plans.”
The City has been working with AECOM since 2011 to prepare a sector plan for the North East Urban Expansion Area (NEUEA). It is a 1,000 acres area that includes the Cypress Regional Hospital, Valley Ridge residential subdivision and Cypress House personal care  facility.
This growth area also includes the Ecole Centennial School and All Saints Catholic joint school site and the future integrated facility.
“This plan has already started to become reality,” Feicht said. “The schools are being constructed and residential construction has already started around the hospital. So that’s kind of the core of this plan and what this plan does is take from that and build further out.”
The plan is based on a projection of growth in the area over the next 25 to 30 years, but the pace of economic activity in Swift Current will influence the development of the NEUEA. It could therefore be anywhere between 20 and 50 years.
Regardless of when development will take place, the plan will serve as a blueprint with an indication of main land uses, roadways and location of infrastructure to guide developers.
“So when the developer comes in on a specific piece of land, whether it’s a quarter section or 10 acres, we have a document that we could say this is generally how you need to do this in order to make sure this is a well-planned community,” he said.
The plans on display at the open house identified a variety of land uses. Land adjacent to the Trans-Canada Highway will be zoned highway commercial while there is provision for commercial space within the neighbourhood.
The development will provide a variety of housing options, with areas zoned for single-family or multi-family residential, row housing, semi-detached or small lot single-family residential. Land is also allocated for a regional open space network.
The proposed transportation network for the area classifies the roads into major and minor arterial streets as well as collector and local residential streets. In addition there is provision for bicycle lanes.
Evan Hunchak, who is AECOM’s project manager for the development of the NEUEA sector plan, said there will be an activity node in the centre of the community to provide a focal point for higher density development such as apartments or town homes with a neighbourhood park.
“The layout of the plan itself is in a grid pattern with a lot of east-west orientation, which is good for solar orientation for houses,” he mentioned. “It’s good for walkability, so kids could get to school or to their friend's house without having to go down long cul-de-sacs or crescents.”
According to Feicht the current plan, as presented at the open house, can probably accommodate over 8,000 people in the community.
“Of course that will fluctuate depending on whether there are single storey or multi-storey dwellings in some of the multi-family zoning areas, but that would accommodate growth for a long time,” he said.
The NEUEA is one of three major growth areas within City boundaries for which the Engineering Department is currently undertaking a planning process.
The second one is the northwest area, which is located west and northwest of the Highland subdivision. During the past year almost all the remaining lots in the Highland residential subdivision have been sold.
The third growth area is the South Hill area, which is located south of Marston Street. The site for the Windfest kite festival and Riverview Village Estates are located within this area.
To prepare for future growth, the City is also in discussion with two landowners about potential urban development on land that is located adjacent to the existing City boundaries.

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