Southeast Calgary residents feel ‘lied to’ after changes to urban housing proposal – Calgary

Southeast Calgary residents feel ‘lied to’ after changes to urban housing proposal – Calgary
Southeast Calgary residents feel ‘lied to’ after changes to urban housing proposal – Calgary

Residents of the Riverbend neighbourhood in southeast Calgary are opposing a city plan change to make room for more housing near a future Green Line LRT station.

The proposal must be finally approved by the city council next week.

The city’s proposal would rezone nearly 15 acres of undeveloped municipal land on the eastern edge of the neighborhood to make way for several two- and three-story homes and four- to six-story residential buildings.

The proposal would allow for the construction of up to 600 homes and house an estimated 1,100 people within walking distance of the future South Hill Green Line station.

However, the city wants to connect Riverstone Road SE to the proposed redevelopment so that buses can transfer to the future LRT stop.

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Residents of the street gave their feedback to the city planners at the end of last summer.

“It seemed like agreeing to only public transit was a compromise between the residents and the city and it seemed like everyone was okay with it,” said Jason Wingate, who has lived on Riverstone Road for nearly 20 years. “While it’s not ideal, it’s not perfect, but it’s better than opening it up to all traffic.”

A map showing the City of Calgary’s proposed changes to the east side of Riverbend.

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There is currently a barrier at the end of the street, disconnecting it from the municipal property and nearby 24 Street SE

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“Originally they said only buses and emergency vehicles would come through, and there would be a gate,” Calista Wintrip, a local resident, told Global News.

But when the proposal got to the Calgary Planning Commission, the city’s authority on land use and planning, commissioners voted to add a provision allowing Riverstone Road to be opened to all types of traffic.

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The commissioners noted that they could not find a “technical reason” to allow access to the street only to public transport and emergency services.

The city’s website states that the public transport-only proposal received support from the assessment team.

Wingate, who will have to give up part of his front yard to widen the road, told Global News the proposed change has not been well received by local residents.

“It just felt like we had been lied to, like the public engagement was a farce, like it was just a show so they could tick a few boxes,” Wingate said.

Ward 11 Councillor Kourtney Penner said she had urged the Calgary Planning Commission to maintain the limited road access for public transit and emergency services, but was not supported.

“Knowing that this was important to local residents, I am working with the administration to understand if there is another opportunity to provide direction to open Riverstone Road for transit and emergencies only,” Penner said in a statement. “I hope to have this plan ready for the public hearing on July 16, 2024.”

Penner encourages residents to speak to the council during the public hearing, and many Riverstone Road residents told Global News they plan to do so.

“I hope they reject this plan,” Wintrip said.

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Wingate said he feels situations like his cause the city and elected officials to “misinterpret” their relationship with residents.

“It’s not an unruly child and parent, it’s an employer and employee and they’re the last,” Wingate said. “I think they need to realize that.”

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