No easy decision concerning Redstone sidewalk stretch

Arlen MacLaine
By Arlen MacLaine
October 18th, 2013

What’s goes into making a sidewalk?  Quite a bit of Council discussion, apparently, based on what happened at this week’s Council meeting. A lengthy discussion centred around the application for a variance permit concerning a stretch of Redstone Drive from the Wagon Road to the clubhouse access road.  The applicant requested a variance to the sidewalk requirement as established by the Subdivision Servicing Bylaw.  As was discovered once discussion started, however, the decision was not as simple as a ‘yea’ or ‘nay’.

According to the application, the applicant is proposing an 8 lot subdivision on the north side of Redstone drive, stretching approximately from the Wagon Road to the clubhouse access road.  The applicant requested a variance to the sidewalk requirement, stating that the requirement for sidewalks is not consistent with the existing Redstone subdivisions which have already been approved.  In Staff’s review of the application it is noted that in recent subdivisions in the city, sidewalk requirements have been inconsistently enforced.

However, it was also noted by Staff that, in the initial Redstone subdivision of 85 lots and the subsequent 27 lot subdivision on the west side of Trail Creek, the subdivision requirements stated that “The City has waived the requirement for concrete sidewalks in anticipation a trail system will be constructed. The Developer shall prepare a trail network plan for the development that includes a construction phasing plan. If the trail plan is unacceptable to the City, the City may require a concrete sidewalk along one side of each road.”

To date only one trail has been built by the City (using 50% grant funding) and no trails have been built by the developer.  The recommendation from Staff was that Council not approve the variance application, and direct the applicant to build a sidewalk using permeable material on the south side of Redstone Drive.

Councillor’s Jody Blomme and Kathy Moore were of similar minds, thinking it was a pretty straightforward decision.

“If we made a deal with them, that if they put in trails, they don’t put in sidewalks, and they don’t put in trails, then they put in sidewalks,” said Moore.  “There is absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t be enforcing the agreements that were made for this subdivision.”

Blomme added, “It just makes sense. If it was supposed to happen, then it should happen.”

Councillor Jill Spearn said, “I would rather them build a trail.  There is already a trail network down there.  When this whole subdivision started, there was a lot of talk about building trails, and increasing the network and frankly [the developers] haven’t done that.  Do we want this piece of sidewalk, or do we want a trail? My vote would be for a trail, but if we’re not going to get a trail, we’d better get something.  As Councillor Moore said, we’re being inconsistent.  We’ve got some subdivisions that have sidewalks, which were put in at great expense, and now we’re saying now you don’t have to put them in.”

Mayor Greg Granstrom brought up another side of the discussion, stating that there is already a compacted, permeable boulevard there.  “The reason that we are able to make variances is for very practical reasons.  Anything that is permeable is there now, and it’s compacted.  If we all of a sudden designate that stretch as a sidewalk, then we’re maintaining it.  That means we’re walking a bobcat from here, all the way down to Redstone, to plow that sidewalk from the Wagon Road to the clubhouse access road.”

The proposed solutions, which included demarcated lines, grading the already permeable compacted area, installing physical and/or visual barriers, were dissected for their advantages and disadvantages, but finding agreement amongst council members proved elusive.

The original motion to not approve the variance, meaning the developer would have to install sidewalks in the proposed area, was defeated 3-2 (Councillors Cary Fisher and Kathy Wallace were absent).  In its wake, Councillor Blomme made a motion that the variance application be approved, so the developer does not have to install the sidewalks, which was carried.

Following that motion, Councillor Tim Thatcher made another motion that Council request Redstone Resort submit an acceptable trail plan for all of Redstone to the City.  This was unanimously passed.


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