Planning model has changed

Hillside developments were promoted two decades ago to preserve agricultural lands.

The initial Deer Ridge development, north of Prairie Valley Road, might not have been approved by today’s municipal council, but two decades ago, the approach to planning was different.

At the time, strong efforts were in place to protect and preserve agricultural land in the valley bottoms, resulting in hillside development instead.

“I realize why Deer Ridge was put in 20 years ago,” said Mayor Janice Perrino. “It was to preserve land.”

Today, she wonders if it was the best use of the land.

The development, on a hillside, is accessed by a steep road. Because it is on rocky terrain, not serviced by the sewer system, there have been ongoing problems with runoff and seepage from the homes in the area.

During her time as mayor, Perrino has advocated development and infilling near the core of the community, creating a community where the majority of the residents are a short walk from most businesses and amenities.

This compact community concept also results in easier and less expensive costs for services such as roads, sewer, power and water.

“We have to think in a common-sense manner about how we manage our infrastructure costs,” she said.

The proposed expansion in the Deer Ridge area, which passed second and third reading at the last municipal council meeting on March 25, allows for additional development there.

However, the bylaw considered would also have the developer pay the costs of bringing the sewer service to the neighbourhood. This cost alone is expected to come in at well over $1 million.