Cumberland council raises many questions about Coal Valley changes

Developer reps consider sticking with current plan after two-hour discussion

Coal Valley Estates was hoping to alter some details for future phases of its large subdivision in Cumberland.

The developer had requested a number of changes for the comprehensive development agreement for the site, though these seemed to be up in the air for now following a recent committee of the whole meeting for Cumberland council.

During the discussion, council tackled the topic for more than two hours at the July 27 meeting held inside Moncrief Hall, the first indoor meeting in a few months. Any changes would still have to come back before council for approval at a regular meeting.

Coal Valley’s requested several changes to its most recent comprehensive development agreement for the site: re-aligning the Penrith Avenue extension and re-configuring the Fan House Park; re-aligning the west end of Kendal Avenue to terminate in a cul-de-sac; deleting the road through the southwest corner of the property, which is now proposed to be seniors housing with only have private roads; adding a lane from the new cul-de-sac bulb at the west end of Kendal Avenue to connect to a new road leading to the southwest corner of the property; relocating the southern portion of proposed Greenway/Walkway; swapping the Seniors Housing Area and the Multi-Family Area in the southwest corner of the property; removing approximately 0.099 ha of the riparian area just southwest of Fan House Park to allow laneway access; reducing the Commercial/Residential Area; and making some minor adjustments to the Multi-Family and Single Family areas.

“The developer’s needs have changed, and so have the needs of the community,” senior planner Karin Albert told council, citing newer priorities for the Village like affordable housing, green space and downtown transportation corridors.

Council went through each of the items along with some additional matters of off-site infrastructure improvements and amenities such as green space, with members highlighting a number of concerns.

About the proposed road alignment changes, Coun. Vickey Brown emphasized the need for traffic calming, expressing reservations about any plans to straighten the roads.

“The curvier the road, the slower the traffic, the less dangerous it is,” she said.

Members of council were upset about the fate of the historic Fan House from mining days, saying the agreement had originally called for its preservation, but that it had deteriorated to the point where it will have to come down. Mayor Leslie Baird said she hopes some of its components can be worked into a future park in the area, while Coun. Jesse Ketler said she disagreed with the idea of taking out pieces of proposed greenways and called for tree retention as much as possible. She also cited concerns about drainage and wetland preservation.

“For the wetland, we need that water infiltrating somehow back into that same system, so that the wetland remains a wetland,” she said.

Among council members, other general concerns included the effects of any proposed blasting on site, riparian setbacks and establishing a seniors’ community that would be ‘gated.’

Near the end of the discussion, developer representatives suggested in light of all the issues raised by council, it might make more sense to stay with the existing CDA for the site.

Again, council members still pointed to concerns such as wish to see a study of traffic flow or the need to define the wetland boundaries. Village staff responded that council can expect more information about how to proceed at the next regular meeting on Aug. 11.

Council did approve one motion at the end of the discussion. As these issues had required significant staff time and legal consultation, there was a recommendation in the staff report for the Village to charge a fee to recover costs, as is consistent with other significant development covenants. The motion also noted for staff to negotiate with Coal Valley Estates on the amendment issue.

RELATED STORY: Cumberland council gives go-ahead for next phase at Coal Valley

Coal Valley Estates’ original subdivision and development covenant dates back to 2011, as it was registered as part of a rezoning of the land for the multi-phase development. The developer requested an amendment to the plan in 2015, but this was rejected primarily because of concerns about a proposed reduction of multi-family units. The following year, the developer requested relocating multi-family units, which the Village approved in April 2017.

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Coal Valley Estates plan. Image, McElhanney Consulting Services map

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