A controversial proposal to rezone a former southwest Calgary golf course, which was approved by city council Monday, is getting some negative feedback from the area alderman and local residents.

Developer Geo-Energy wants to rezone the former Shawnee Slopes area and build up to 1,700 houses on the privately-owned land.

The move was opposed by many area residents, who feel it will leave them with too little recreational space and a much bigger population clogging area roads.

City council rejected those arguments, approving the development Monday by a vote of 10 to four after a five-hour debate.

But Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart agreed with the residents, criticizing city council for approving the new development in her ward.

Area alderman criticizes approval

Colley-Urquhart says the development, with others in that area, will overwhelm the existing road and transit networks and lead to more problems.

"This council, as we have it today, is clearly geared toward less footprint and increasing density in existing communities, irrespective of whether the transportation network is failing," she said, adding it will also add to the congestion on Macleod Trail south of Fish Creek.

The developer said it is ready to start building the homes this fall or early next year.

"Shovels [are] in the ground, hopefully fall, maybe spring," said Ray Clark with Geo-Energy.

"It just depends on approval processes, which is administrative. It's an administrative function from now on at this point and we hope to get the engineering approvals as soon as we can."

Opposed residents not satisfied

In October, the company was ordered to work with the community before the proposal would be approved, but some people in the area say despite public consultations, there has been no compromise.

Vic Bohonos, whose home borders the course, says pitches from community members and the community association were continuously rejected.

"We understand why the city wants high density around LRTs, but you have to consider what it’s doing to the people who have had this enormous investment for years and years and years. And they shouldn't suffer from that — they should at least be engaged."

Ann Richardson bought her Shawnee Slopes home bordering the 132-acre golf course decades ago as a "retirement nest egg."

She says the value of her home dropped dramatically when the golf course shut down, and now the most likely scenario is the high-density development proposed by Geo-Energy.

"Twelve thousand souls will be parachuted in here and the density will increase dramatically. It's the size of the Town of High River."