Calgary

Highland Park golf course development decision put off until January 2017

Faced with a tough choice and dozens of angry residents waiting in the wings to speak against a controversial proposal, Calgary city council took a vote Tuesday to delay its decision on the Highland Park Golf Course redevelopment.

Council opts to wait until more is known about plans for eventual Green Line LRT station at 40th Avenue

Coun. Evan Woolley called council's move to delay a development decision on a third vote (after the first two failed) as "trickery" and a waste of time. But Mayor Naheed Nenshi said it's important to get things right, even if that takes time. (CBC)

Faced with a tough choice and dozens of angry residents waiting in the wings to speak against a controversial proposal, Calgary city council took a vote Tuesday to delay its decision on the Highland Park Golf Course redevelopment.

That vote lost, 10-4.

So, they talked some more and voted again, and that vote lost, 8-7.

Then they had lunch.

After their meals, the mayor and councillors reconvened and one more attempt was made to put off the decision.

This time, it passed, 10-5.

As a result, the Vancouver-based developer who wants to build more than 2,000 condo units on the former golf course in northwest Calgary will have to wait until January 2017 to find out if the city will allow it.

The news was welcomed by the 30 or so people who had signed up to speak against the project, who broke out in applause at one point before being reminded by the mayor that outbursts from the public gallery are not allowed at city council.

Resident Ornan Huber is concerned about flooding in the area if the proposed condo development goes through. He was part of a rally against the development the week before it went to council. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

Coun. Evan Woolley, however, was not so pleased.

"I don't think that this process that we've come to today should be considered a big win, because we've been working on this for two years, and this has just been completely befuddled on council floor here," he said.

"So big claps from this is not great. We need to look at what went wrong and look at why we had to go through this massive waste of a whole bunch of people's time today."

Due diligence or 'trickery'?

Woolley, who voted against putting off the decision all three times, described the way council went about the delay as "trickery" and said the city needs more "thoughtful" processes to deal with development proposals like this.

But Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the project is so crucial to the community and the larger area that it's important to deal with as many details as possible before making a final decision.

"I hope that, in January, I'll be able to say this is really good," he said of the development proposal. "Because this can be better."

"This is a precious piece of land in a very important neighbourhood," Nenshi added. "It is a chance for us to do something really special right along an LRT station, to avoid the mistakes we've made in the past."

Consideration of Green Line LRT station

The former golf course, which is bordered by Fourth Street N.W. on the west and McKnight Boulevard to the north, is near where the city plans to put an LRT station when it eventually builds the north-central leg of the Green Line.

City staff plan to hold a charrette — an intensive public-engagement session where citizens are asked to provide specific input on the design of a project — for the planned 40th Avenue station of the Green Line in late October.

Council's decision to put off the development decision until January was based on giving city staff enough time to report back from that charrette, so that they could consider the future of the whole area at once when they give the project an up-or-down vote.

Highland Village Green will include a 'vibrant, natural park corridor and a parks system' with approximately 25 per cent of the planned area intended as publicly accessible open space, developers say. (reimagining.ca)

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