Dear Friends and Residents,
Following a long day at City Hall yesterday, the issue of the Municipal Reserve along 16th avenue has been decided. After presentations from several communities and community members and a debate about the future of the land, Council decided to approve the sale of the land to the developer Western Securities. Over 9 Calgary Communities were represented looking to delay the decision to sell the land until the traffic studies have been completed in the upcoming 1-2 years.
Another item of discussion was the sale price of the land at $250,000 per acre, so the approximate 0.84 acre for $210,000. The City defended their present price due to the nature and restrictions on the land and finally indicated that Western Securities was the only potential buyer as they would control access to the land. City officials said an independent third-party consultant was hired to determine the actual value of the land. City Council heard Monday the land has little value except to the neighbouring landowner, as it has no access to nearby roads and is located next to busy 16th Avenue. The CBC reported that documents obtained through a freedom-of-information request show the city estimated the land’s value in 2012 between $2.9 million and $4.3 million.
Although the decision was certainly disappointing, there were some positive outcomes.
First, public scrutiny over this sale resulted in clarification that the disposition of municipal land would be on a 1:1 basis for an equivalent amount of publicly accessible land within the development, with an overall cap on density for the entire project to remain the same as it was before the land transfer.
Councillor Sutherland committed the Transportation Department to identify a liaison for the communities who would meet quarterly to provide updates to community representatives on all matters related to 16th Ave upgrades, widening, studies that could impact 16th Ave and so on. The communities have already followed up on this point and meetings will begin in January.
Another element that might be construed as positive was Councillor Sutherland’s confirmation that all 14 infrastructure upgrades required by the Stadium ARP would have to be completed for the various phases of the project to be sanctioned. In this regard, the language in the ARP is sufficiently fluid to allow for the Development Authority to approve relaxations, but at least the statement is now part of the public record.
By definition, given the time frames for developments like Stadium, West Campus and the new Cancer Centre, our communities will be challenged to stay on top of this for the long haul. Councillors will be voted in and out, and some of us may or may not continue to represent our communities for the next 5-10 years. Such is life, of course.
I would like to acknowledge the hard work of Jacques Gendron, President of St. Andrews Heights who worked tirelessly on behalf of our 9 communities. I would also like to thank all the presenters, Jacques Gendron and Ken Zdunich from St. Andrew’s Heights, Vince Walker from Parkdale, and Matt Law and Patrica Muir from University Heights. Grant Knowles from Valley Ridge, Iris and John from Dalhousie, and Darlene from Springbank also spoke to support our position. As you can see, it was an unprecedented initiative to work with various communities. Thank you to the many residents who attended council and those who followed along at home on the internet. Simon Corrin, our webmaster, expertly managed our communications and social media and helped us get our message out.
Please find enclose a letter that was sent from Jacques Gendron to Mayor Naheed Nenshi and members of Council which I fully endorse and believe speaks for itself. [Open Jacques Gendron’s Letter Here] Jacques, better than anyone else, conveyed a balanced message of sincere thanks, as well as concern about the decision and its implications.
Peter Khu, President
University Heights Community Association