I attended a meeting a few weeks ago, along with various members of the Armstrong business community and Mayor Pieper.
The meeting was about the proposed rezoning at the corner of Harding Road and Highway 97A. The proposed rezoning was to support a development: expansion from 0.2 of a hectare (about five city lots) to more than one hectare of tourist commercial property (about two football fields) with enough room for a motel and two restaurants.
Although the legal public hearing requirements have been met, there are some issues in this proposal that need to be seriously considered before council does final reading of this bylaw.
I think it would be remiss of council to support a development that would further split Armstrong’s commercial base into not two, as it now is, but three distinct areas.
I’m more concerned about municipal services. First of all, traffic flow. The entrance to this development would not be on the highway, but on Harding Road. Harding Road is an access point for all traffic for the residences in the golf course area. If that area is fully developed, Harding Road will need to be improved. Are the general taxpayers of Armstrong going to bear those costs or is road widening and general improvement costs borne by the developer?
The traffic flow on the highway is also a concern. Traffic can come from north or south easily into that area. But because there are no merge exit lanes in that area or a traffic light, all Harding Road traffic, in order to exit back on to the highway, has to cross two or three lanes of oncoming traffic.
My other concern is water flow which affects us all in Armstrong. That area is currently serviced by water flow that is sufficient to meet residential, not commercial standards.
The cost of the initial water flow upgrade for the 0.2 hectares was to be borne by the developer. The matter of who is going to bear the cost for the upgrade for the one-hectare development was not clear to me. Council’s own engineer stated that it would not be prudent to go ahead with this rezoning until the issue of water flow had been dealt with.
At the meeting I attended, Mayor Pieper assured the audience there would be no additional costs borne by taxpayers, but I have no idea whether or not a cost-shared agreement is in fact in place or agreed to by all parties.
It sounds like it is something that might happen in the future. I think then to follow council’s past logic on other issues, the rezoning proposal could be tabled indefinitely until it is more imminent.
Even if the fire flows are in place and everyone has agreed who pays, and it’s not the taxpayer, and the road is wide enough and everyone has agreed who is paying for that, and it’s not the taxpayer, it would be hard to convince me this is not creating a problem where more lives could be lost with increased traffic flows at an already unsafe highway crossing.
I’m not against a hotel or more restaurants. But, I would encourage council to encourage development where the municipal services are already in place.