Neighbour’s desire for secondary residence further wrecking area
Re: Rezoning on Westlock Road
I would like to warn other neighbourhoods which have R1 – Residential RURAL zoning that your days of peace and quiet are numbered. I moved to my neighbourhood 15 years ago because it offered large lots for fruit trees and vegetable gardens. It was quiet and peaceful, yet only a short drive to Duncan.
In the 15 years since, the peace I searched for was challenged when the woodlot behind my home was razed to allow 68 homes for the Trumpeter Pointe development. Along with it went several Garry oak trees, as well as “wildlife” trees, along the shore of Quamichan Lake where previously we used to see numerous eagles and herons on a daily basis.
The quiet was replaced by the noise of construction traffic that chose the expedited route along narrow Westlock Road instead of safer Shoreview Way, part of the development itself. I’ve watched as heavy vehicles and constructions workers have sped along our street, with no concern for the danger to the children that make their way along the same street up to Maple Bay Road for school.
Those same vehicles and those of my neighbours narrowly miss being in accidents at the intersection with Maple Bay Road. The sightlines are extremely poor to the east and with traffic racing towards Duncan during the morning commute, it is becoming more and more difficult to exit the street. The increasing traffic flowing from Westlock Road makes the likelihood of a serious accident at the intersection even more likely.
I’ve put up with disruption to my lifestyle for many years knowing that eventually this chapter of development would be completed and some semblance of the neighbourhood I searched long and hard for would return. That was until one of my neighbours decided to initiate a new chapter.
This neighbour wants to build a smaller home in the backyard of her current residence with access via a panhandle driveway. This would dramatically change the appearance of our semi-rural neighbourhood! It is unfortunate that the desire of my neighbour to remain in our “safe” neighbourhood (by subdividing her lot) is more important than my desire to remain in my “quiet and peaceful” neighbourhood.
At the public hearing held on Sept. 19, council voted 4-3 in favour of allowing the zoning to change from R1 to R3 and the lot in question to be subdivided. Arguments presented against it seemed to have gone unheard. You can be assured I will NOT be voting in the October elections for those council members (Siebring, Walker, Maguire and Lefebure) that voted in favour!
Unfortunately, what is left of the “beautiful well-established neighbourhood” that my neighbour enjoys so much will no longer exist when pan-handle driveways leading to homes in backyards are permitted.
The Official Community Plan policies in question are 220.127.116.11 “ensure new residential development respects and complements the character of the surrounding environment” which must not be as important to council as 18.104.22.168 “encourage development of secondary suites and infill housing”. As the house in question is a large raised bungalow, it would be much easier to make the ground floor a secondary suite, thus allowing the home owner to remain, bring in some rental income yet still respect the character of the surrounding neighbourhood.
This “Smart Growth” policy which purports to “enhance quality of life and preserve the natural environment” is certainly not doing so for me and many of my other neighbours.
I understand densification will happen eventually with the loss of mature trees and increased traffic. I know, I have been living through it for nearly a decade. The issue is it could be done in a more sensitive, pleasing manner. I propose instead of allowing homes to be built in the “backyards” of existing homes with panhandle driveways, that the current land owner (and others that may have similar plans) tear down the existing home, then subdivide the land in half. Two new smaller “more affordable” homes with their own driveways and road frontage would be safer and more pleasing and maintain the current look of the Westlock neighbourhood.