Damkar lands application - 500 units on 12-acres

Some residents have asked that we make everyone aware of this upcoming development application in Bearspaw. The application is located just north of Watermark, on the west side of 12 Mile Coulee Road south of Highway 1A. The proposal is for four multi-family buildings that will contain 500 dwelling units on the 12-acre parcel. The application is to include private residential dwelling units and a seniors’ facility.

The County has circulated a notice about the development to adjacent landowners and has asked for comments to be directed to Stefan Kunz at skunz@rockyview.ca by Monday, August 17th.

This application should be of interest to people in Bearspaw as well as elsewhere in Rocky View. Its density, at 40.6 upa (units per acre), goes far beyond anything that has ever been proposed or built in the County. In comparison, the Bearspaw ASP had assumed 4-acre country residential development for the area, which Watermark significantly exceeded with its overall density of 1.95 upa.

If this is your vision for the future for Rocky View, you should respond accordingly. On the other hand, if it is not the direction you’d like Rocky View to move towards, you should be sure your opposition is heard.

The application received 1st reading on July 14th. The date for its public hearing has not yet been released. However, given the County’s circulation notice it seems reasonable to assume that the public hearing will be sometime in the fall.

The fact that the application received 1st reading only acknowledges that it will proceed to a public hearing. At the end of that public hearing council will make its decision on the application. This is a substantial change for those of you who were familiar with the County’s old public hearing process where an application received all three readings at the end of the public hearing. Under Council’s new procedures, first reading has been separated from the public hearing and is now a largely rubber stamp.

For those of you not familiar with the Damkar lands, they are 29 acres at the north-east corner of the Watermark development. When Watermark was approved in 2009, this land was identified as the future location for 57 residential units. However, in 2014, the Damkar Lands Concept Scheme was approved to provide for the construction of a church on 13 acres (currently under construction) and 10 residential lots on just under 5 acres – setting aside the 12-acre remainder parcel which is the subject of this new application. It is a long way from the original 57 units on 29 acres to the 500 units now being proposed on 12 acres.

From the beginning, the Damkar lands have been slated for seniors housing. The concept scheme for this application is for four 4 – 6-storey apartment buildings and is being presented as a “seniors-oriented” community. However, the Direct Control bylaw that will govern its development does not restrict it in any way to providing seniors housing. The DC bylaw includes as “permitted uses” multi-family dwellings (a.k.a. apartment buildings); senior’s community (apartments plus shared community facilities); assisted care facility; and vacation rentals (e.g. AirBnB). As a result, the 500 units could be built and sold to anyone, regardless of age and regardless of whether they intend to use the apartments as their principal residences or as a rental investment.

You can access the Damkar concept scheme here. If you’d also like to review the Direct Control bylaw, you can find it in the July 14th council agenda, starting on page 484.

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