A proposal from the City of Calgary that would make way for more housing near a future Green Line LRT station is also expected to bring significant change to the southeast community of Riverbend.
That proposal would see close to 15 acres of vacant city-owned land on the east end of the neighbourhood redeveloped to build what’s called “transit-oriented development.”
Five sites are set to be re-zoned to allow for the development of three-storey townhomes and six-storey multi-residential buildings within walking distance of the future South Hill LRT station.
The proposal would see the construction of up to 600 units and would be home to an estimated 1,100 people.
“The majority of the land is owned by the city. There’s existing utilities, existing roads,” said Mike Carnegie, a project manager with the City of Calgary. “So this was one of the lower hanging fruit, transit oriented development opportunities.”
However, the plan would also include impacts to Riverstone Road Southeast, a quiet street with a barrier leaving it unconnected to the city-owned land, as well as the nearby 24 Street Southeast.
The plan would open up the road as a connector for traffic as well as transit coming from the South Hill LRT station.
“There’s a bit of anger, but mostly concerns. Safety concerns, traffic concerns, things like that,” said Jason Wingate, who lives adjacent to where the street would be opened. “People have been here a long time, a lot of the people have been here 20 years.
“It’s a big change in a really short amount of time.”
According to the proposal, traffic mitigation on Riverstone Road S.E would mean removing on-street parking on one side of the road, as well as an expansion of the road and sidewalks.
Wingate told Global News that many residents who live in the area don’t have parking outside of a spot on the street. He said he’s also heard concerns about the potential increase in traffic flow coming from the LRT station and proposed development.
“We’re talking 1,000 more people,” he said. “It’s a lot of traffic and they’re going to build more infrastructure by the C-Train station as well, so this (street) will just be busier, busier and busier.”
The City of Calgary has held three information sessions with residents, including two targeted to gather feedback from residents on Riverstone Road S.E.
According to Carnegie, more mitigation efforts are being explored with community feedback also set to be included in the city’s application to redevelop the area.
“Folks are concerned, rightfully so, about increases in traffic and new transit route safety,” he said. “The city does take take those concerns seriously.”
Ward 11 Coun. Kourtney Penner said her office has also heard concerns, adding there are opportunities with flexibility around traffic flow on the street if the proposal gets approved at city hall.
“Safety is top of mind. We know there’s residents and kids, and so how we manage and mitigate for all of that is going to be important,” Penner told Global News. “I think once we know, and have a little bit better direction, on what we want to do in terms of who the street gets open to, that that will be there.”
Although construction on the Green Line LRT is still years away, Penner said she believes there will be similar multi-residential development proposals along the line as the project progresses.
“People often talk about how we redevelop the city and this is one of those great opportunities,” Penner said. “I think we’ll see more of this come along with the Green Line and that’s a good thing.”
An understandable move for Wingate, who said he hopes there are reassurances the community’s concerns are being heard.
“I understand the need for the infrastructure,” he said. “I just think they need to keep in mind the people who have lived here and have been paying property taxes for decades.”
There will be another engagement session on the proposal for residents in Riverbend on Sept. 21, after which the city said it will submit the proposal for a review.
A decision on the proposed redevelopment is expected by city council sometime early next year.