Retail stores plan to utilize land near park
Concerned Calgarians trickled in and out of the Bowness Community Association on Oct. 12 for an information night addressing the proposed changes to Canada Olympic Park and the adjacent land.
The session provided an overview of the plans to use about 63 acres of the green space east of Canada Olympic Park, currently owned by WinSport Canada. It also gave citizens a chance to express their concerns about the changes.
"The east side of Canada Olympic Park currently remains entirely undeveloped," said John Hall, senior planner of land use, planning and policy at the City of Calgary.
The land is being eyed by Stantec Consulting Ltd., on behalf of WinSport Canada, for hosting a variety of mainly small and medium format retail services such as Shopper's Drug Mart and Future Shop.
"WinSport's plan is to sell the commercial development sites to a developer," said Shawn Small, senior planner for new community policy and subdivision services for the City of Calgary.
"Stantec is a consultant currently acting on behalf of WinSport."
Currently, the city does not know who the developer will be.
"It's just incredibly overwhelming," said Christine Grotefeld, one Calgarian in attendance, "And I don't know what they are actually planning on doing.
"I know that they are wanting to put in retail and I heard it's the big bucks stores, which I definitely don't want to see."
With the proposed retail services, the City of Calgary has asked that in order to manage their strategic objectives there should be a way to create employment opportunities for Calgarians.
The city hopes those employment opportunities will eventually establish a transportation counter flow, Hall said.
A transportation counter flow is a plan to deter traffic from traveling to and from downtown, and instead travel to Canada Olympic Park. This would be a way to better utilize the city's transportation infrastructure, explained Hall.
The information session displayed the proposed changes to the intersection of the Trans-Canada Highway and Bowfort Road. The plan is that the city will fund construction to turn the intersection into a six-lane interchange.
There are plans to further build the intersection to an eight-lane interchange, which would be funded by the developer.
Maintaining the green space that is currently on the east side of Canada Olympic Park is something that Calgarian Myrna Amey is worried about.
"It's great to see the development, but there is concern about taking over the green space, and that's the major concern I have," said Amey.
According to Hall, the current proposal suggests the majority of the site — approximately 156 acres — would be retained as open space and transferred into ownership of the city.
There is potential for the city to turn some of that land into cross-country ski trails after the retail services have been built, Hall said, with further possibilities for other recreational uses.
Small of the City of Calgary said that a land use re-designation is required from the city for the project to go forward, as the current land use designations do not permit the plans proposed by WinSport Canada and Stantec.
Calgarian Marg Weber said that the entire plan is something that she is still digesting, but she isn't sure that she likes it. Weber is open to exploring different options.
"We are trying to get just another plan so that it doesn't seem so big, boxy and awkward," she said.
Hall agrees. "We have expressed concerns with the applicant [Stantec Consulting Ltd.] over the magnitude of retail proposed and we have worked with them to try and create a situation where some employment uses could be developed to better create a counter flow situation."
Small said the project proposal will now have to go to a public hearing of city council for a decision that will ultimately determine the next steps for the project. That hearing will be held on Nov. 7, 2011.