Saturday, May 17, 2014

Problem 2: Poor Regional Planning

I believe that there has been some poor planning decisions made in the region due to constraints imposed by the municipal systems.  I'm going to be pretty frank in this post and may step on a few toes.  Remember, it's just my opinion and I welcome being challenged.

I think the Clairmont area is a wreck.  It defies all the best planning practices out there.  In good community planning, you want to try and reduce travel distances between residential areas and places people frequent often (recreational centres, schools, grocery stores, etc.)  You also want to provide pedestrian linkages so that residents can walk or bike to get around.  Connecting residential and commercial hubs together also allows for a more efficient transit system.  Good community planning says that you should locate residential away from major highways and provide sufficient separation from industrial areas.  Clairmont fails on all these fronts.

I think the Clairmont area works great as an industrial park.  Proximity to a major highway being a key factor.  I do not believe it makes sense to have the area as a residential centre.  Residents must compete with heavy industrial traffic daily, are required to take a vehicle to do most of their activities and are often graced by that lovely industrial fog that settles around Clairmont Lake.

Does it really make sense to be encouraging further residential development in this area?

I also think that the County Sportsplex is located in a terrible position.  The vast majority of its users are located in and around the City and must drive needless distances to access the facility.  Also, if anyone wants to access it by biking or walking, they need to cross one of two major highways.  It would have made much more sense to locate it next to a major residential centre.

Grande Prairie sees residential developments building up around the edges of the City's limits.  We have many residential developments sprout up with empty sections of land between them and the nearest residential neighbourhood.  Good planning practices dictate that the empty sections should be filled in first.  Now you have residents needlessly driving further each day.  Also, pedestrian links won't be available until the City develops outward to connect with these areas.  Poor regional planning.

The City has some issues as well.  Under the current system, urban municipalities are encouraged to fill up as much of their land as possible before annexing more.  Mix this with the desire to attract as much development as possible and you can get some poor planning decisions.   For example, the City has very limited land right now for which it can zone for industrial and in effect has to place it in areas that aren't exactly ideal locations.  It would make much more sense to locate all of our industrial in places further away from the City like Clairmont.  However, under current systems, there is very little impetus to have a plan for regional growth and to identify the best places to have various types of development in the region.

Another issue with regional planning right now is that one municipality can approve developments next to another without having to ask how it's going to affect another municipality.  For example, the dinosaur museum will have a major impact on the Town of Wembley.  While the Town's councillors got to have their thoughts heard on the proposed development, they had to watch as County councillors debated and then voted on it.  Wembley voters didn't have the chance to vote in councillors that would support/oppose the museum based on their views even though the development could have a major impact on their lives.  Since the Clairmont area is not in the City/County IDP, we have no control over how it develops even though it has direct impacts on City planning.

In sum, I believe there are some serious problems with planning in our region.  I'm sure there are dozens of examples you could list as well.  Fortunately, there are many solutions to fix it.

Next post ----> Problem 3: Inefficient Service Delivery

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you must be running point-man as the disinformation from our council. I guess I voted for you and I can accept some of the blame however I'm not buying into your opinions here. Hmm., I wonder what I can do to get heard in the MGB process. Will consider that....