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RFD- 3117 Bylaws   Item #   9. a.    
Regular Council Meeting Agenda
Meeting Date: 09/25/2017  
Title:    C-987-17 - Second and Third Readings - East Pioneer Area Structure Plan Amendment - Levasseur
Department: Planning & Infrastructure  
Strategic Vision Element: Where People Choose to Live - A dynamic city with an exceptional quality of life Related Goal: n/a

Request for Decision Summary
The purpose of this report is to request second and third readings from Council of Bylaw C-987-17.
Bylaw C-987-17 is a proposed amendment to the East Pioneer Area Structure Plan (ASP). City Administration is proposing this amendment to provide clear policy in regard to the protection of wetlands and ensuring that lands are suitable for the identified future land use.
Administration supports this amendment as the proposed policy being added is building from, and adding details to, both existing policy in the East Pioneer ASP and policies identified within Section 4.5 of Your Bright Future, The City of Spruce Grove Municipal Development Plan (MDP).

Proposed Motion
That second reading be given to Bylaw C-987-17 - East Pioneer Area Structure Plan Amendment, as amended.
That third reading be given to Bylaw C-987-17 - East Pioneer Area Structure Plan Amendment.
East Pioneer Area Structure Plan
The East Pioneer Area Structure Plan was originally adopted as Bylaw C-843-13 in May 2013. At that time, a large natural area with a fen complex (a type of wetland) was identified in the southeastern plan area. Preliminary studies of this area, including a biophysical assessment and a fen delineation report, were prepared to assist in the preparation of the ASP.

Since the approval of the ASP more has been learned about the natural area, the underlying soil / organic material, and the local hydrology. This additional information, together with a better understanding of the information required to make decisions regarding the protection of the natural area from encroaching urban development, form the basis of the proposed amendment.

In the summer of 2015, the City of Spruce Grove forged forward with the installation of sanitary sewer within, and the construction of, Pioneer Road between Grove Drive and Highway 16A. This ongoing construction has provided valuable information in regard to the soil structure and water table of the adjacent lands within the treed natural areas on either side of Pioneer Road. Deep organic layers together with high water tables hindered construction efforts and added considerable cost to road development and sewer installation.

The landowner of SE 2-53-27-W4 on the west side of Pioneer Road has had further experience with the lands previously identified as a significant natural area. After clearing a portion of the trees in preparation for development, additional detailed testing has revealed deep organic soils and high water tables which may make a portion of the land unviable, or at least uneconomical, for urban development as proposed in the ASP.

In addition to the construction experience, City Administration (together with an associated biological consultant) conducted a site investigation as part of a subdivision application within the S ½ NW 1-53-27-4. This site investigation revealed the presence of a high water table and the potential for deep, saturated organic soils in lands that had previously been identified as Park/Open Space (Municipal Reserve) in the approved ASP.

The above noted experiences have raised doubt regarding the developability of any of the treed, or formerly treed, areas of the F1 and F2 natural areas as identified in the 2010 Stantec biophysical assessment (included as Figure 1 within Attachment A). For this reason, the policy regarding the natural area is being amended to ensure that any potential wetland is protected for preservation, non-developable lands are left in their natural treed state for incorporation into the natural areas, and that future development areas are suitable for the proposed development.

While the City of Spruce Grove encourages development to support its rapidly growing population, it also recognizes the importance of preserving natural areas for the enjoyment of both local and regional residents, and the ongoing health of the surrounding area by saving environmentally significant areas for naturally occurring flora and fauna.

The purpose of the proposed amendment is to provide clear policy regarding:
  1. the protection of wetlands; and
  2. ensuring that lands are suitable for the proposed future uses.
At the time that the East Pioneer ASP was prepared, the Province of Alberta was reluctant to identify fens as eligible land for environmental reserve. Through the hard work of Administration and Council, the developers agreed to preserve the fen complex as environmental reserve through the policy of the ASP. The approved ASP currently identifies the fens as environmental reserve and the rest of the associated swamp and forested areas as Park/Open Space, noting that “Additional studies may be required to delineate the area to be dedicated as ER (Environmental Reserve) needed to retain and protect the fen area…”).
Unfortunately the identification of environmental reserve (ER) on the land use concept map has been taken out of context by some of the local landowners. The multiple text references within the approved ASP identifying that further study and refinement would be required prior to the delineation and dedication of environmental reserve have been overlooked and reliance on the Land Use Concept map have led to some apparent misinterpretation (although a text note on the map stated “Additional work will be required at the time of subdivision to determine environmental reserve requirements”).
To provide clarity regarding future environmental reserve dedications the ER designation has been removed from the Land Use Concept map and specific policy relating to the natural area and future environmental reserve dedications have been included within the text of the proposed amendment. Details of the proposed policy include statements that the City will claim all wetlands (fen, bog, swamp, etc.) within the identified natural area as environmental reserve and that the City will not accept non-developable lands as municipal reserve. The proposed policy also builds upon existing ASP and MDP policy stating that further studies are required prior to development, adding what types of study would be required at minimum and when they would be required.
Your Bright Future, The City of Spruce Grove Municipal Development Plan (MDP)
The preservation of this East Pioneer ASP natural area is also identified within the MDP. Shown as Environmentally Significant Area ‘I’ on Figure 6 of the MDP, this land is subject to policy under section 4.5 of the MDP. In particular, section that states the City shall:

Require an assessment for any proposed development which would adversely affect an environmentally significant area as identified on Figure 6: Parks and Open Space and discussed in Appendix C. This assessment shall include, but is not limited to:
  • a description of the proposed development, including its purpose, alternatives and staging requirements;
  • a description of the effects (positive and negative) that the proposed undertaking may have on the biophysical environment;
  • an indication of the limitation of the study, criteria used in predicting effects, and interests consulted;
  • recommended measures to mitigate any negative effects identified;
  • presentation of the results in a framework that can assist decision-makers in determining the final course of action; and
  • viability and sustainability of the natural area(s) based on the proposed redevelopment or development in the immediate area.
The policy within this amendment provides further detail and adds clarity to these requirements for all lands containing, or anticipated to contain, a portion of this environmentally significant area.

C-987-17 Amendments
The draft bylaw was reviewed by a hydrogeologic consultant and minor wording amendments have been made to the document since first reading to address their recommendations.  Other technical wording amendments have been made to clarify issues that were raised during consultation.
Following approval of first reading, administration mailed a copy of the draft bylaw to all affected landowners. Included in this mail out was an invitation to meet with administration to review the draft bylaw and discuss any potential concerns.

In response to this mail out, administration received requests for meetings from two owners, a letter of objection from the Ares family (attached), and a letter of objection regarding the lack of consultation and potential impact from Qualico (attached). 

Administration met with representatives from Lot A, Plan 752 0163 on two occasions to discuss their concerns regarding the impacts this amendment may have on their property and the different public consultation path followed for this amendment. Assurance was given that they would be permitted to speak to Council at a public hearing before second reading was considered. Other potential future land uses for the property were discussed, but without the required reports, administration could not provide substantial feedback. Administration recommended that the owners prepare and submit their own ASP amendment and supporting documents to change the future land uses on their property.

Administration met with the owner of Lot C, Plan 932 0639 to review the amendment and the potential impact on their property.

Subsequent to the passing of first reading, administration met with representatives of the N & S 1/2 NW 1-53-27-4 regarding their development plans for the Fenwyck neighbourhood. At this meeting, presentation was made by their hydrogeological consultants identifying the program of study and considerations involved in their report. Administration was pleased that this level of study was being completed and that steps were being taken to protect the identified natural area.

In July, administration had a preliminary meeting with representatives of SE 2-53-24-4. At this meeting a proposed revision to the land use concept was presented by Qualico and their consultants. The proposed revisions were partly in response to changing market conditions, but more importantly, the result of changes required to satisfy the findings of a detailed hydrogeological study that had been prepared for the property. Although the hydrogeologic consultants report has not been presented to administration for review, administration acknowledged that the report would likely satisfy the reporting requirements in proposed bylaw C-987-17.

No response was received from the owners of Lot 3, Block 1, Plan 022 1293.

A statutory public hearing will be held prior to second reading. Advertising of the public hearing will be as per the requirements of the Municipal Government Act, and individual notice will be mailed to landowners within 30 m of the proposal.
If approved, Administration will upload the bylaw onto the City website.
This amendment will provide detail and clarity to policy regarding the environmentally significant natural area located within the East Pioneer ASP. This clarity includes a statement that the City will claim any wetland, as per the Municipal Government Act, as environmental reserve with no financial compensation.
Bylaw C-987-17 Second & Third Readings
Letter of Objection 1
Letter of Objection 2

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