Working together for growth

At its regular meeting last month, Lacombe City council heard from over 100 unhappy Lacombe residents

At its regular meeting last month, Lacombe City council heard from over 100 unhappy Lacombe residents as part of the City’s public hearing process of a land re-zoning in relation to the new Trinity Crossing development.

During the same week at its own regular meeting, Blackfalds Town council heard from just one resident at its public hearing before giving second reading to the proposed Aurora Heights development, and that resident’s only concern was that the wetlands in the area remain maintained, something already accounted for in the plan.

Before the election, Lacombe City council was criticized for its inability to encourage growth in Lacombe and many of the councillors elected stated that encouraging growth was a primary objective for them. Lacombe’s recent housing analysis also concluded that Lacombe is in dire need of residential growth, particularly low-income high-density housing, in order to grow any further.

But when council tries to do just that, build a high-density development to encourage further growth, it is met by strong resistance from the general public.

Blackfalds, on the other hand, has experienced explosive growth in the past few years and when its Town Council holds a public hearing regarding a new development, they face no opposition whatsoever. Granted, there is no way of knowing if the silent majority in Blackfalds was in support of the development or if they simply didn’t know or care enough about it to attend the public hearing, but it is said quite often that happy citizens are less likely to take an active role in politics than those who are unhappy.

Is it possible then that Lacombe’s councillors aren’t the only ones to blame for the City’s lack of growth? Perhaps part of the problem is also the attitude of Lacombe’s residents?

That’s not to say the concerns raised by those who spoke at the recent public hearing in Lacombe were not valid. Indeed they were and we can only hope that they make council take a step back and think while working on future developments.

Terrace Heights Dr. resident Marco de Andreade was right when he said that the City should be trying to exceed requirements instead of meeting them, “To make the area a place people will want to live, not have to live because it’s cheap.” But Mayor Steve Christie was also right when he said that council was between a rock and a hard place making the decision and that neither outcome would be ideal.

The point is, there needs to be some compromise on both ends. City council can’t just push through legislation because all the boxes are checked and Lacombe’s residents can’t oppose new developments just because they don’t want them in their backyard.