A hidden gem in Lacombe is scheduled to undergo a transformation. Directly north of The Lakes, east of Rosedale Valley and south of the ever-advancing shoreline of Elizabeth Lake, lies a mix of trees, grasses, water, and complex vegetation, home to a variety of wildlife.
The City many years prior had plans to put a subdivision on it (North Area Structure Plan). It seems the time has arrived and the required open house is in place, Oct. 24th 6 -8 p.m. in City Hall.
The proposed development of Rosemont Estates and Bowett Ridge, as it will be called, will result in serious loss of wild and sensitive habitat. Decades old forests, with all their rich display of life, will be sacrificed. Animals will lose habitat. To the owner’s credit, this expansion has been held off for several years, and the public has been allowed access to walk, pick berries, even bike and cross-country ski on it.
The current popular housing trend in Lacombe is for generous-sized walkouts, and if there is proximity to a body of water, a lake view. If the developer adopts this approach, the timber must come down. It is likely that large homes, with groomed lawns, paved closes, street and cemented sidewalks will take nature’s place. With all structures, the buildings will age, and go out of style and favour, whereas the natural environment refreshes and energizes people through many generations.
Ideally, this would be a wonderful location for a nature centre, however this is not realistic, given the mechanisms that are already in place and the cost. A possible modification to the already existing plan is a creative development that could incorporate the natural setting and minimize the manmade ‘footprint.’ Google “Serenbe” to see an example of a community that has maintained 70% of the natural environment. Many have been working to set vision for growth and identity in Lacombe. I propose that Lacombe has opportunity to move further ahead by becoming a leader in introducing innovative, newer and alternative treatments to how a space is developed, and what it is used for. It takes courage and finance to incorporate them.
There is no doubt a ready market for smaller ‘green’ housing. There are choices such as affordable, compact, single-family dwellings that will hold value and be more attractive than some multiple housing choices. Neighbourhoods can be designed in smaller groups to share common open space such as garden courtyards.
People are attracted to communities where the natural environment is respected, and preserved. Red Deer has maintained large tracts of such land. The Edmonton river valley is famous for its size and variety. Vancouver has Stanley Park. Groomed and urbanized ‘green spaces’ cannot substitute entirely for native growth. We have some well-utilized places such as Cranna and the trails around Elizabeth Lake.
However, there aren’t many wild areas left. Lacombe would do a service to see the value of what they have in this property and to look at ways to minimize the impact of development on this ecosystem.
If you haven’t had a chance to, walk through the area, do so, then look at the developer’s proposal and evaluate if it will truly benefit Lacombe. Also take note of the water levels on and near Elizabeth Lake, which have risen significantly in the past few years. This part of the property is in a place with a high water table.
May our leaders, and developers make good choices. Build and grow but do it wisely. May we, the citizens voice concern and care for the natural world around us, so that it remains with us for a long, long time. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.