Plans for park in Ryders Ridge area will involve public input, open houses

Residents in the south end of Ryders Ridge will have several chances to provide ideas

Residents in the south end of Ryders Ridge will have several chances to provide ideas for development of a large community-wide park area in their neighbourhood.

Councillors passed first reading of a bylaw to amend the Ryders Ridge plan area to change zoning on the park area in the southwest corner from Urban Reserve to Public Facility. A public hearing on the change was set for May 27.

“Public Facility land use will facilitate registration of the parcel and Municipal Reserve, thereby protecting its purpose and transfer of ownership to the municipality,” said Tim Schmidt, the town’s director of planning and development.

“To qualify as Environmental Reserve (ER) the area must be a swamp, gully, ravine, watercourse or substantial slope,” he said.” … The presence of trees does not constitute qualification of ER.”

His report noted that plans to date envision the area as a portion of a larger 10 plus acre passive recreation area spanning across Ryders Ridge, The Vista in Ryders Ridge and Crestview neighbourhoods. No intensive recreational facilities are planned for the area.

The process for refining the park design (after the land use amendment is passed) includes circulating and making public design options that are based on public feedback and current plans; a public open house for residents and groups to share their thoughts and help define the area in more detail; and the revision of the design into one or more options followed by another open house and their approval by council, Schmidt’s report stated.

Councillor Laverne Asselstine who had raised concerns before about future plans, thanked Schmidt for his work. He then suggested when the town is dealing with issues such as this, that tend to be controversial, they should post the complete staff report on the town’s website for people to read. “Hopefully that would satisfy some people out there who are concerned about this.” He added there aren’t too many issues that attract the same amount of interest.

“I want to make sure we can involve as many people as possible,” said Councillor Sean McIntyre. Public Facility zoning is almost one of trust. I’m hoping we can involve the public on a pretty grand scale.” He asked that open houses be held in the Ryders Ridge neighbourhood. “I don’t want to see this (park design) just being driven through.”

Of particular concern is the stand of mature trees in the area which has been used for years by people in the area, and how to protect them.

While Councillor Graham Parsons concurred with other councillors, he added, “I like the idea of mature trees but people have to realize we’re going to have to clean it up, make it safe as well.”