Original Published on Aug 23, 2022 at 14:20
Shrinking new lot size means increase number for sale to over 100 lots, existing residents’ concerns many
By Brenda Sawatzky, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
On Wednesday, August 17, St. Adolphe residents had an opportunity to voice opinions on applications made by the developers of Tourond Creek which would enable the company to move forward with plans for phase two of residential development.
The first request submitted to council by SALCO (St. Adolphe Land Company) included a proposal for subdivision which, if approved, would result in the creation of new public roads on the southeast corner of the development.
The second application was dependent on the first. SALCO submitted to council a request for variance on ten of the new lots which would allow the company to decrease the side yards from the standard ten feet to eight feet, thus mirroring the existing lots on the north side of the development.
Brandon Powell, consultant to SALCO, attended the public meeting virtually, providing background to the company’s requests.
“The reason why we’re proposing to subdivide is we are completely limited in terms of our inventory for single-family lots,” Powell told council members.
Supply and trade shortages of the past few years, he noted, have resulted in build times that have increased from six months to about two years. In light of that, he says SALCO is working proactively to ready the land for builders well in advance.
“Phase two will include Tourond Creek’s first lakeview lots along the pond,” Powell added. “This is a new amenity-style lot that we haven’t had the opportunity to market yet so we’re very excited about this.”
Powell then noted that impact studies have been completed in respect to increased traffic flow along Highway 200 once phase two is complete. Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure (MTI), he said, have not identified any vehicle capacity issues or the necessity for infrastructure upgrades where Highway 200 turns onto Tourond Creek Drive.
In addition to this, Powell says that SALCO retained the services of Stantec Engineering to perform a review of traffic impacts at this intersection. Results of the study, he said, indicate that even after the completion of all proposed units, the intersection would still only operate at 35 percent capacity at peak hours and no additional access points would be required at this time.
Three residents attended the public hearing to air their concerns in person. Another resident submitted her grievances by an email, which Mitch Duval read into the public record.
Most of those addressing council were residents of the Tourond Creek community. All of them echoed a common concern: the lack of a secondary access to the development which would be dedicated to construction vehicles and equipment.
As pointed out at the meeting, two more access points were promised in SALCO’s original development plan. These intersections were to connect to St. Adolphe Road (also known as Old Dike Road) at points just east of the phase two development.
According to Powell, construction of these new access points has been stalled by outside agencies until further notice, tying SALCO’s hands on their creation at this time.
“We have one way in and one way out,” Powell said of the single access point off Highway 200. “Construction vehicles, by way of our development agreement, must come through Tourond Creek Drive.”
In response to this issue, one resident queried how the developer and the RM plan to set better controls during phase two development—controls, she said, that weren’t in place during the build out of phase one.
“How will… large construction vehicles share the roadways with kids on bikes?” she questioned. “Will builders be accountable for trades to slow down when coming into… the development? Fifty kilometers an hour for a cement truck coming down Chimney Swift [Drive] when kids are playing on bikes is not safe.”
As well, she noted other frustrations residents have had to endure over the past years, such as heavy machinery taking up space in Bartman Park, construction vehicles blocking occupied streets without notice to homeowners, and damages to curbs and sidewalks due to heavy equipment.
These are similar to concerns which were shared with The Citizen immediately after the public hearing, where a Tourond Creek resident cited accidents caused by construction vehicles in the recent past.
One involved a ruptured line which created a massive hydraulic fluid spill on the street in front of resident mailboxes, causing traffic to be rerouted, she told The Citizen. The problem, she said, was that detour streets at the time were also being blocked by parked construction vehicles, bringing resident traffic to a near standstill for a time.
The second accident included a natural gas leak which resulted from a construction vehicle breaking through a gas line very near to the development’s sole entrance. Traffic was bottlenecked for a long time, she said, and gas service was shut down for her and other residents, leaving them without heat through the night.
Another resident in attendance at the meeting told council that, with a second development access point, construction traffic could be diverted down secondary roads which could in fact help reduce structural damage to St. Adolphe’s Main Street.
“A fully loaded ten-yard cement truck weighs 70,000 pounds,” he told council. “Dozens if not hundreds of commercial vehicles weighing this much and probably more travel on Main [Street] with the destination being Tourond Creek.”
Delay for New Access Roads
To those gathered, Duval provided details on the chain of events that need to occur before access points along St. Adolphe Road can be created.
Firstly, he said, there are pipelines running alongside the road which will require the establishment of a crossing agreement with Imperial Oil.
Secondly, St. Adolphe Road is currently under the province’s jurisdiction. Based on conversations the RM has had with MTI, a plan is in place to eventually raise the height of the community’s ring dike by using dirt removed from St. Adolphe Road.
Until that time, Duval said, it’s difficult to consider the addition of intersections along this route. In his best estimation, another three- to five-year wait wouldn’t be unrealistic before the province acts on those plans.
One Tourond Creek resident in attendance reacted in frustration to this, indicating that the RM and the developer have already had years to deal with the province and Imperial Oil in getting this issue resolved.
Duval concurred, suggesting that it may be wise for council to begin talks with the oil company on creating a temporary access point, at minimum, for construction vehicle use during the development of phase two.
Other concerns were also raised with council, apart from construction traffic. Residents responding by email and in person agreed that builders, too, need to be held to a higher standard through greater accountability.
Weeds throughout the development, they said, were allowed to grow to heights of five feet or more, posing not just an aesthetics issue but also a safety concern when the weeds hide fire hydrants from view.
As well, the residents added, garbage from building sites frequently litters the development as a whole.
Having heard the many concerns, Mayor Chris Ewen suggested to council that the RM’s administration send out a letter to developers indicating that fines will be issued when weeds are not managed properly.
To Powell, Ewen recommended that SALCO find a means of informing residents when street closures or blockages are imminent.
To the residents in attendance, he suggested that council be informed when issues arise within the development. In turn, he concluded, council will discuss the feasibility of speed reduction on streets leading to the construction zones.
Powell thanked council and residents for sharing their concerns. He closed by indicating a willingness to take the messages back to SALCO where discussions can take place in the hopes of diminishing negative impacts on residents during the buildout of phase two.
Duval, too, informed council that he will be in talks with legal counsel regarding additional wording in development agreements going forward which will hold the developer more accountable for the actions of builders on their sites.
Council voted unanimously in favour of accepting SALCO’s variation application and proposed subdivision request.
This item reprinted with permission from The Citizen, Niverville, Manitoba