Mixed Views on College Heights Proposed Development
Residents mill about the Columbus Community Centre to get details on proposed development – photos 250News
Prince George, B.C. – Many residents of College Heights and those who live near and use North College Park are not convinced a small housing development is the best use of a piece of North College Park.
The plan put forth at a public meeting last evening, calls for the development of a dozen ” accessible” homes that would appeal to the seniors market . The problem is the proposed location.
About a hundred turned out to the session at the Columbus Community Centre, and while the developer, Dirk Loedel spoke with neighbours inside one room, some residents were outside the doors of that room collecting signatures on a petition opposing the project.
North College Park provides a green space between Domano Boulevard and an existing well established neighbourhood to the north of Domano. In the City’s draft Parks Strategy, which took stock of all parks in the City with a view to repurposing some park property to raise money to improve others, North College Park is listed as being 13.36 hectares in size and providing everything from trails to tennis, parking to swing sets.
According to the City’s parks assessment, the population of the neighbourhood is just over two and a half thousand. If the neighbourhood park provision stand is applied which is 1.2 hectares per thousand population, the City’s report indicates only 3.03 hectares of parkland are required for the neighbourhood, and the neighbourhood currently has 14.96 hectares, almost all of it in North College Park.
The proposed development would only take up about one hectare of the 13.36 hectares and the plan calls for two existing trails through greenspace to be slightly realigned.
No matter how much property the development would take it would mean a loss of some of that greenspace, and that’s what has many of the residents upset about the proposal. “As a parent and as a school teacher, I am concerned about the encroaching on our green space and how that affects the children ” said one woman. Her thoughts were echoed by many in the room.
Developer Loedel doesn’t own the property in question, that is a matter on which the City has yet to decide, but from his perspective, he would like to build a seniors friendly development that he could move into. Loedel says he has been looking to build a project like this for about 3 years, and there are reasons why this particular piece of property is the preferred location ” The first thing is soil conditions. It’s not clay, it’s not mud, it’s sand. The second thing is location. It’s right behind where I presently live and if I move I would like to move real close. Third is proximity to the neighbourhood shopping I’ve been going to for 40 or 50 years and I like the idea that if you look at the development we propose here, everyone would be backing on to a greenbelt.”
Loedel is well aware of the feelings of some in the neighbourhood and says he doesn’t expect to change the opinions of those who oppose the project, but says not all the reaction has been negative “I know there are a few who have written who say they would like to see this go ahead.”
He says the amount of land needed for the development has been deemed “surplus to the needs of that park. There is going to be no loss of trails, no loss of recreation, nothing, it’s all still there.”
City Hall is still far from making a decision on this project as it first must decide if it agrees with the draft park strategy that there is surplus land in the park and then would have to make a decision to sell a portion of the property.