East Hill MASP Amendment: Molly Banister Drive

New Application – No future Molly Banister Drive road extension and bridge

The City has recently received an application to remove the Molly Banister Drive road extension and bridge across Piper Creek shown in The City’s long-term plans (Municipal Development Plan 2013 (pdf) and the East Hill MASP (pdf)). The road extension and bridge would connect Bower Place shopping centre with the vacant quarter section south of the Sunnybrook neighbourhood (NE 4-38-27-4). 

Molly Banister Drive Extension location map

In technical terms, an application has been submitted to remove the Piper Creek protected crossing shown in the Municipal Development Plan and the East Hill Major Area Structure Plan.  The arrows over Piper Creek in the images below show where the bridge would be located.

 Remove existing connection – NO Molly Banister bridge or road connection in the future

The road extension and bridge protects space to accommodate a four-lane collector road connecting Molly Banister Drive to 22 Street if it is required in the future – approximately within 20 to 30 years.

Background

What is the history of the potential Molly Banister Drive road extension and bridge?

This is the third time an application has been made by Melcor regarding the potential Molly Banister Drive road extension and bridge since fall of 2019, however the topic of extending Molly Banister Drive across Piper Creek has been ongoing for nearly 50 years. 

The Molly Banister Drive road extension and bridge was first shown in City planning and transportation documents in the 1970’s. 

In 1996, a Transportation Plan Update was completed which included the Molly Banister Drive road extension and bridge; however, neighbouring residents protested the extension of Molly Banister Drive and asked Council to eliminate it, which Council did.

In 2003, administration asked Council to include the Molly Banister Drive road extension in the 2003/2004 Transportation Plan Update. The 2003/2004 update identified the need to widen 32 Street which had severe impacts to adjacent residents, business and park space. Council directed administration to review options to avoid widening 32 Street and in 2006 administration completed the Southeast Sector Transportation Study, which showed the Molly Banister Drive extension and bridge as an option to defer the need to widen 32 Street. The study also compared the effectiveness of each option, including the option to widen 19 Street, which was determined to be required independent of the Molly Banister Drive extension to accommodate growth in The City’s southeast sector.

In 2019 Melcor applied to remove the Molly Banister Drive road extension and bridge from the MDP and East Hill MASP. Their application was defeated in October 2020 by Council as the majority of Council felt that land should be protected for the road extension and bridge in the event that traffic counts warrant it in the next 20 to 30 years.   

In 2021, the developer applied to reduce the Molly Banister Drive road extension from an arterial roadway (43 m road right of way) to a smaller collector roadway (up to a 32 m road right of way) and provide options on where the bridge would cross Piper Creek. The three bridge options were Molly Banister Drive, Bennett Street, and Boyce Street. On August 31, 2021, Council considered the application and amended the plans to reduce the roadway to a smaller four lane collector that could cross Piper Creek at Molly Banister Drive.

Why is this being considered again?

There are no limits on the number of applications that can be made by a landowner or developer – rather it is a legislative right to request changes to City plans. Since an application has been submitted, The City is required to process the application.

What have we previously heard from residents?

In 2019, The City consulted with the surrounding neighbourhoods and the broader public regarding the proposed amendment to remove the road extension and bridge from City plans. In addition, an online survey was available for the broader public. 

The majority of the public stated that they wanted the road extension and bridge to remain as an option for better travel connections. 

The majority of comments in support of keeping the road extension and bridge included:

  • Reduction of traffic along 19 Street, 32 Street, and/or 40 Avenue
  • More options to meet traffic needs of a larger city
  • Roadway design can take into account wildlife, trails, and natural and environmental features
  • Less travel time means lower carbon emission

The majority of comments in support of removing the road extension and bridge included:

  • No disruption to wildlife, natural and environmental areas, and trails
  • Existing road options are adequate
  • Traffic congestion can be accommodated through road improvements to other roadways such as 19 Street

In 2021, details of the second application were circulated to the Bower neighbourhood for comments. The consultation boundary was different from the previous application as the question was no longer if land should be protected for a bridge and the extension of Molly Banister Drive but rather where the bridge should be located in the Bower neighbourhood. The 2019 application had a potential impact on the southeast quadrant of the city whereas the 2021 application was specific to the Bower neighbourhood. 

Responses were evenly split between an arterial road versus a collector road. Generally speaking, those who preferred an arterial road believed a collector road would not be large enough to handle the additional traffic, whereas those who preferred a collector road believed that a collector road would lessen the environmental impact of a road crossing the creek. 

In addition, the majority of landowners believed that a bridge connecting to Molly Banister Drive would have the least impact on residential uses. Bennett Street was believed to be already congested with pedestrians crossing to the mall and transit hub, and with on-street parking. In addition, landowners believed that because Bennett Street does not carry through to Taylor Drive additional traffic would add to the congestion at Gaetz Avenue. Boyce Street was believed to be the most impactful to lower density residential and park spaces along the street. Additionally, it was noted that Boyce Street is often used for on-street parking.

How can I find out more information?

An information session has been scheduled for Wednesday, October 12, 2022 from 3:30 - 7:30 p.m. in the Frontier Room in the Prairie Pavilion at Westerner Park. This will be an opportunity to discuss the proposed changes with City staff and provide comments. Melcor will be in attendance to discuss design concepts for the future neighbourhood. The session is open to all members of the public and those in close proximity to the area have received a mailed notice. As the road extension is currently shown as a collector road, notices have been sent to nearby landowners most likely to use the road. 

If you are unable to attend but would like to view the material shared at the information session, starting on Friday, October 14, 2022, you will find a a link to the content here.

What are the next steps for this proposal?

It is likely that the proposed changes will be presented to Council for consideration in fall 2022:

Step 1: Council reviews a report and administration’s recommendation when considering First Reading. If First Reading is granted, the application moves onto step 2.

Step 2:  A Public Hearing is held where the public is given an opportunity to speak directly to Council about a proposed change. Public Hearings are advertised in the Friday edition of the Red Deer Advocate and all landowners within the consultation area will receive written notification of the Public Hearing. Once the Public Hearing is closed, the application moves onto step 3.

Step 3: Council considers Second and Third (final) Reading of the proposed changes.

Do you have comments?

There are two ways to provide comments.

  1. Online survey 
  2. Molly Banister Drive Extension Comment Sheet (pdf); Comment sheets will also be available at the information session for all attendees

Comment sheets can be submitted by:

  • Email: planning@reddeer.ca
  • Mail: Attention: Christi Fidek, City Planning & Growth, Box 5008, Red Deer, AB T4N 3T4
  • Drop off at the information session
  • Drop off at City Hall: Attention: Christi Fidek, City Planning & Growth, 4914-48 Ave, Red Deer, AB

It is optional to complete the survey or provide comments. The survey will be open until October 28 2022, this is also the last day to submit a comment sheet. All input provided will form part of the public record and will appear on a Council Agenda in the same format they are received. In accordance with the City’s Procedure Bylaw anonymous surveys or comments will not be forwarded to Council and personal information will not be redacted. 

Questions?

Please contact:
Christi Fidek
Senior Planner
(403) 406-8701
christi.fidek@reddeer.ca