East Hill MASP Amendment: Molly Banister Drive

The City has received an application to amend two development plans in the East Hill area. Melcor, the developer of the area, is requesting that the Municipal Development Plan (MDP) and the East Hill Major Area Structure Plan (MASP) be amended by removing the Molly Banister Drive protected roadway alignment (extension of Molly Banister Drive to 40 Avenue) from the plans. This amendment would remove the potential for this road to be developed in the future.

Background information

What is the amendment that was proposed by the developer?

The MDP and East Hill MASP currently contain a protected alignment on the property identified in the image below (NE 4-38-27-4) for a potential future extension of Molly Banister Drive. This roadway extension would connect east of Bremner Avenue to the intersection of 40 Avenue and 22 Street. The intent of the developer application is to remove this roadway from both documents.

Map showing proposed extension of Molly Banister Drive

Figure 1:  Protected Roadway Alignment Molly Banister

What is the history of the Molly Banister Drive Extension?

The discussion of whether or not Molly Banister Drive should be extended has been a recurring topic for many years. The Molly Banister Drive extension 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 extension; however, neighbouring residents protested the extension and asked Council to eliminate it, which Council did. In 2003, Administration asked Council to include the Molly Banister Drive extension in the 2003/2004 Transportation Plan Update. Council granted the request and in 2005, Council approved amendments to the East Hill MASP that showed the protected alignment.

How is the alignment currently shown in the MDP and East Hill MASP?

The extension of Molly Banister Drive is shown as “alignment protection” in the MDP and East Hill MASP. The text in the East Hill MASP outlines:

“The Molly Banister Drive alignment protection serves to ensure that the planning of the NE ¼ Section 4 accommodates this roadway alignment into the neighbourhood design without adversely affecting any future decisions regarding a possible roadway crossing over Piper Creek. This does not necessarily imply that Molly Banister Drive will be extended across Piper Creek, and any such decision would require Council approval. If the protected alignment for Molly Banister Drive between 40 Avenue and Bremner Avenue is ever implemented, this will be an arterial roadway with a 43m right-of-way width from 40 Avenue to Piper Creek.”

 

What kind of roadway is shown in the East Hill MASP?

The Molly Banister Drive alignment proposed in the East Hill MASP shows a four lane arterial roadway, similar to Taylor Drive or 30 Avenue, running parallel to the Piper Creek Ravine and would require a bridge spanning about 200 to 250 meters in length.

What are the environmental impacts?

If the alignment was retained or removed, the Piper Creek corridor could be protected as a future park resource for residents as a natural area, to retain the existing site biodiversity and preserve the area as a wildlife habitat and corridor. Retaining the alignment would include requiring the future bridge over Piper Creek to be constructed to take into account wildlife, existing and proposed trail systems, and minimizing or avoiding impact to the creek itself.

Is there a compromise between having an arterial road and having no road?

In September 2020, administration had presented an option to Council that considered a collector road with a smaller bridge crossing over Piper Creek. Collector roads are not built to accommodate the same level of traffic as arterial roads. A collector road would also have a lesser impact on the environment as it takes up less space. Council did not give first reading to this option, and proceeded with first reading on removing the arterial roadway from the plans, consistent with Melcor’s proposal.

Arterial road: An arterial road is a higher capacity road that carries longer distance traffic flows. These can include four lanes or more.
Collector road: A collector road is a more typical residential road with low to moderate capacity.

Had Council chosen the option outlined above, which includes having a collector road instead of an arterial road in the plans, where would the collector road and creek crossing be located?

Collector roads are not shown in the East Hill Major Area Structure Plan as they are determined at the Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan stage where the neighbourhood design is determined. A location for a creek crossing would have also been determined at the next stage of development, the Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan.

What kind of an impact on traffic would building Molly Banister as a collector road (versus an arterial road) have on 32 Street and 19 Street?

At a population of 188,000, construction of Molly Banister Drive as an arterial road is estimated to decrease traffic on 32 Street by 20 per cent; whereas, it is estimated that a collector road would decrease traffic on 32 Street by six to eight per cent. 19 Street traffic would decrease approximately 25 per cent if constructed as an arterial road and 10 per cent to 14 per cent if constructed as a collector road.

Can Council still opt for a compromised plan as outlined above?

At this point a public hearing has been scheduled for the amendment as proposed by Melcor. Should Council wish to proceed in another direction after the public hearing, a new public hearing would be scheduled and advertised.

How do I provide input to this application?

Details on how to participate in the Public Hearing will be located on The City’s Public Hearing page. Please check it periodically for updates.

What happens when 32 Street and 19 Street reach their capacity?

Due to right of way constraints, impact to adjacent properties, and environmental considerations, any further upgrades to 32 Street would be limited to intersection capacity improvements.

19 Street upgrades would consist of widening to six lanes, with improvements needed to the intersections between Gaetz Avenue and 40 Avenue, and improvements required at 40 Avenue and Gaetz Avenue. A multi-lane lane roundabout would be considered at 40 Avenue and improvements to Gaetz Avenue will require further study. The 2006 study identified the need for a flyover to accommodate southbound to eastbound traffic, however this option was considered prior to completion of the Gaetz Avenue interchange and any future changes to Westerner Park grounds, so would need to be revisited.

19 Street would also need to be widened to six lanes between 40 Avenue and 20 Avenue with a multi-lane roundabout considered at 30 Avenue and a future interchange considered at 20 Avenue.

Will improvements/upgrades 19 Street be enough to meet traffic demand at the 188,000 population horizon?

Understanding that travel patterns, growth trends and technology change over time, administration continually monitors and assesses the city transportation network. Improvements to 19 Street will be required between eight to 10 years prior to the 188,000 population horizon. Widening 19 Street has very limited impact in reducing traffic volumes on 32 Street. Once 19 Street improvements are completed, they will be able to accommodate traffic volumes at the 188,000 population horizon and beyond.

Are there plans for 32 Street to be upgraded to six lanes?

In 2005, Council rejected a transportation proposal to widen 32 Street to six lanes. There are no existing plans widen to six lanes in the future.

When developed, will there be more than one access to the neighbourhood?

Yes, as per the Neighbourhood Planning and Design Standards, for safety reasons there must be more than one access point into a neighbourhood. After a decision is made on these proposed amendments, the next stage in the planning process is to prepare a neighbourhood area structure plan (NASP) which will lay out where roads, access points, land uses will go. There is a public consultation process that will take place, administrative review and an ultimate decision of Council including a public hearing. Additional studies including traffic may be required.

When developed, how much land will be preserved as natural space?

Land surrounding the creek and escarpment will be preserved as environmental reserve, which must be left in its natural state. The developer will be required at the Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan stage to provide a geotechnical study showing which land is to be left as environmental reserve. In addition, new neighbourhoods are required to provide 10 percent of the developable land as municipal reserve. This land would accommodate active and passive park space.

Has The City updated the Southeast Sector Traffic Study with new data since it was completed in 2006?

No. In June 2020, administration had recommended that the study be updated to include new information pertaining to the extension of Molly Banister Drive; however, Council at that time did not approve the request as they determined the current data was still relevant.

What are the projections for population growth in the city?

The city is not expected to reach a population of 188,000 for another 34 years, or in 2054. The 188,000 population horizon is beyond the estimated development of all the lands within the city’s current boundary. The East Hill Major Area Structure Plan identifies the lands in the southeast of Red Deer as the final phase of development. It is not until this area is completely developed that there would be a need for Molly Banister Drive.

How many homes is Melcor proposing to develop?

Neighbourhood design would be determined at the Neighbourhood Area Structure Plan stage. The number of people living in the neighbourhood will depend on the mix of housing types (multi-family to single family), amount of road and park space that is allocated.

When would the site be developed?

Following a Council decision, Melcor would move into neighbourhood design of the area. Future consultation on the neighbourhood design would occur at the time of neighbourhood area structure plan submission. The timing for construction of future dwellings would depend on market demand.

Will there be a plebiscite on whether or not the protected alignment for Molly Banister Drive should be removed?

Council has considered this option at first reading on September 14 and voted not in favour of going in this direction. The public hearing is open for anyone wishing to address Council on this matter.