A report regarding the future of Molly Banister Drive extension returns to Council on Monday for first reading. In the report, administration is recommending Council remove the protected alignment from the development plans. This means, the roadway would come out of the plans, and development of the area could continue without holding space for this road to be developed at some point in the future.
The Molly Banister alignment was projected to be required when the population of Red Deer reaches 188,000, which is estimated to be in about 30 years, in 2050.
“This road alignment has had a long history before Council and the community, we are ready to find a resolution to ease the uncertainty for the surrounding residents and the community,” said Tara Lodewyk, General Manager of Planning and Development Services. “Our recommendation is based on the fact that Red Deer’s beautiful parks and natural green spaces are well known throughout Alberta and are shown to be one of the greatest contributors to high quality of life and enhance tourism opportunities.”
Currently, the plans show the protected alignment as a four lane undivided arterial road, similar to 22 Street, from 30 Avenue to 40 Avenue, bisecting Piper Creek. Removing the protected alignment would remove this potential road as an option to accommodate traffic in the city’s southeast when the population of Red Deer is about 188,000 people. With the removal of Molly Banister, this would shift up the timing for improvements to 19 Street to accommodate traffic.
In the fall of 2019, The City received an application to amend two development plans in the East Hill area. Melcor, the developer of the area, requested 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.
In December, landowners, residents, and business owners were asked whether they support a proposed amendment to remove the protection of a roadway for the future extension of Molly Banister Drive. An online survey garnered more than 1,700 responses and landowners who were within the area of the proposed extension mailed back more than 190 surveys.
“The public was almost evenly split on the issue. The two key concerns resulting from the survey were traffic and environmental impacts of both building and not building the road,” said Lodewyk. “While these are both important concerns, the tipping point was that Red Deer’s identity is built upon our largest asset - our unparalleled Waskasoo Parks system. Leaders before us had the foresight and vision in their decision-making, and this is another future building decision.”
The survey responses provide Council with the diverse perspectives of the community in order to help them make a decision when this item comes before them for review. The survey was for information gathering, and was not an official vote on the matter.
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, and approved amendments to the East Hill Major Area Structure Plan (MASP) that showed the protected alignment.
At the June 8, 2020 council meeting, administration presented a report asking for Council’s direction on how to proceed with the Molly Banister amendment application. A report was presented with two options; one was to update the existing 2006 Southeast Sector Traffic Study to determine whether the recommended options from the 2006 study were still the best options, and to develop an environmental impact assessment for the natural areas. The second was for administration to come back with a recommendation based on existing traffic and environmental data. Council directed administration to proceed with the second option.
If Council proceeds with first reading, a public hearing will occur on October 26. More information can be found at www.reddeer.ca/mollybanister.
For more information, please contact:
Communications & Strategic Planning
The City of Red Deer