Rezoning Compromises Seniors' Safety

A year ago, I wrote a column on a Council decision to turn down a request by Bethel Land Corp to build a seniors residence beside the Synergy Wellness Centre. The location falls within our Heavy Industrial Overlay Zone.

The medical centre is permitted in this industrial buffer zone but a seniors' residence requires a change in the Municipal Development Plan from Heavy Industrial to High Density Residential. Given the risks of emissions, fires and explosions, international standards recommend a transition zone between industrial and residential. Typically, municipalities allow commercial and other land uses that do not have residents living in the buffer zone.

On May 29, 2012, Strathcona County administration brought in experts in industrial risk assessments who urged Council not to allow residential development in the transition zone. Several members of industry including the Strathcona Industrial Association gave further evidence against the application. Emergency Services, Planning and Development, and Economic Development and Tourism were Strathcona County Departments that recommended Council not approve the request to allow residential housing to be built in the industrial buffer zone.  Further, experts indicated that the international standards were under review and would likely result in the need to increase the size of buffer zones not allow residential units to encroach on the existing lines.

Thankfully, Council agreed with my strong urgings not to proceed with Bylaw 22-2012 which would have seen a change in land use to put our vulnerable elders in the heavy industry zone.

Less than thirteen months later, developers are coming back to Council to ask for an exemption for them to build a seniors' residence in a heavy industry buffer zone. 

Link to June 17/13 Sherwood Park News article.

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commented 2013-06-24 19:32:36 -0600 · Flag
Why does Council entertain an application that was rejected for a solid reason – the health and well-being of our seniors!!??? Perhaps the pillars of societal planning need to emphasize the SOCIAL aspects over the ECONOMIC… they won’t tumble over if we focus on what’s good for our community instead of what makes money.
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