Some Moose Jaw residents are raising concerns about the impacts of a proposed housing development.
The River Park Pointe development would see more than 100 residential units, a mix of condo, duplex and single family homes, built on a privately owned property just north of the Moose Jaw River.
Charles Vanden Broek owns the property. He says more than 65 per cent of the proposed 26 acre development would be green-space, with publicly accessible walking trails and a water retention pond, adding the project architects, Alvin Reinhard Fritz Architect Inc., specializes in properties like this, built on flood fringe areas.
“We want people to have access to this property,” Vanden Broek said. “It’s not a gated community. Never was intended to be a gated community. We want people in the area to be able to enjoy it, open it up and make it so that it's an addition to Wakemow Park, something more for people to go down there and see.”
Vanden Broek said he has been working with Moose Jaw City administrators for more than a year, gathering reports on the environmental, archeological, and hydrological impacts of the proposed development, which is still in the conceptual stage.
The project was first brought to Moose Jaw City Council at its meeting on September 21st. Vanden Broek needs council approval to go ahead with the project since the land is currently designated as community service /parks /River Valley conservation, in the Official Community Plan (OCP.) Council voted to hold a public consultation on the proposed changes to the OCP.
“We believed it was important to ensure that we had all the corrected information back to Council in the community. It's a very sensitive issue we want to make sure that everybody has lots of opportunity to comment and bring their concerns forward,” said City Manager, Jim Puffalt.
On October 5, Moose Jaw city council decided to extend the public consultation period into the New Year.
That will give concerned area residents like Caron Berg more time to offer their concerns over the proposed development.
Berg grew up beside the Moose Jaw River Valley and still lives in her family home. She says the Wakamow Valley Park, adjacent to Vanden Broek’s land, is a favourite spot for outdoor recreation, especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It would just be too bad to see that changed, and I just feel that some beauty should be left untouched,” Berg said.
Caron Berg's "Leave our Valley Alone" Facebook page has nearly 1,000 members. (Morgan Campbell/CTV News)
She started a Facebook group called “Leave our Valley Alone,” which has nearly 1,000 members. She also created an online petition for other residents to express their desire to keep the area as natural as possible.
“I just really encourage everybody to get letters in, and really just don't give up,” Berg said.
Todd Johnson, General Manager with the Wakamow Valley Authority, shares Berg’s misgivings. While not opposed to development in the area, Johnson worries this project will add to already substantial spring flooding issues in the River Valley.
“Water will be directed further downstream towards the bridges, we already have, the playgrounds, all the infrastructure we have down further east of this project. And so that's really why we're wondering about it. And also, there's a liability within the park of flooding and ice jams,” Johnson said.
No date has been set for the public consultation, it will be held after the municipal elections, so the group of counselors making the decision is also up in the air.