By COLLIN GALLANT on June 10, 2021.
The former site of the city’s solar-thermal power plant is the first choice to build a new BMX track, but tight timelines on federal grant money might mean it could head down the hill to what was the famed waterslide location, the city’s planning commission heard on Wednesday.
Two land-use amendments put forward this week on behalf of the parks department would see the two vacated parcels now zoned as utility districts changed to open space.
That would allow either to house a BMX “pump track” consisting of low- and high-rise bumps and banked corners to be built with $500,000 in federal grants offered this year as stimulus projects.
Parks official Jamie Macleod told the News the city still requires a reclamation certification from the Alberta Environment ministry for the former power plant site.
It is large enough to accommodate the track, more parking, a shade canopy and, potentially, new overflow sites for the neighbouring Gas City Campground. But the other site would be suitable also.
“It all comes down to timing (of the reclamation certificate),” he said of grant money that must be applied to projects completed by Dec. 31.
Both sites are south of the city’s river valley power plant – at the bottom and top of a hillside that alternately housed the slides until the late 2000s, and later the piping system between the solar plant and main boilers.
The top site is also near a dog park with dedicated parking and the campground, which planners see as complimentary uses.
Recreation facilities are a permitted use in “open space” districts, and both rezoning proposals will go to required public hearings next month.
If approved, planners would have the final say on development permits for the track project that was sent out for tenders last month.
The city recreation department would own and operate the facility, according to supporting documents.
The solar plant was decommissioned and removed last year after the city completed the terms of collecting data from the experimental site.
Macloed says the site is not considered a risk for heavy contamination, even though it was a utility plant, but is technically captured by regulations for environmental reclamation.
Four lots in the Coulee Ridge phase 1 subdivision overlap into different land classifications, the commission heard Wednesday – a likely result of quickly approving lot layout and the area structure plan.
As such as applications to re-zone slivers of the lots to proper designation were presented Wednesday and will need to go to full council meeting for approval.
The error was discovered by technical staff at the city last month, and the number of errors means they cannot be corrected administratively as errata.
None of the lots in the new subdivision that is now on the market have been sold, and no major errors were discovered.
“No foul, no harm,” said vice-chair, Coun. Darren Hirsch, who says city planning staff are often called upon to produce and approve plans quickly. “But it is a cautionary tale. There are reasons we have these steps and processes.”