May 18th, 2024

Residents oppose park development plan


By Lethbridge Herald on April 30, 2024.

Chandra Deaust, president of the London Road Neighbourhood Association, says the association is opposed to a City plan to put housing at London Road Park which would make the green space even smaller than it is. Herald photo by Al Beeber

Al Beeber – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – abeeber@lethbridgeherald.com

A proposal to put medium-density residential housing in a section of a downtown park is being greeted with opposition by neighbourhood residents.

 Opportunity Lethbridge has applied to rezone the southwest corner of London Road Park and the adjacent property to enable development in line with London Road Area Redevelopment Plan policy. 

If Direct Control bylaw 6438 gets city council’s blessing with second and third readings this month, then the park would be reduced in size by 26.8 per cent, or 634 square metres.

Council gave first reading to the bylaw at its April 23 meeting.

“In 2018, the LRARP identified options to improve residents’ concerns about safety in London Road Park. One option was to redevelop the isolated, south-west corner of the park along with the adjacent property (714 – 7 Street South) to provide medium-scaled residential facing the remainder of the park. This would provide “eyes on the park” and enable the remainder of the park to be better utilized,” says a report recently submitted to council.

It says the redevelopment plan was developed over years of engagement with the neighbourhood and “sets out a vision and policy for London Road Park and surrounding properties. This identified issues with ‘the park being viewed by the community as an unsafe space that attracts unwanted uses.’ It called for  ‘altering the park design to improve clear sight lines and visibility into the park, while eliminating isolated or hidden spaces within the park, and… encouraging development that provides increased “eyes on the park.’”

One property adjacent to the park, 714 7 St. S., was left intact when the park was created in the 1990s, which resulted in the green space being an L shape with the southwest corner being out of sight and isolated “which is further exacerbated by the presence of a berm in the park which partially blocks sight lines between the south-west corner of the park and public sidewalks to the north and east,” says the report.

If the bylaw is approved, the a housing development would fill the space occupied by the existing home and that “out of sight” green space.

Some residents oppose the plan, however.

Chandra Deaust, president of the London Road Neighbourhood Association, says that organization is strongly opposed to the redevelopment plan of what is known as a pocket park.

The association feels urban park space is vital to the city and that increased green space would be more beneficial to the community than a housing development.

She said the space is much-needed in the London Road area and there are other properties in the neighbourhood which could be utilized for redevelopment instead.

A public hearing will be held on the land use amendment May 28 at 3 p.m. in council chambers.

“Is this perfect? No. It’s not. The shape of it makes it really awkward and it sort of makes it enticing for some negative traffic,” said Deaust at the park this week. 

But the first option in the area redevelopment plan is to buy the property at 714 7 St. S. and consolidate it into the park, said Deaust.

“It makes this park a little more functional.”

The association also recommended to the City in a letter that it fund expansion of the park “and make it more functional and usable and maybe put some playground equipment. Entice some positive use,” said Deaust. That playground equipment would make a world of difference to the park, she added, noting that information provided to the association states that the park currently can’t accommodate such equipment safely due its size and proximity to the street.

A housing development at the site won’t fix existing problems but rather move them to other areas, said Deaust.

“We don’t see it as a long-term solution.”

Instead of taking the opportunity to expand London Road park, “it seems backwards from what we should be doing for an area that’s well populated and needs green spaces.”

While the association of volunteers is fighting on behalf of area residents, it needs more people supporting opposition to the bylaw, Deaust.

“We’re trying to make our neighbourhood a better place and I think green space is part of that,” said Deaust.

London Road Park is one of three in the neighbourhood, the others being Kiwanis and Kinsmen.

“Not that we have anything against development, we don’t,” said Deaust. But there are other lots zoned for medium density development in the area, she added.

In her letter to the City, Deaust wrote “park space per capita in our neighbourhood is disproportionately small compared to most Lethbridge neighborhoods. The removal of any park space, along with the addition of multi-unit housing  would skew that ratio even further down. While we don’t deny London Road Park,in its current form, attracts unwanted uses, we do not believe that this proposed development solves the problem. It potentially pushes it to another area or another park.”

“While we understand the need for urban development and housing solutions, we believe that this particular proposal underemphasizes the crucial role that green spaces and parks play in the urban environment and the well-being of its residents,” her letter adds.

Removing the house edging the park would increase clear sight lines and visibility into the back southwest corner of the park and eliminated the isolated space that is impacted by negative use, The LRNA believes.

“Once a greenspace is lost, it is often impossible to regain,” said Deaust’s letter to the City.

The City report states “the proposed DC Bylaw 6438 would establish permitted and discretionary uses as well as development standards. The rules are based partly on the R-75 (Medium Density Residential) district, and include ‘Dwelling, Apartments’ and ‘Dwelling, Townhouse’ as permitted uses. The list of discretionary uses includes ‘Child Care, Minor’, ‘Neighbourhood Facility’ and ‘Group Homes.’This list of allowable uses is intended to facilitate the redevelopment of the site to fulfil the vision of the LRARP, with a townhouse and/or apartment development along the south edge of the remainder of the park.”

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Morberis

I agree with her. The park should not be converted into residential. Honestly behind the berm is my favourite part of the park. In the summer I go back there to hang out in privacy and enjoy weather.

Montreal13

The front page hmm. Can’t remember other neighborhoods getting this coverage for similar and or land use issues. Are you running for council next year,Al?



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