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Rezoning of the land targeted for the Fraser Place residential land development has been approved by Hay River town council.

During its March 29 online meeting, council passed third and final reading of the bylaw to rezone the land from institutional and parks to residential, clearing the way for the creation of 29 residential building lots.

Mayor Kandis Jameson and a couple of councillors took the opportunity to tout the benefits of the controversial project, which will be built in part of a wooded area unofficially referred to by some people as the Hay River Nature Park.

“This area has been identified for over 15 years by councils,” said Jameson. “It is easily developed at a relatively low cost. It uses existing infrastructure.”

She noted that council has received a lot of questions about the proposed Sundog land development near the Hay River Regional Health Centre.

“Sundog would need a lift station. So the cost and the time, we’d be looking at another four or five years, and the cost is probably three or four times more than what it would cost us to develop Fraser Place,” she said.

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Jameson said Fraser Place is the first step to address the short-term housing needs of the community.

“Through the community consultation phase and general feedback received to date, council and administration both feel that we have a design that preserves the majority of the habitat in the area and also preserves the existing and valued nature trail system,” she said.

The mayor noted the town currently has no residential-zoned properties in inventory and there is very little housing available for sale on the private market, while the town is positioned for economic growth.

Sundog too costly

Coun. Steve Anderson said he would rather see development of Sundog, but it is too costly and not doable at this time.

Anderson noted town administration has done what it can do to preserve trails at Fraser Place.

“So the plan looks good to me and we’ve had some good feedback from community members with regards to the plan, which is really encouraging,” he said.

Coun. Brian Willows said he supports the rezoning bylaw.

“We’re not always going to be able to please everyone, but I think administration and council have gone a long way in hearing what the concerns are and have gone a very long way in trying to address the concerns around the trails,” Willows said. “And I think that they have developed a plan that is pleasing to the eye and still maintains the environment and the trails, and the ability for people to recreate in that area. So I think it’s a good compromise all the way around and I think it’s a good project for the community.”

Mike Auge, the town’s director of public works, told the council meeting that tree removal should begin in April.

Auge added that a consultant is working on the detailed design of the Fraser Place project, and it should soon be ready to go out for tender.

At a March 17 public consultation on the proposed rezoning, a number of people voiced opposition to the Fraser Place development, which will be primarily designed for single-family housing units.

The objections included the effects on the natural environment, the possibility of cost overruns, whether the lots would actually sell, increased traffic in the area, whether $3 million is a reasonable estimate for the cost of the development, and many other concerns.

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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