By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – A South Glens resident brought her and some of her neighbours’ concerns to Morinville Town Council Feb. 8, another step in a process that began in 2006 when she and her family moved to the new development.
Monique Webb said since moving to the community she has been calling the Town whenever there was concern about something happening or not happening in the neighbourhood but found she was often passed back and forth between the Town office and the developer. When the election campaign unfolded last fall, Webb and neighbour Gillian Percy decided to hold an all candidate’s forum in the community to ask those running for office questions about South Glens issues. The forum drew about 40 of her neighbours to listen to council hopefuls and ask questions about what they would do to fix some of the problems in the development.
Chief among resident concerns are seven specific items: a pathway connecting South Glens to Morinville proper, sidewalks that do not connect where residents feel they should, construction garbage being left behind, a lack of trees and green spaces in the community, flooding in the community playground, flooding in the storm pond area and some general concerns about the Town’s Municipal Development Plan (MDP).
Shortly after council was sworn in last fall, the new council requested administration to return with a report on South Glens concerns brought up during the campaign. Webb attended the Feb. 8 of Morinville Town Council meeting to hear what administration and council had to say on the matter but was given an opportunity to address council.
Webb told council the sidewalks in South Glens do not follow a logical pattern and that it is often necessary to cross the road to be able to get to the next stretch of sidewalk as sidewalks run only on one side of the road. The South Glens resident said she did not really notice the oddness of the sidewalks until she began teaching her son to cross the street and to stay on the sidewalk.
“We couldn’t walk the neighbourhood and stay on one side of the street,” she said. “It was really awkward.”
Webb lays the blame for the sidewalk situation and many of the community’s issues with Morinville’s MDP, which she said allows developers to put in minimum sidewalks and green spaces without trees and natural greenery.
Although she hopes Morinville will rectify the community’s concerns, she suggested that perhaps a partnership could be made with the Town of Morinville whereby residents would get donated trees and town staff would plant them.
It was a suggestion that appealed to Deputy Mayor Paul Krauskopf. “I like the idea of working together,” he said. “I’m sure we can build on that.”
Additionally, council has budgeted to create a pathway between South Glens and Morinville proper in the 2011 budget and the Town will be reviewing some of the community’s drainage issues with the developer this spring.
However, not all of Webb’s concerns are so easily remedied. Morinville’s Director of planning and Development Greg Hoffman said the storm pond was never intended as a public area and that the slope is substantially steeper than what would be the case for a public area. Hoffman explained Stage 4 of the development calls for a major storm water pond which will have park space planned around it.
Not all councillors were in agreement with just how much has been done or how much is yet to be done in South Glens.
Councillor Nicole Boutestein said she felt most of the South Glens issues had been addressed save the trees and looking at the MDP. “It’s not 100 per cent, but what was broken has been fixed,” she said.
Councillor David Pattison disagreed. “In each of the seven areas there are still actions to be taken to bring it up to standard,” Pattison said, adding he felt the MDP process could look at the livability factor of many Morinville neighborhoods. “I think south glen is endemic of the issues in our community overall.”
Webb said she was pleased to hear Morinville will be building a proper trail connecting South Glens to Morinville proper, but she still has some reservations about the ongoing development.
“I think the overall tone is the Municipal Development Plan needs to be changed, and I think that it’s sad that we can hand over so much control to a developer so quickly and then basically have little recourse to change it,” Webb said after the meeting. “As a resident, I think requiring a developer to put in things like garbage cans, benches and trees in public spaces, as well as conjoining sidewalks, is a fairly minimal thing to ask of a developer. I think doing that is something that needs to be addressed because there’s out little South Glens issues that are specific to our site, but the problem stems from the bigger issue of not having an ongoing theme and long-term plan for Morinville’s development.”
Morinville is currently undergoing a review of its Municipal Development Plan.