Morinville – Residents and business owners are being invited to an open house Wednesday night that will offer information on two projects critical to future economic development in Morinville’s downtown core. The Coeur de Morinville Area Structure Plan (ASP) and Highway 642 Functional Planning Study Joint Open House is set to run Sept. 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30pm at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre.
Participants will have the opportunity to see plans for what Highway 642 (100 Avenue) could look like 30, 50 and 70 years down the road as well as view two options for the more immediate plans for the provincial highway.
Both the Coeur de Morinville ASP and Highway 642 Functional Planning Study are connected projects and play a role in the future development of Morinville’s downtown area.
Consultant Project Manager Vickie Dodge said the functional study looks at the technical aspects of creating a plan for Highway 642 that meets both the needs of the community in terms of economic development and the needs of Alberta Transportation in providing a provincial highway.
The plan takes a technical look at right of ways, intersection treatments, and access management, the latter a key component to anyone looking to develop along 100 Avenue.
“That [the functional study] is connected to the area structure plan because the look and the feel and the function of the road is directly related to the kinds of policies and guidelines that we can create in the policy document of the area structure plan,” Dodge explained. “One feeds the other, and we’ve informed the engineering team of the functional planning study what our vision is, in general terms, for a downtown, pedestrian-friendly, slower traffic street. All of those things that make a vibrant downtown.”
The open house will begin with a brief update on the Coeur de Morinville Area Structure Plan which was unveiled this past summer in another open house. The seession will then flow into a presentation with Al-Terra Engineering who have been working on the Highway 642 Functional Study Plan.
Dodge said the engineers will present two technically-feasible options for the highway, neither of which she is prepared to disclose ahead of Wednesday’s session.
“The discussion that wants to unfold is how do we evaluate which of these technically-feasible options will be best suited for Downtown Morinville,” she said, adding there are pros and cons to each.
Alberta Transportation working with community
One of the key messages put forth in the last open house related to Downtown Morinville was the existing condition that 100 Avenue is a provincial highway. As such, development on the street requires working with the Town of Morinville and the province.
“Alberta Transportation is the planning authority, and right now whoever wants to develop on this road has two tiers of approval to go through,” Dodge said. “You have to get approval from the town from the land use planning point of view because we regulate land use, but they also want to get approval from Alberta Transportation in terms of access and roadside development. That’s where people were running into trouble.”
Access management along provincial highways is quite restrictive. Town of Morinville Planner Tim Vrooman said because there is no plan at the provincial level for this stretch of highway, the province defaults to the standard plan. “That’s why they need to take five-metre and 10-metre allowance for that standard,” Vrooman explained. “We’re solving that piece and trying to accommodate the existing right of way.”
The province’s conventional plan is similar to what would be used on an open stretch of highway. However, Dodge said the province is philosophically supporting the project and an active partner at the table. “They’re at the table. They’re part of the project review committee, so they have had input into what’s going on right from the beginning.”
Downtown plan not revitalization plan
The Coeur de Morinville Area Structure Plan, although a briefer part of the evening, will be discussed in terms of its role with the functional plan. Dodge reiterated that plan is not an attempt to force businesses to redo store fronts.
“There may still be a perception out there that Coeur de Morinville Area Structure Plan is a beautification plan in and of itself,” Dodge said, adding it is more a policy document to deal with future development in the downtown area.
Residents and businesses can learn full details on both plans Sept. 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Morinville Community Cultural Centre. More information is available at morinville.ca/town-government/planning-and-development/community-planning/coeur-de-morinville.