Skip to content

Councillors defeat bylaw amendment to re-zone green space to high density residential district

Residents on 102 Street ask town to find other options for additional housing
Westlock resident Karla Rowe was one of several to speak out against the Consolidated Land Use Bylaw 2022-12, Amendment Bylaw 2024-03 during a public hearing at the March 11 regular council meeting. The bylaw amendment would have seen a green space on 102 Street in Westlock re-zoned from PR-parks and recreation to R3-High Density Residential for additional housing. After hearing residents speak on the bylaw, which included emotional pleas to consider other options, due to ongoing issues with flooding and the town’s wastewater system, councillors defeated the bylaw at second reading and will have administration bring the matter back to council at a later date after re-considering options and revaluating the town’s sanitary capacity and storm (water) infiltration system. Kristine Jean/WN

WESTLOCK — Some Westlock residents at a public hearing were overcome with emotion while pleading with the town to consider other options for additional housing, at a public hearing during the March 11 regular council meeting.

Councillors were hearing from residents prior to deciding the fate of the proposed changes to the land use bylaw, which they ultimately defeated 7-0 at the second reading, after listening to concerns raised by several homeowners along 102 Street.

“Administration identified the vacant park lot on 102 Street as a potential location for high-density residential development in response to the recent need for additional housing and land to accommodate it,” said chief administrative officer Simone Wiley.  

Director of Planning and Development Danielle Pougher provided some details about the proposed change and re-zoning, and noted that the amendment to the land use bylaw would re-district the property (Lot R, Block 6, Plan 4035 NY) from PR-Parks and Recreation District to R3-High Density Residential District and that the proposed property is currently being used as an open green space. 

“That (R3) district currently allows for housing types such as townhomes, stacked townhomes and apartment buildings. There are few options currently available in town for land to fit the requirements for the desired type of housing that has recently been identified,” said Pougher.

During the public hearing, four letters against the bylaw amendment were distributed, while one letter from Oakridge Investments was included with the agenda package and one letter received after hours on March 11 was read aloud by Pougher. Representatives from Oakridge Investments and several other residents along 102 Street, spoke out against the bylaw and shared concerns of flooding and the town’s wastewater system and their impacts on homes in the area over several years.

One of them was Karla Rowe, who was very emotional when sharing her concerns and referenced a letter she wrote to the town, detailing the devastation and damage caused by several flooding incidents.   

“This is dear to my heart,” said Rowe, holding back tears. “The town needs additional high-density and multi-family housing to achieve affordable housing targets. However, re-zoning park reserves to R3 residential on 102 Street does not achieve a balance between density and residents’ quality of life.”  

She shared concerns over the loss of green space for families and their pets and in addition to the “over-densification” of 102 Street, as well as concerns over the town’s wastewater system.

“The wastewater system in this area is already insufficient for the number of existing homes on 102 Street between 104 and 106 Ave. We all know that,” she said. “Many homeowners have faced stormwater backups and flooding in our homes due to the strain on the system,” Rowe added, noting home insurance premiums “have gone through the roof” due to numerous claims for damage caused by floods and sewer backups. She also pointed out it’s not just the financial strain but the stress and uncertainty every time there is a heavy rainfall.

“On numerous occasions, we have been out in the street clearing the storm drain when it rains to alleviate the buildup of  water, flooding in the street and potential backups in our home,” she said, noting that the re-zoning park reserves along 102 Street for multi-family residential development and removing  green space that homeowners and tenants use, does not “foster or promote social well-being, quality of life or a resilient community.”

She and other residents asked the town to reconsider re-zoning the area and seek other options.

Following the public hearing, councillors asked several questions and inquired about available options to Wiley, who noted they could proceed with second reading and table third reading until more information was available.

“The last thing anyone wants to do is compound any issues that residents are seeing today,” said Wiley, noting before proceeding, they will want to ensure they have the sewer modelling done, have options available for councillors and know what the capacity of the sanitary (system) is and what the extent of the storm infiltration (system) is as well.

Wiley said the matter will return to council at a later date, once more information and options are available.

[email protected]        

Kristine Jean

About the Author: Kristine Jean

Kristine Jean joined the Westlock News as a reporter in February 2022. She has worked as a multimedia journalist for several publications in Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta, and enjoys covering community news, breaking news, sports and arts.
Read more


push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks