I had an informative evening Tuesday at the Argyle Park Community centre attending the Argyle Park/Englewood extension concept plan application (09-CP-3) open house. The following are my impressions of the meeting and some information I took from it.
There are quite a few unique challenges facing this development; two key ones being a pipeline running along the south boundary and buffer zone emanating from Evraz refinery to the North East. The Evraz buffer area restricts residential land uses from being zoned within a kilometer of the refinery. Besides physical impediments, there is the effort to balance the desires of three landowners/developers involved in the project. The result of contrasting development goals and physical barriers is a proposal that contains all three main land use categories: residential, industrial and commercial.
Residential parcels will be geared towards middle-income people and reflect a similar income bracket found in Argyle Park/Englewood. Unlike some subdivisions this plan comes with a variety of residential densities in close proximity; single detached, town houses and then higher density walk-ups or apartments.
I spoke to one of the developers at the open house and he suggested the medium density (that’s classified in the concept plan as >25 units/hectare[u/ha] >50 u/ha ) could look like this:
The two-story town homes pictured are in Lakeridge along Child Avenue just West of the Superstore and were described as similar to the developers expectations for medium density. In the back ground of the above picture is a four-story high density structure under construction. Initially I thought high density might resemble this type of building, which you can often find near arterials in Regina. The developer I spoke with suggested that the high density would resemble these buildings on the right. These are also along Child Avenue, just across the street from the medium density example.
I think its important to reaffirm that no particulars on architecture were provided at the open house. Normally such decisions are made later with builders, investors and buyers rather than now by land owners/land developers. So while the above pictures provide some conceptual idea of type or density, the finished product may not be the same. Architectural controls also wildly vary depending on the neighbourhood and there was no mention of how much control would be exercised here.
The commercial development proposed in the concept plan should look like previously developed areas along Pasqua St. and Rochdale Blvd. The commercial areas are likely to be box stores or some type of car orientated development.
There is one contentious piece to the commercial application: the area east of the current Walmart and Capital car dealership is set aside for residential development in the official North West sector community plan (see page 51 for NW overview). The plan would have to be amended in council to allow commercial uses which, I was lead to believe, may not be a foregone conclusion.
An interesting part to this extension concept plan is the inclusion of industrial zones as a consequence of the Evraz refinery’s 1km buffer zone restricting residential development. The site boarders highway #11 to the North East and Pasqua St. to the West and that could allow for easy access to truck traffic. There is a light industrial area that separates residential and industrial portions. It might look similar to the northern edge of the Cathedral neighbourhood along Sask Dr. between Angus St. and Elphinstone St. In Bylaw 9250, Chapter 8, light industrial zones, IA/IA1, allow: “Manufacture of products mostly from previously prepared materials, of finished products and parts.” Some of the actions could be processing, fabrication, packaging or distribution of industrial products.
I had a good conversation with one of the landscape designers about park size and amenity. There are three small parks and one linear park/path currently in the plan. The wont be a lake but all the parks will act as water retention areas during high precipitation events (think Mike Badham Park near Grant Road School in Whitmore Park) and may use more natural plant species in the lowest areas to replicate natural conditions. The parks are small so there may not be space for playing fields, however, there are large parks at the schools in Argyle Park/Englewood with those amenities. One possibility mentioned for the northern most park, found in the light industrial area, was the possibility of ball diamonds, but that depended on the needs and set up of future light industrial users near by.
Lastly and what I feel is perhaps the most positive aspect of the concept plan is that the road system is orientated cardinally and is quite linear. This sound allow for good pedestrian connectivity between the different uses. There is 3-4 cul-de-sacs among the low density residential area but the majority of residential space will have back alleys and short block streets.