Huge proposed Bearspaw shopping-residential complex rejected by Rocky View County

The planned development on edge of northwest Calgary would have included 883 housing units and a 50-acre retail space anchored by a major grocer.

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After years of amendments and opposition to it, a large commercial-residential complex that would have perched on Calgary’s northwest boundary has been soundly rejected by Rocky View County.

Ascension, a 275-acre tract proposed for Highway 1A and 12-Mile Coulee Road unanimously failed to achieve land re-designation approval from county lawmakers Thursday following two days of submissions from area residents nearly all in opposition to it.

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Highfield Investment Group’s plan that included 883 housing units and a 50-acre retail space anchored by a major grocer to be located immediately adjacent to northwest Calgary’s Tuscany community was too much for Rocky View residents who argued it would have disrupted their rural-residential lifestyle.

“The councillors asked very relevant questions and obviously they didn’t get the answers they wanted,” Blueridge Estates resident Todd Millar said following the 7-0 vote.

“We’ve been saying all the way along there were major concerns that really weren’t thought out and I don’t want to just say that about the developer but about county administrators, too.

“We’re in good spirits.”

For opponents, those concerns included vastly increased traffic on an already crowded 12 Mile Coulee Road, exceedingly high housing density, insufficient sewage infrastructure, impacts on wildlife and local school capacity.

“When you have 20,000 vehicles per day, that’s 100 per cent city-type traffic,” said Millar who insisted residents aren’t opposed to the site being developed.

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“You’ll have to find a development plan that’s a transitional plan — one-acre (housing) parcels would have been acceptable . . . I imagine another developer will materialize and that would be welcome.”

The proposal attracted massive community interest with nearly 600 video, written and oral submissions being presented to council, the vast majority opposed to it.

Ascension in Rocky View County

Development ran afoul of Rocky View County land use plan, residents say

County administration had recommended council approve the land redesignation.

Millar maintained Ascension — whose conceptual scheme had been approved by the county and the Calgary Metropolitan Regional Board — didn’t conform to the county’s land use plan.

The developer contended its vision would have offered an ideal transition between city and rural-residential with lower-density housing, green spaces, pathways and a 400,000 sq.-ft. main street-style retail marketplace.

Highfield Investment Group also noted the areas to the east and south have already been built up and added it had agreed to upgrade the Crowchild Trail interchange and build a traffic circle on 12 Mile Coulee Road to the south.

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Company officials said they’d made changes to their proposals to reflect the concerns of nearby residents in a consultation process that dates back to 2022.

But county Reeve Crystal Kissel, who represents the area, said that interchange was a sticking point because it lacks the space to develop an overpass, while there are no plans to build one.

“The province has no consideration in the future to put in an overpass,” she said.

Concerns over the proposal go well beyond transportation, ranging from a residential density considerably greater than neighbouring Blueridge Estates to those surrounding waste water routing.

“The densities were a huge problem, especially when all there is is a road in between (Ascension) and Blueridge,” said Kissel.

“There were just too many unanswered questions as to this being the right development for this site . . . that 7-0 vote speaks for itself.

“Council made their decision based on what we heard . . . (councillors) hadn’t made their decision ahead of Thursday.”

Kissel said Highfield officials probably learned a considerable amount about what a successful application would look like, adding it’s possible they or another company could offer an amended vision for the site.

“Everyone knows now what the expectations are for people who buy into Rocky View County,” she said.

“The community wants to work with the developer — they know that land will be developed.”

A representative for Highfield couldn’t be reached for comment Friday.

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X (Twitter) @BillKaufmannjrn

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