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Ritchot Council Approves St. Adolphe Commercial Development, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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St Adolphe Property Crop
This property south of St. Adolphe has been rezoned commercial.

The south end of St. Adolphe may become a little busier after Ritchot’s council voted in favour last week of rezoning two lots from Agricultural Limited to Commercial General. The lots are located across Highway 200 from the Tourond Creek development.

Developer Luke Wiebe currently owns one of the lots, while the RM owns the other. Both lots were included in the rezoning proposal.

“Council and the administration agreed to look at the whole parcel as one,” explained CAO Mitch Duval. “There is a pipeline that does run through on the north side of the two parcels, so it kind of limits the opportunities available to whoever wishes to develop that. The municipality also wants to leave the option open to sell the land if there is an interest regarding commercial property.”

A few limiting factors came up at the meeting regarding how the property can be developed.

One of them is the question of how the properties will be accessed from the highway. Manitoba’s Department of Highways has said that any development there will need to have an egress and exit directly across from the existing intersection with Tourond Creek Drive. No second access point would be allowed.

This would effectively consolidate the amount of traffic along that part of the highway.

Tanya Waddell, from the RM’s planning administration, introduced an amendment which would make council’s approval of the bylaw subject to the preparation of a development agreement for the property. This way, council will have a little more oversight into what is eventually built there.

Council tackled the question of what type of commercial development would be possible.

“With the development agreement, council has a lot of control as to what’s happening,” said Mayor Chris Ewen. “If someone does end up buying the [RM’s] property, then there will also be a development agreement opportunity to review that as well. So there will always be an opportunity… to ensure the community and the municipality develops in the right way.”

Wiebe was in attendance to speak in favour of the new arrangement. He described his plans to construct a professional centre, retail shops, and/or industrial shops.

Numerous community members were in attendance to voice their concern about the zoning change. Many written objections were also submitted. Each was read into the public record.

A common concern had to do with the potential for increased traffic in the area—specifically, at the Tourond Creek intersection, which would now have vehicle traffic entering the highway from both the east and west sides.

“Traffic will now turn both left and right across from Tourond Creek,” said one community member. “I didn’t move out here to now deal with congested traffic.”

Others asked council to address the amount of unused commercial space already in existence in St. Adolphe.

“At this time, St. Adolphe has a glut of empty and undeveloped commercial space,” said one resident. “Do we need more?”

Still other residents said that they would rather see taxpayer dollars spent on more green space, parks, or community programs rather than supporting additional commercial development.

A few council members expressed support for more community green space, acknowledging that the Crow Wing Trail runs through or next to the lots in question. However, they also pointed out there are other locations in the community that have been set aside for green space. This property has never been set apart for that purpose.

“My thought would be, to the residents who have objections, it probably does look like green space right now,” said Councillor Curtis Claydon. “Even though it is zoned agricultural, you can see the Crow Wing Trail goes running through it. But on the other hand, we are also seeing other new green spaces develop throughout the community, and in Tourond Creek with the park there and the play structures for the children. It is important that we manage the development agreement properly.”

Councillor Janine Boulanger stood in opposition to the rezoning.

“You all know how I feel about St. Adolphe and business and commercial,” she said. “I’ve always felt it to be a bedroom community, and it thrives in that sense. As you heard from the objection letters, that’s why they moved to St. Adolphe, because it is that type of community. I’m on the fence on any of it… moving to commercial general. I think that little piece of land could be developed into something quite cute and quaint and beneficial to all the residents in that area.”

Mayor Ewen acknowledged the concerns of the residents, but he made a point of saying that the location is particularly well-suited to commercial development.

“There’s two points to this,” Mayor Ewen said. “We do have existing commercial space in St. Adolphe. I don’t disagree with that. Having said that, we have a developer here that purchased his land and is going to do something productive with the potential commercial space. I think that’s why this is a bit of a tricky situation for me. I see we’re actually getting some play in this community. As well as, St. Adolphe should have a Main Street with commercial opportunities and that section is right off Main Street. I think there should be commercial on both sections, specifically on the section if there is a developer wanting to do something. I see the objections, but I also think it’s meant to be there.”

The bylaw to rezone both lots to commercial was approved by a vote of four to one.

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