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Treatment centre, truck stop hearing ends

MD of Willow Creek concluded Wednesday a public hearing to gather input on a by-law to re-zone land for a proposed truck stop and treatment centre just west of Granum.
The proposal is to re-zone land at NE-36-10-27-4 from rural general to rural commercial and rural recreation.
About 29 acres would be rural commercial for a market square and truck stop, about 17 acres would be rural recreation for a ball diamond and the addiction healing centre would be on the existing rural general land.
The development is proposed by the Gilead Foundation.
An initial hearing was held on June 23 to gather input, but after concerns were raised that Alberta Transportation had not responded and others may be interested in providing input, council decided to recess the hearing to July 14.
The hearing was recessed again on July 14 to send the project’s area structure plan to Alberta Transportation for comment before making a decision on the re-zoning.
On Wednesday MD of Willow Creek chief administrative officer Cynthia Vizzutti read a letter from Alberta Transportation pointing out that Township Road 110 at the intersection of Highway 2 requires some modifications to accommodate the increased traffic.
The changes recommended by the developer are acceptable and can be reviewed at the development agreement stage of the process.
Ruthanne Koyama, an adjacent land owner, then spoke in opposition of the proposed re-zoning.
Koyama outlined concerns including increased noise; increased traffic; light pollution from lights being on all the time at the truck stop; possible unsavory activities that would put added stress on emergency services; and increased waste and water management services.
Koyama also said the truck stop introduces unnecessary competition locally; the services offered by the rehabilitation centre already exist elsewhere; and the potential for campgrounds and trailer parks further erode the quiet enjoyment of the area by residents.
Matthew Koutsky represented architect Alvin Reinhard Fritz who described the project.
The intention is to take advantage of the Canamex corridor from Anchorage, Alaska to Mexico City in which Highway 519 at Granum will be an interchange.
All buildings will be new construction, water will be recycled and geo-thermal technology used. The truck stop will be like the one in Aldersyde and it will use shielded light fixtures to cut down on light pollution.
The traffic improvements at the aforementioned intersection will include deceleration lanes in the northbound left lane and southbound right lane, and an acceleration lane in the eastbound right lane.
Duncan Fleming, an adjacent land owner, was concerned about the two projects being considered as one.
Fleming emphasized he is not opposed to the treatment centre.
“We think it’s a very good program and well worthy of something happening,” Fleming said.
Fleming is opposed to the truck stop.
“Once you open this Pandora’s Box, you’ve opened it up to any development up and down the MD,” Fleming said.
Fleming cited as an example the stretch of Highway 2A north of High River. Once the Cargill plant was established development exploded.
Fleming also asked what would happen to the infrastructure established if the centre ceased to exist.
If it is put up for sale, would it turn into another hamlet like Moon River Estates, or subdivided into lots? If so, there are water access issues.
Fleming was also concerned about what trucks are hauling and what precautions will be in place if there is a leak of hazardous material.
Fleming concluded by asking council to take time and develop the treatment centre and look at the truck stop further.
Vanessa Graham is also with architect Alvin Reinhard Fritz and said there will be hazardous waste containment below grade so spills will flow into that, and she stressed there will be no overnight campgrounds.
Graham said there will be no progress on the truck stop until upgrades are complete to the highway.
Lori Philpot, who will be one of the key people operating the centre, said there will be on site emergency medical technicians who will also be available to the Granum Fire Department.
“That would be a plus for Granum and possibly for Claresholm,” Philpot added.
Philpot also said the odds of the police being called in are less than one per cent. The clients want to be at the centre and those who don’t will be taken home. There will be security on the grounds as well.
Philpot said they are not trying to take business out of Granum. If the Granum business owner wants to run the gas station at the truck stop or rent space for a grocery store, he can.
“We are not trying to overtake any business,” Philpot said.
Coun. Ed Neufeld asked if council can vote separately on the treatment centre and truck stop.
MD of Willow Creek planner Mike Burla said there are not separate applications.
“You have to vote on the package,” Burla said.
Reeve Henry Van Hierden closed the public hearing and council will make a decision at a later date.