COCHRANE— After a lengthy debate, Town Council approved the Cochrane Corridor Plan with the condition the visionary document receive a review after two years.
A review timeline was incorporated into the plan at the regular council meeting Monday (July 12) after Mayor Jeff Genung expressed concerns public engagement was not as robust as he hoped given the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I really support the Corridor Plan, I get the idea of it, I think the work is great. Where my hesitation comes from ... With COVID and the interruption that we had ... We came to a lurching halt," Genung said. "My hesitation lies in the community engagement piece."
Genung said he feared the conversation surrounding the Corridor Plan may have been lost in the noise created by the world adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I don't think the community really understands what we are up to— For me, it's timing," Genung said.
By adding the timeline these concerns were addressed by providing the opportunity to review the visionary document in the near future.
The Cochrane Corridor Plan began in 2019 to assess and define the long-term aspirations for the four main corridors in town— Fifth Avenue, Railway Street, River Avenue and Griffin Road.
Public engagement for the project began at the time to create a vision for the corridors, but was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was later relaunched in May 2021 with the completion of a draft plan and re-engagement with the public and stakeholders.
Town of Cochrane CAO Mike Derricott said the Corridor Plan has the potential to invite partnerships between the Town and the private sector by showing Cochrane's goals for the future.
"By putting the concept out there that captures the principals and ideas and concepts [of the Town] ... It invites partnership with the private sector. We can show what we hope to see," Derricott said.
He added the Town hopes to rely on the private sector's creativity and entrepreneurship to come with concepts, ideas and businesses that will support and have the concepts included in the Corridor Plan.
He added another piece to the Corridor Plan is that it is a transitional document that will take place over many years.
"We're putting in place something that we may not even experience in a professional sense the outcomes of," Derricott said. "It really gives the opportunity to set the stage for the next phase ... Of those important areas of our community."
Grand Central Properties manager Randy Mabbott was on hand for the Corridor Plan non-statutory hearing Monday.
Grand Central will be directly affected by the plan, Mabbot said, and he wanted to find a compromise in terms of potential building types and parking designs incorporated into the area.
"In principle, we don't object to the concept of having a Corridors Plan, but I want to offer a different perspective," Mabbott said.
His biggest concern was the associated land-use bylaw that could potentially directly impact the opportunities available on Griffin Avenue.
As proposed the concept does not work with the potential development of the area, he said.
Mabbott added based on plans for the site, Grand Central will feel the impact based on where they can build and how structures will look. He would like to go back to the proposed land-use bylaw associated with the Corridor Plan to limit these impacts.
These practicalities include the restriction of uses for sites and what can be developed, because the proposals directly affect why the land was purchase by Grand Central.
"I think some good groundwork has been done, but ... I don't think we've delved deep enough yet on some of the other issues from a practical side," Mabbott said. "We're not working with what we have or what is practical."
As a visionary document that sets aspirations for the Town, Councillor Morgan Nagel said, he wanted to see the Corridor Plan move ahead.
He cautioned any updated land-use bylaws put in place by the Town need to align with the Corridor Plan.
"We'll put teeth to it later, particularly with the land use bylaw," Nagel said.
Collaboration with business owners off of River Avenue north will be a key concern as the Corridor Plan comes into focus, said Coun. Marni Fedeyko.
She said she would like to see a round table advisory board created that is focussed on those who park there and use that stretch of land regularly.
"If we're not hearing where those concerns are and how we need to address that further into the future, I think we're going to shoot ourselves in the foot," Fedeyko said.
Coun. Tara McFadden said as a visionary document the Corridor Plan can help the Town in the implementation of bylaws, procedures and policies.
"When's the best time to plant a tree, when's the best time to have good planning— It's 20 years ago, the next best time is today," McFadden said.