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Pioneer family looks to evolve lands in the face of growth pressures

A pioneer Cochrane family has revealed preliminary plans to shape the future of their lands, as the region delves into growth planning.

A pioneer Cochrane family has revealed preliminary plans to shape the future of their lands, as the region delves into growth planning.

In the face of Cochrane's Vision and the Rocky View County growth management plan, the McNabb family is looking for a seat at the table – presenting concepts for their "Section 8" lands that are situated in the county on Cochrane's borders, ahead of mandated growth management by the Calgary Metropolitan Regional Board.

With the help of the planning firm, Situated, the family, led by William McNabb, delivered a presentation at Monday night council (July 8) to implore council to consider not only the eastern half of their Section 8 lands – which are already flagged for future annexation by the town – but also the western half of the quarter section of lands (640 acres) that flank both sides of the Bow River and Highway 1A, next door to the communities of Heritage Hills, Heartland and West Pointe.

"We think it's best for it to be in Cochrane (rather than the county) but the opportunity exists on both sides," explained David Allen with Situated; the consulting group has also been involved with the future Greystone residential/commercial community that was approved last year by council, next door to the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre.

The Section 8 Lands, dubbed "Horse Creek at the Bow," includes three development cells – future communities aligned with the existing communities of Heritage Hills, Heartland and West Pointe (eastern half of the lands); a new community (western portion); and a "gateway retreat" on the south side of the river that could be suitable for a private school or institution and would align with the bordering Stoney Nakoda First Nations lands. The inclusion of commercial space/a community hub/employment centre is flagged near the future RCMP site along Highway 1A.

"We believe that the whole section aligns with council's vision for the growth of tremendous green spaces and river access as well as a smart mix of urban development that will continue to help Cochrane be prosperous and pertinent, well into the future," stated a press release delivered to council.

Over 40 per cent of the plan area, 180 acres, would be dedicated to a legacy park – something the McNabb family feels matches the town's vision for prioritizing Cochrane's pristine aesthetic and expanding green spaces.

William McNabb, whose family homesteaded in the area in 1873, explained that growth pressures and the challenges that arise from urban/rural interface have made traditional agricultural practices challenging; namely, sharing borders with the existing Burnco gravel pit – which does have expansion plans and flanks the northwest tip of Section 8.

"It's time to turn this land over to other uses," said William, adding that the Wild Cat Hills Gas Plant, as well as the expanding gravel pit are all clear signs of an unofficial industrial corridor shaping up in that area of the county along Highway 1A.

Coun. Morgan Nagel took the opportunity to advocate for lower density as the plan shapes up.

Coun. Tara McFadden asked whether or not the family possessed a water licence and learned that it's not a simple process to transfer an agricultural water licence to an industrial one and that this would be something best left in the hands of the town.

Coun. Marni Fedeyko asked for a timeline and was advised "sooner rather than later."


Lindsay  Seewalt

About the Author: Lindsay Seewalt

Lindsay is a senior Eagle reporter who has transformed her penchant for storytelling into the craft of writing.
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