COCHRANE— A public hearing has been set to discuss the future of the Cochrane Corridor plan.
Cochrane Council approved hosting a non-statutory public hearing on the proposed Town of Cochrane Corridor Plan on Monday (July 12).
The Corridor Plan was presented at the June 21 Committee of the Whole Meeting, prior to its approval for a public hearing at the regular council meeting on Monday (June 28).
In Spring 2019, the Town began work on the Corridor Plan project to assess and define the long-term objectives for the site. Plans include the potential future design and function of four main corridors in town— Fifth Avenue, Railway Street, River Avenue and Griffin Road.
The process of planning was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic and re-launched in May with the completion of the draft plan and re-engagement with stakeholders and the public.
Once the plan has been established, The Corridor Plan will act as a guiding document providing direction on future planning, re-development and decisions the Town makes regarding the four corridors.
The ultimate goal of the plan is to provide businesses, landowners and the public with an understanding of what these corridors will potentially become in the future.
The Corridor Plan will be finalized and presented to Council for their consideration after the public hearing.
Mayor Jeff Genung said he appreciates the corridor plan and the its associated study for the impact it could have in town.
He described the plan as a need in the community, but is concerned the plan may be being pushed too quickly.
“I wonder if the community isn't feeling at this time with the pandemic with the hopefully easing and the restrictions changing and people wanting to get back to summer and their lives that having these conversations now does it change anything we have coming down the pipe right now,” Genung said. “I wonder if this is just not the time to put the brakes on this one.”
He said the Town could explore slowing down a bit on the Corridor Plan, especially given the limited capacity of Town staff.
“Is this something we would like to have, or something we need to have,” Genung said.
Cochrane Chief Executive Officer Mike Derricott cautioned if the hearing is pushed back, it would likely take place after the municipal election in the fall pushing back the plan to early 2022 before it is considered again.
Councillor Tara McFadden described the hearing as “an extra step in engagement” because the Town is not required to host the event under any provincial mandate.
“I do see the timing as important. We’re already seeing redevelopment along Griffin … In order for these Corridor Plans to come into effect they have to actually be in play prior to development applications happening,” McFadden said. “If we want this redevelopment to be looking to the future the Corridor Plan needs to be in place.”
She said it would be in an error to delay plans by a year as the community recovers and begins to open up.
Councillor Marni Fedeyko agreed with Genung, saying she questioned the tight timeline of the Corridor Plan. She cautioned the Land Use Bylaw potentially being pushed back in the fall further complicated the hearing.
“I just don’t see the necessary urgency of having to get this done right now,” Fedeyko said.
Coun. Morgan Nagel said he would like to see it move ahead and did not consider it to be a controversial topic.
Speaking with the public will tell Council what residents are looking for in the area, he said, and what they would think would make the community nicer.
“I would like to be able to vote on it this term,” Nagel said.