Turner Valley council is seeking legal advice before following through on a decade-old agreement to close Imperial Drive and transfer the land to the golf course.
At its Jan. 6 meeting, council passed second reading of a bylaw to close 1.72 hectares of Imperial Drive from the Diamond Valley Villas east to the Turner Valley Golf Club clubhouse, yet several councillors expressed concerns that transferring the property to the golf club could result in the road closing to pedestrian traffic.
Council refused to move further on the bylaw Monday, requesting administration to provide a map of land to be transferred as identified in the land exchange agreement the Town signed with the golf course and Kana Gateway Developments in 2008, as well as legal advice regarding specifics in the agreement that weren’t carried out.
These details will be brought to council at its Jan. 20 meeting.
Coun. John Waring, a frequent walker on Imperial Drive, which closed to vehicle traffic in 2015, expressed his concerns about the land transferring to the golf club.
“I feel so many people have been using that road for the past five years as an access trail for recreation, for health benefits and everything else,” he said. “I’m very anxious to know what’s going to happen to that road when that transfer is made and whether it’s still going to be available for us to use it. I would like to see the road stay as it is until such time as there’s an alternative route.”
During council’s discussion, Turner Valley Mayor Barry Crane invited Turner Valley Golf Club general manager J.D. Scheller, who was in the gallery, to speak about the business’s plans regarding the road.
Scheller said allowing pedestrians on Imperial Drive after the land is transferred to the golf club would become a liability issue, but assured council the golf club will work with the Town to find an alternate route for pedestrians.
“If we can get this agreement done we will definitely talk about a second walkway or something,” he said. “This is 13 years this is going on. We need to get this done. We have no problem doing another negotiation once that gets done.”
The road closure bylaw was originally prepared in 2006, approved by Alberta Transportation and given third reading by council in 2007, however it was never registered at Land Titles for unknown reasons, Gerry Melenka, Turner Valley planning and development co-ordinator, told council in late 2018.
At that time, council passed first reading for the bylaw and later held a public hearing where five residents spoke against the proposal due to concerns of the road being closed to pedestrian traffic.
Last week, Coun. Cindy Holladay said a lot has changed since the agreement was made, including developments that didn’t occur.
According to the agreement, said Holladay, Imperial Drive east of the Royalite subdivision isn’t to close until five phases of development occur.
“We haven’t had the five phases of development to provide green space and places to walk and things to do for residents living in those communities,” she said. “I think it needs to stay open until development occurs on the Kana (Gateway) lands for quality of life for the residents there.”
Holladay suggested the Town get a legal opinion on whether the road must close now or after development occurs, which she said likely won’t occur for a long time due to the current economic situation.
Deputy Mayor Gary Raab said other parts of the agreement also weren’t met, including Kana Gateway being required to build a road following the closure of Imperial Drive to traffic and the requirement of emergency vehicle access east of the villas to the Royalite subdivision. Erosion caused during the 2013 flood made a portion of the road unsafe for vehicle access.
“There’s lots of missing pieces when we look at the original agreement and all the things that have changed along the way,” he said.
Raab told council he doesn’t support closing the road to pedestrians east of the Royalite subdivision.
“To lose the part east of Royalite, that still concerns me,” he said. “We’ve got a situation where the people of Royalite are getting hosed, but it also affects everyone in town. I see people walking there all the time.”
Raab suggested making an agreement with the golf club for an alternate route.
“That’s the least we can do for the citizens of Royalite and Bailey Ridge all the way to the golf course,” he said. “I totally understand this is a legally-binding document, but it’s been broken so many which ways.”
Coun. Lana Hamilton said she doesn’t see the Town being in a legal position to not follow the agreement as written.
“I would caution council (against) changing a legal document that has been signed and executed, regardless of how many years ago it’s been done,” she said. “These conversations we’re having, they needed to take place in 2008. We’ve got a great neighbour in the Turner Valley Golf Club - they will be reasonable in working through an alternate solution in the future, but that needs to happen outside of the land exchange agreement from January 2008.”