Controversial River Park South development gets pushed back due to lack of consultation

A developer’s lack of consultation with a River Park South community has prompted councillors to defer a controversial development for more than two months.

On Tuesday, the Riel Community Committee heard from delegations speaking out about a proposal in the River Park Village Shopping Centre, a strip mall at 1500 Dakota Street. Developers are looking to add a Dollarama and two drive-thru restaurants.

“It is certainly our hope to make the site as inviting and more useable for a seniors population than it currently is, and certainly providing more options in relation to services and retail and so on that currently exists,” said Qualico Properties’ Colm Sheridan, who spoke at the committee, representing the owner of the development.

However the proposal has faced backlash from community residents, many who say they were not consulted about the development.

“I’m really not opposed to growth in the least bit. I am absolutely supportive of growing our community and helping small businesses get started, so on and so forth. What I am opposed to today is that Qualico has not approached us at all,” Robin, a resident who lives behind the shopping centre, told the committee.

Colette Durant, who lives beside the space, said she has collected more than 100 signatures from area residents who are against the build.

“We are afraid that this development is overkill for the size of the property that they are proposing – too many things in too small of a space,” Durant said.

When pressed on the issue of a lack of consultation by area councillor Markus Chambers, Sheridan said the developers had planned to deal with resident concerns as a part of the approval process.

“I think we can certainly work towards addressing concerns of the adjacent residents at the moment,” he told the committee. “We are mindful of making the site as inviting as possible for the type of resident that lives around the area and we would like the opportunity to sort of hear the concerns and address the concerns as part of a site plan approval process.”

However Chambers said that consultation should have happened before the proposal was brought to the committee.

“From my perspective, I’m not willing to put the cart before the horse,” Chambers said. “With the fact that probably the most essential part of this has been missed, I think it needs to be dealt with.”

Chambers forwarded a motion, which passed unanimously, to defer the matter to the next committee’s meeting.

“With the intent to allow the developer and the community to engage in consultation to discuss and resolve the issues that are present,” he said.

The Riel Community Committee is set to revisit the matter on Nov. 14.

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