BY LINDSAY BRISCOE
New development in the Gustafson Cr.-Blende St. area has got several residents of that corner of Red Lake fired up about the impact they say it will have on their neighbourhood.
“My concern is the opening of Gustasfson into Blende St. which would allow through traffic through what has been a pretty private and quiet neighbourhood,” said Blende St. resident Stan Laevens, as part of a delegation made up of himself and a group of his neighbours at the Aug. 26 council meeting. “We liked it that way.”
Four lots have been purchased along the gravel road connecting Gustafson and Blende. On Oct. 17, 2012 one of those new lot owners wrote a letter to the municipality requesting the road used to access the properties be “upgraded to municipal standards for development.”
A little less than a month later, council passed a resolution to accept a report prepared by the Operations Supervisor to have the road surveyed, two hydro poles and four street lights installed, ten to twelve culverts installed in the ditch along the southwest side of the road, the land brushed on the north side of the road and the existing road base upgraded. Approximately $20 thousand was approved for the project in the 2013 budget.
Neither Laevens’ letter nor the staff report made mention of connecting the road to Gustafson and Blende, however.
Laevens says he acquired about the road in the spring and was told by municipal staff in June that Gustafson would remain a cul de sac and the two streets wouldn’t be joined. Over the course of the summer he says he’s been told it will be upgraded to a full two-lane road.
“With the additional traffic that will come through the street, that is a problem. It’s devastating,” Laevens said at the council meeting. “That’s a lot more noise and vibration and who knows what in my home. My house is built right near the hill on that street (Blende) so every vehicle that comes by my home is going to be climbing that hill and accelerating and more noisy than average, in other words. Over all we’re going to have a lot more traffic through the neighbourhood that we haven’t had before. I worry about the decline in value of my property. Whereas it was once in a private neighbourhood, it no longer will be. I worry about the over all decline in that thing that is less measurable and that is the over all quality of my neighbourhood. That kind of thing you can’t put numbers on.”
He went on to talk about the possible increase in risk posed to young children who play on both streets, the possible creation of a blind corners and the additional cost to taxpayers.
“We’re spending money for a tremendous amount of fill and additional material that’s going to be needed to complete and widen that road because there’s a very steep drop off there. It’s not going to be a cheap job putting that in,” he said. “Martin Hester’s garage sits very close to where that laneway is now. To provide any kind of clearance at all there’s going to have to be an awful lot of material that’ll have to go in there to make that possible for adequate clearance. If the municipality is having so much difficulty providing other repairs in the community, I don’t see the need for this expense.”
“Basically when people buy or build in our neighbourhood, they’re there because of the qualities it offers and I don’t think they feel they signed up for the changes we’re seeing. They weren’t expecting to lose what they’ve got and what they’ve invested it in,” he added.
Both Councillor Debra Shushack and Mayor Phil Vinet reminded the delegation that the municipal agendas are always available to the public, as is the public invited to attend council meeting – especially when they see the name of their street, for example, appear on the agenda so that issues can be discussed in good time.
“If you tell ten people to tell ten people to read the agendas, and read the yellow pages and click onto the website,” said Vinet. “You know, we’ve done a lot here in the last few years to try to get our message out and yet unfortunately a lot of the message comes in the form of default. That’s not our intent. We want to hear from all residents on every issue.”
Council and staff have been directed to review the comments made by the delegation and provide a report for the next Committee of the Whole meeting, scheduled for Sept. 9.