Controversial Highland Park Golf Course plan approved by Calgary city council

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Controversial Highland Park Golf Course plan approved by Calgary city council

A controversial proposal for redeveloping the former Highland Park golf course was approved by city council Monday.

The developer, Maple Projects, wants to build 2,000 residential units and office space on the land in north Calgary.

But area residents oppose the project, saying the site is part of a larger water drainage area and there are concerns about flooding. The local community association says it's disappointed with the decision.

Elise Bieche, with the Highland Park community association, calls it a disappointing decision. She says they wanted a higher quality development and fears taxpayers are going to be stuck with the cost of resolving the water problems, including potential flooding.

"Fiscal hawks that sit on council, they just signed us up for a great big bill," she said. "So you could purchase land on this site or you could take a look at re-allocating land on this site and be economic and efficient with taxpayer dollars, or you can allow the development to go through and now we're looking at tens of millions of dollars to deal with the stormwater."

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says a groundwater study must be done before any work can begin, but he shares residents' concerns about flooding.

"I'm quite worried about this, actually," he said. "We've heard a number of differing issues on the groundwater. The good news is that no shovels will touch any dirt until the groundwater study is completed which should be another year and a half or so, and quite frankly, judging from what I heard today, that study could result in changes to this plan yet again."

Nenshi says the City has responsibilities for water drainage but if the development makes the problem worse, the developer will have to pay for further improvements.

Maple Projects president Ajay Nehru says he is relieved by Monday's decision.

"We're open to refinements as we go," he said. "I think what's been approved is a win-win for everybody because the community gets a very large greenspace, 33 per cent of the site is actually going to be public greenspace, and that to me, is a win."

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