The Town of Hay River intends to proceed next week with geotechnical testing for the proposed Fraser Place land development.
The town has determined that it no longer needs to get a permit from the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board for the work.
Judy Goucher, the senior administrative officer with the Town of Hay River, explained the change to town council on March 9.
“In terms of the geotechnical work scheduled for Fraser Place, as council is aware we are changing our approach to that work, using a smaller drill and relying on historical geotechnical studies that were completed in earlier years from the town,” she said. “So we will not be going for a land-use permit from the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board. That work is currently being planned for the week of March 23rd and is estimated to take approximately three days.”
Goucher’s statement was met with desk thumping from some councillors.
Last month, many on council were not pleased when told that the regulatory board was requiring door-to-door consultations with area residents prior to applying for a permit to conduct the geotechnical testing.
At the Feb. 17 meeting of council, that requirement was described as “not even rational” by Deputy Mayor Robert Bouchard.
Speaking to The Hub last week, Goucher said that using smaller drilling equipment and relying on the previous geotechnical study will mean less-invasive work.
“So we’re able to rely on the results of that study and do comparative analysis with the new study, and we don’t need anywhere near the same extent of the testing to take place,” she said.
Goucher said the town’s biggest concern is to be able to proceed with the project early this spring so that actual land development can start as soon as possible to begin addressing the community’s land shortage.
“It will take some time to get the results back, assess the results and then come up with a plan,” she said. “And we also have to go through rezoning, and we’ve committed to public consultation during that process.”
Goucher said the town will try to begin development during the summer construction season, if possible.
The number of lots the town hopes to develop has not yet been determined.
“The original plan called for something in the range of 20,” said Goucher. “But we’re going to wait and see what results come back, and go from there in terms of developing a plan.”
Fraser Place would consist of part of the so-called Hay River Nature Park, a wooded area covering about a half-kilometre along the shore of the Hay River in the vicinity of the Keith Broadhead Memorial Twin Park.
Development of the area has been opposed by some residents and Healthy Habitat for Hay River, which is a subcommittee of Ecology North.