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Public input sought for Boutin-Drinnan project

Masha Scheele
Local Journalism Initiative

The Town of Hinton is calling for public input on development opportunities for the undeveloped, town owned lands at the intersection of Boutin Ave and Drinnan Way.

Town administration hopes to come up with a final concept design for the area by July 26, following a four-day design charrette.

The design charrette is created to incorporate the visions and ideas of local stakeholders and the public based on their current and future needs to develop a site plan for the three lots, totalling 4.8 hectares.

“We are seeking input to inspire our vision and guide the creation of concepts for refinement based on feedback. The end product would be a preferred concept,” stated Josh Yaworski, Hinton communications coordinator.

He added that the public can provide input, observe, make comments on what they see, and comment on which scenario or combination of scenarios they prefer.

Town staff in Development Services have used this planning methodology in previous municipalities, and their experiences are being drawn upon for this new endeavour in Hinton.

This moment is the culmination of years of work surrounding the McMillan lands, stemming from the purchase three years ago, Yaworski explained.

Council approved the purchase of the land in October 2018 with the intent of using it for social, affordable and 55+ transition housing development.

“The purpose of the charrette is to imagine the possibilities for all types of housing, not just seniors housing,” clarified Yaworski.

In September 2019, an RFP process was approved to select a consultant to complete a geotechnical site assessment on the McMillan Land.

Council also approved $25,000 of unused South Area Structure Plan funds to support a geotechnical site assessment.

Unused funds from the South Area Structure Plan were used to expedite the process, rather than waiting until after the 2020 budget deliberations.

Developing this land for seniors’ housing was established as a priority in council’s strategic plan. 

Stakeholder groups invited to the charrette include the general public, builders, community service groups, and council and town staff.

The Boutin Avenue design charrette is described as an intensive engagement process that sees the project go from a vision stage to a final concept design over a four-day period. 

The design team, V3 Companies of Canada, takes information from stakeholder groups and creates a series of site plans that capture different visions. 

The Town has been coordinating efforts with Evergreens Foundation, which manages the nearby Pine Valley Lodge, on this project.

The intent is to have a preferred concept design that has the support from those who participated in the design charrette.

After the charrette, the town will complete a development pro forma that will position the Town to decide on next steps. 

A pro forma analysis is a set of calculations that projects the financial return that a proposed real estate development is likely to create.

Participants are requested to attend the events on at least three out of the four days to enable the project to reach its full potential.

Day one of the charrette on July 23 is the learning and visioning day, where information and input on vision and design concepts will be gathered.

Four sessions will run from 7 pm until 10:45 pm, starting on the hour.

The following day is the design day, where the concept ideas will be refined. While day two is optional for attendance, all stakeholders and the public are invited to drop in from 10 am to 8 pm.

On day three, attendees will offer feedback on the design concepts during five sessions between 6 pm and 10:45 pm, starting on the hour.

A presentation on the preferred design will be done on the final day, on July 26. Day four again will be done in five sessions between 6 pm and 10:45 pm, starting on the hour.

The Town noted that it will be maintaining physical distancing during the event at the Hinton Government Centre.