Donald Development is back, with a new board of governance, and a modified vision for the 75-acres of logged land alongside the Trans-Canada Highway west of Golden.
Previously, residents in that area, and especially the neighbours surrounding the property, had difficult encounters with the Stallion Group, who were formerly in charge of the development.
As an attempt to recover some costs for the large scale truck stop and mall proposal, the company logged the land, leaving no buffer zone between the property and its neighbours. The original blueprints did not indicate there was a creek on the property, and machinery ran through it, crushing the banks, and causing problems upstream on neighbouring land.
Residents of Donald were enraged by the carelessness of the group, and the disregard the company had for resident’s concerns.
Now, a new board of directors has been elected and the Stallion Group no longer has anything to do with the development of that land.
Arthur Weinstein is the new president, and the board of directors has been narrowed down to only three people. Weinstein owns a scrap metal business in Vancouver, and says he hasn’t taken on any projects of this size before, but he is ready to work with the community to see what their interests and needs are.
On Saturday, May 5, Weinstein drove from Vancouver to Donald to meet with some of the concerned residents, and explain the changes that are happening in the company.
“I feel that he is trying to right some of the wrongs, and he wants to get to know the neighbours and the community of Donald, and what we would like to see there,” explained Joan Titus, whose propertyline is shared with Donald Development. “I felt that he is concerned about the mess they made. It was a good meeting.”
Weinstein spent some time meeting with community members at the Titus residence, and he walked around their property, the creek, and parts of the 75-acres owned by Donald Development.
“He’s looking at everything. He couldn’t understand why they didn’t leave us a buffer either. It’s too late now,” she said, adding that Weinstein asked Joanne Titus to give him a quote on planting wheat along the creek to help stabilize the bank and keep the dust down. “They just demolished that property, it’s terrible. There’s a lot of damage done.”
Weinstein also spent time watching traffic on the Trans-Canada Highway from the Donald Development location, and determined that it wouldn’t be plausible to build a truck stop in that location without spending millions of dollars on construction to underpasses and ramps on the highway.
With a shift in attention, Weinstein and the developers are now looking into alternative uses for the land, which may include a gas station, potential residential units if the zoning allows for it, a small market, possibly a liquor store, and a laundromat. Weinstein says that whatever the company decides on doing, he will seek community support.
The round trip from Donald to Golden can take up to an hour, and Weinstein said some residents would like to see a gas station in their neighbourhood, or a place to buy milk without having to take the long trip into town. His idea for residential units stems from the number of available housing in Golden and the rural areas, as well as an interest of bringing in more seasonal visitors from Calgary for skiing, sledding, and hiking.
“I’ve got some ideas of doing a small residential development and the possibilities of it. Down sizing these grandiose ideas, maybe a small motel or something in that neighbourhood, who knows what else,” explained Weinstein. “You’ve got the heli ski operations right there, I’m sure if there was some accommodations for their clientele they would make use of it. There’s lots of potential in that neighbourhood.”
Weinstein has also been a truck driver all of his life through the scrap metal business, which is how he originally got involved with the development. It was easy for him to tell with his previous experience that it wouldn’t be simple to develop a truck stop on that stretch of highway. In addition, as a businessman, Weinstein doesn’t see the appeal in providing free parking for trucks, when there is a lot of paid maintenance that needs to go into ensuring parking lots are tidy and clear of snow in the winter.
Originally, Weinstein became involved in the project because the former president John Cook had called him to let him know he would be dismantling the old mill on the property. Weinstein said he would buy whatever scrap Cook sent to him, and he eventually became an investor.
After the board voted Cook out of the project, Weinstein became president, and had to begin thinking of how to move forward.
“If it was slow and steady way back at the beginning, attitudes would have been different and we probably would have been further ahead at this point,” Weinstein said.