Delta city council was not able to get through all 129 speakers who signed up for Tuesday night’s public hearing on a 35-storey highrise proposal at 75A Avenue and Scott Road, and will reconvene Wednesday to hear from the remaining 15 people and decide the project’s fate.
Residents packed the North Delta Recreation Centre to give their input on the condo highrise, which would be built in what is a mostly single family home neighbourhood.
Comments were at times heated from both sides, with accusations of ageism from some opponents, and an “OK, boomer” vibe coming from some of the mostly younger group of supporters of the project.
“I’m sick and tired of the older generation constantly resisting change and preventing us, the future generation of Delta, from moving forward,” said Gavin Mattu, a supporter of the project.
“I guess I’m one of the people that the young ones here seem to hate so much,” said Dave Dube, an opponent of the project who has lived in Delta for 38 years.
“From the day this project was brought forward over two years ago, this mayor and council have heard concerns from city staff, voicing concerns. Traffic, noise, safety and liveability are just some of the concerns.”
Developer Aloke Chowdhury has proposed to build the condo project on what is currently a vacant lot. It would add 335 units of housing in a tower and townhouse podium, and also include a daycare and retail space.
Under a BC Housing affordable home ownership program for first-time homebuyers, 70 of the units would be sold at a five to 20 per cent discount to people who are currently renting or living with family. Applicants also must make under $155,000 for two bedrooms and under $112,000 for less than two bedrooms, according to BC Housing’s website.
The project exceeds current zoning that allows multi-family buildings up to six storeys. Many opponents of the project said they were surprised the project had been allowed to progress this far, because it falls far outside what is currently allowed under the official community plan for the area.
Many of the opponents showed up to the public hearing wearing black and orange t-shirts that read ‘Respect the Official Community Plan.’ Others waved stop sign-shaped signs while people spoke to council.
Traffic congestion was a concern for many of those speakers. The area already suffers from drivers trying to “rat-run” through their neighbourhood as commuters approach the Alex Fraser bridge.
Janet Ralph was one of several opponents who said she was concerned about the traffic impacts of adding over 335 more residents, as well as a daycare where parents would be dropping off and picking up their children.
“This development is a slap in the face for all residents,” she said.
Susan Lu said she and her family want to continue living in Delta because they like the single family character of the city. She said the city needs to solve its lack of public transit first, before building high-density towers.
Many people speaking in support of the project said they have lived in Delta all their lives, and want to continue living near aging parents and grandparents.
With single family houses in the neighbourhood selling near $1 million or above, there’s no affordable housing option other than buying a condo, said several of those speakers.
“I’m a new immigrant here as a student, and this project is extremely important for me, and newcomers and young people, because we need housing options that are affordable,” said Sam Minhas.
“Single detached homes are out of our reach. As we’ve seen in our neighbourhood, they’re selling for close to a million, or even more.”
Jagmeet Gill said his parents immigrated to Canada in 1992 and settled in North Delta, where he’s lived his entire life.
“As the primary caretaker of my grandmother, I’d like to live in close proximity to her,” Gill said.
“At the end of my studies, I hope to become a homeowner myself. But I worry I won’t be able buy a home in my community because of unaffordable housing prices.”
George Alexander, an opponent, said he “kind of” sympathizes with young people who are trying to find affordable housing.
But, he said, if young people want to find affordable housing, they’ll just have to move further east to communities in the Fraser Valley, like Chilliwack or Abbotsford. “That’s just the way it goes,” he said.