Guildford highrise proposals pass third reading despite community opposition

City of Surrey received 229-signature petition opposing the plan

A proposal for a pair of Guildford highrises has been given the green light despite community opposition.

The plan, which would see the construction of 270 dwelling units between the two buildings, received third reading at council Monday (Nov. 18), with only Councillor Steven Pettigrew opposed. The proposal will come back to council for final approval at a later date.

One building would be 12 storeys high, while the other would be 24 at 15140 and 15110 101st Avenue.

A total of 187 apartments are proposed in the highrise and 83 in the midrise, ranging from 492 to 1,595 square feet in size. Another 1,178 square feet of ground-floor commercial and retail space is planned.

Pettigrew said he wouldn’t be supporting the application because of the 229-signature petition from nearby residents opposing the plan.

“If this petition wasn’t here and there wasn’t the concerns of the people that live in that area, then I would most likely be supporting this application,” Pettigrew said.

READ ALSO: Height, traffic concerns over pair of proposed highrises in Guildford, Nov. 4, 2019

The city has received a 229-signature petition from locals opposed to the plan, all from neighbouring buildings to the west of the property. Concerns are mostly related to traffic, parking, density and building height.

Earlier in the meeting, three people spoke during the public hearing for the plan, two opposed and the project architect for the proposal.

Staff say those concerns are “consistent with comments received in response to the pre-notification letters and those conveyed” at a public information meeting. The city has heard from some residents that the building heights are “too tall and should only be four to six storeys.”

Robert Marchioni, who is one of the 229 people on the petition and lives in the area, was the first up to speak.

His concern was for the number of vehicles driving up and down 101st Avenue already.

“With two highrises on the property in question, it would be a nightmare. We are requesting a four-storey building like the rest of the area,” said Marchioni.

Many of the people on the petition, he said, are over the age of 65 and depend on crossing 101st Avenue each day for running errands.

“It’s not easy for them to cross the street with a wheelchair or using canes,” he said.

Al Johnson, who also lives in the area, said the two proposed highrises are “really going to hinder a street that’s really overused.”

Last to speak was Joseph Lau, the project architect with ZGF Architects.

“While we understand the concerns of traffic for this area, we did design the project to be in accordance with the Guildford area plan that was passed in June, in regards to density. It’s all in compliance,” Lau told council.

He said some of the plans to address traffic issues include a dedication of 2.5 metres to widen 101st Avenue in the future, a dedication of 1.6 metres at 152nd Street “to improve its use,” and a “major” dedication of 22 metres for a future 151A Street.

Lau also said the developer is reducing its parking requirements by 22 per cent “to eliminate the traffic that will be created by our site.”

“We have also over-provided bike storage, knowing that there is a future possibility of a transit hub at 104th (Avenue) and 152nd (Street). We’re looking to improve the pedestrian and non-vehicle use from our site.”

In a report to council, staff say the “proposed density and building form are appropriate for this part of Guildford Town Centre, and confirms with the goal of achieving higher density development in a town centre and in close to frequent transit service,” noting the property is within walking distance of public transit on 150th and 152nd Streets as well as 104th Avenue.

In a previous report, staff point to other highrise buildings nearby, including a pair of 16-storey residential towers to the west along 101st Avenue at 150th Street, a 21-storey residential building to the northwest at 104th Avenue and 148th Street and the 21-storey Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel.

This latest plan, if approved, would “support the vitality of the town centre,” staff note.

To proceed, the property must be rezoned from C-8 to CD, and a development permit is required. The developer is seeking a reduction in indoor amenity space as part of the proposal.

Council approved stage one of the Guildford Town Centre – 104 Avenue Corridor Plan last July. This particular property is designated mid- to high-rise mixed use in that plan, and staff say this proposal is “consistent with this designation in terms of built form and uses.”

The developer is seeking a 20 per cent increase in the permitted density of 3.5 gross FAR (floor-to-area-ratio), to 4.2, proposing a monetary amenity contribution of more than $1.35 million. The city would use those funds towards community amenity needs in the area.

But, staff note the plan could not proceed to final approval until stage two of the TCP was approved by council.

If the high-rise proposal proceeds, the developer would provide road dedication for the widening of 101st Avenue, the future 151st Street and a new north/south road (151A Street).

The two towers are projected to result in 29 new students to local public schools; 25 at Bonaccord Elementary and four at Johnston Heights Secondary.

Occupancy is planned for the summer or fall of 2021.



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

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