A group of North Delta residents are redoubling their efforts to put a stop to a proposed highrise at the corner of Scott Road and 75A Avenue after learning the developer has revised the plan to include 41 more units.
The proposed 35-storey highrise has drawn a fair amount of criticism since council received the application in May 2017, prompting several revisions based on feedback received from council committees and at various public information meetings.
The latest change, received by the city on May 16, increases the number of units in the project from 294 to 335 in order to make 20 per cent of them (70 units) affordable housing under the Affordable Home Ownership Program.
AHOP is a BC Housing initiative that provides interim construction financing at reduced rates and leverages contributions from project partners (such as the City of Delta) to ensure units are made available for eligible home buyers at five to 20 per cent below market value.
|(Hari Homes Inc./Barnett Dembek Architects Inc. photo)|
The number of one-bedroom units would double, from 75 to 151, and the number of two-bedroom units would also increase, from 152 to 164. The number of adaptable units would also increase, from 58 to 66, as would the number of parking spots, from 554 to 560.
The revision would also reduce the number of townhouse units in the project from 14 to six. As well, the number of three-bedroom would be decreased, from 53 to 14.
For the dozens of neighbours who came out to protest the development on Friday morning (May 31), the addition of affordable housing units does little to ease their minds about the project’s impact to the immediate area.
“My first thought [upon learning of the latest revisions] was ‘you’re holding us hostage,’ because now if we show as being the ones who are opposed to this, we now become those people that are opposed to something that [the developer] is doing good, and that’s affordable housing,” said Debra Knowles, who has lived about a block from the proposed highrise location since 1992.
Knowles is one of the founders of a Facebook group Citizens for Responsible Densification. The group, created in July 2017 in response to the project, organized Friday’s protest.
“My point is he can still make 20 per cent affordable housing having this or that (indicating the medium density housing across 75A Avenue and on the Surrey side of Scott Road) or a mix of that and townhouses; it does not have to be that 35 storeys to make it work.”
“The traffic has been getting progressively worse and the problem is the streets in behind, there’s a lot of dead-end streets back in there. We that live on them, we’re trapped,” said resident Dave Dubé.
Dubé, who has lived in the neighbourhood for 38 years, said traffic volume in the area has increased significantly over the years, partly because the city narrowed 75A Avenue some years ago and added speed bumps, and partly because of all the development that is and has already happened.
|(Hari Homes Inc./Barnett Dembek Architects Inc. photo)|
“With all the legal suite approvals and all the secondary suites, and now if you … walk down the next two blocks you’ll see all the houses being redeveloped, they’re subdividing a lot of lots now, and there’s more that are going in,” he said. “There’s even more development that’s going to happen beside this [north of the proposed tower] and they don’t take that into account.
“So you take a tower that nobody in this neighbourhood felt belongs here because of the impact to traffic, the impact to livability, and then you take it and say, ‘Oh, let’s do an even better job, let’s add even more places inside the same space.’ It’s ridiculous.”
Knowles said residents in the area understand the need to create more housing and are not, for the most part, opposed to development, so long as it’s in line with the Official Community Plan.
The OCP does call for high-density mixed use development along Scott Road, namely at 72nd, 80th, 88th and 96th, as well as medium-density mixed use development at 64th and 84th avenues, but the proposed location is currently zoned as “medium density residential,” a designation intended for low-rise multi-family structures no more than six storeys high. For the highrise to go forward, city council would have to approve an amendment to the OCP and rezoning of the property.
“That [Official Community Plan] was in 2016. This … plan came into proposal in May of 2017. So not even a year had passed and it went from six storeys to 35 storeys, which is a 600 per cent increase, in an area that is already so congested and landlocked. There’s so many dead-end streets around here, it makes no sense.” she said.
“Everybody knows we have to develop; it’s inevitable. We need to revitalize the look and feel of Scott Road. Some places are quite an eyesore and challenged. Opening this [site] up and making it beautiful, everybody wants that,” she continued. “Everybody wants to make this work, we want to work with [the developer] — we’re not totally opposed to development. Responsible development, that’s all we’re asking.”
Neighbour Linda Erickson noted how on April 8 Mayor George Harvie and council rejected a proposed brew pub in Tsawwassen’s Southlands development because it did not conform with the OCP and zoning in the area.
“He stated the amendments to Delta’s OCP and zoning bylaws are in conflict with what was adopted by the previous council, and Delta has a commitment to the community to uphold what was originally envisioned,” Erickson said. “So how can he say that about that project and not be saying it about this one?”
|Carl Strand discusses his concerns about a proposed 35-storey highrise at 75A Avenue and Scott Road with neighbours and passers-by on Friday, May 31. (James Smith photo)|
Carl Strand has been distributing flyers in the area and collecting signatures for a petition against the project. He said many of the people he’s spoken to who live farther away, such as residents the other side of 116th Avenue, weren’t even aware it was happening. Still, he estimated 95 per cent of those he has approached — over 1,500 people — have signed the petition and told him they are against a project of this scale at that location.
“This group here are not opposed to what’s in the area plan; medium density, up to six-storey residential buildings. Stuff like this here,” he said, indicating the building on the south-west corner of Scott Road and 75A Avenue. “The people aren’t opposed to that. But this corner is a bloody disaster. This whole area is a disaster, and that’s what we’re talking about. It’s traffic chaos.”
“The area plan is a promise to the people,” Strand said. “All we want is for council to live to the area plan.”
According to a report dated May 13 from Delta’s director of community planning and development, Marcy Sangret, city staff recommend residents be given time to comment on the revised proposal before it goes to council for consideration. As well, the developer will need to submit an updated traffic impact study due to the change in the project’s density.
Sangret anticipated the traffic study to be submitted “in the next few weeks.”