The proposed 35-storey highrise at 75A Avenue and Scott Road as seen from the west. (Hari Homes Inc./Barnett Dembek Architects Inc. photo)

LETTER: City of Delta needs to work with both residents and developers

Residents group’s rebuttal of Coun. Kruger’s column advocating adding more density along Scott road

We recently read Delta Councillor Dylan Kruger’s column titled “Scott Road density will help livability and affordability” (NDR Vol. 4 No. 51, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019).

As part of a large number of Delta residents who spoke at the recent public hearing against the highrise proposal at 75A and Scott road, we felt the need to provide some balance to Mr. Kruger’s comments.

There is no one who would deny that more affordable housing is required throughout the Lower Mainland. There are few even in North Delta that would deny the need for more housing alternatives. But there’s a reason that Delta is one of the most sought-after communities to live in in the Lower Mainland.

Over the past 50 years, Delta has done a good job managing the change that has brought more people, business and housing to this city.

Yes, we’ve had our growing pains, but that’s to be expected. Despite all the changes over the years, North Delta has managed to maintain its sense of community and livability.

But, as the pace of that change increased 10-15 years ago, council of the day realized that a vision was needed to ensure Delta kept all the things that made it such a great place to live, while opening its doors to increased growth.

The North Delta Area Plan was that vision, and as part of the Official Community Plan (OCP) for Delta, formed the basis of future development within the city.

Many would tell you that the OCP which was approved and implemented in 2014 is outdated, that we are in a housing crisis and as such the plan should be changed.

We say look closer at the North Delta Area Plan as it already “envisions” what a more densely populated future North Delta would look like. The OCP changed zoning across much of North Delta from single family to multi-family to increase allowable density. While the housing needs component of the OCP has to be updated every five years, guidelines were developed to get us to that future vision without sacrificing what all residents agreed were the keys to livability in our city.

Housing availability and affordability have been an issue for some time in this region and were considered in crafting the guidelines for the approved plan.

Much of what is contained in Mr. Kruger’s column is looking to a future state that is laudable, but not entirely realistic. His column also implies that Delta gave up an opportunity to solve some of the current housing issues when the 75A tower project was rejected.

The truth is, there’s already a highrise project on hold for the 92nd-96th area of Scott Road, and apparently now another proposal is on the drawing board for a highrise at 70th and Scott Road. Both proposals are within the approved nodes for high-density development along the Scott Road corridor, clearly showing that developers can work within the approved plan to deliver housing alternatives.

But building a tower by itself will not solve any of the issues raised in Mr. Kruger’s column. Instead, Delta council and city planning staff will need to work aggressively with developers to ensure a good mix of ownership and rental properties are developed along with much needed community amenities that will help make these new projects fit within our livable community and be a positive addition to the Delta family.

Despite what Mr. Kruger thinks about our ability to handle change, North Delta residents (yes, even us older ones) have adapted to change all of our lives, and welcome its benefits. As a community, we are against indiscriminate development that uses the current housing crisis as its reason for approval.

In the end, the majority of Delta council saw through the volumes of misinformation supplied by the developer and sided with local residents to stop this proposal.

Moving forward, Delta council and city planning staff need to work with residents and developers on creating measured, meaningful change in our community that clarifies affordability, supports a greener future and provides a variety of housing options that will maintain all parts of Delta as one of the best places to live in the greater Vancouver area.

— Delta Citizens for Responsible Densification

RELATED: Council denies 35-storey North Delta highrise proposal

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