Mixed response to McCallum Road project

Major development would feature Cabela’s as anchor

Residents at a public hearing provided mixed input on a proposed development that would include a Cabela's.

Residents at a public hearing provided mixed input on a proposed development that would include a Cabela's.

A large commercial development proposed on McCallum Road – which would include a Cabela’s outfitters store as an anchor tenant – brought a mix of opposition and support at a public hearing on Monday.

Supporters of the McCallum Junction project cited the potential for the development to bring jobs and economic activity, but opponents suggested the project doesn’t align with concepts set out in the city’s ongoing official community plan (OCP) update, Abbotsforward.

While some neighbours of the project noted they could benefit from increased commercial businesses, others were concerned about the impact of ongoing construction on property values.

The 130,000-sq.ft. development, which would include a 70,000-sq.ft Cabela’s store, requires rezoning and an OCP amendment. The current OCP designates the site as 88 per cent city residential land and 12 per cent commercial, while the proposal involves 81 per cent commercial and 19 per cent residential.

Abbotsford is currently developing a new OCP – a plan that guides decision-making on growth and development in the city – and while a city staff report expressed support for increasing the commercial space on site to accommodate the Cabela’s, it noted the additional space may adversely impact the development of “walkable, livable and complete communities within other areas of the city including the U-District.”

Bridget Belliveau, who is an owner and strata council member on Salton Road, said everyone she’s talked to in that complex is excited about the development. She said it will make the community walkable and thinks it will increase property values through the addition of a drug store, grocery store and other retail.

Derrick Swallow, who lives across from the proposed development and was involved in early planning for the U-District as a student at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV), said the development is “car-oriented,” as a large portion of the land is needed for parking.

The site would have 639 parking spots.

Swallow also cited concerns about the impact on U-District planning that is underway, with support from the city and university.

Dylan Thiessen noted that the Cabela’s website already indicates a location is opening soon in Abbotsford, and on the website of a developer selling homes near the site, it states that McCallum Junction will be opening in late 2015. He said it “makes this entire exercise almost feel useless, like it’s just one more hurdle city council has to jump over before it finally gets to build its development.”

Rick MacDonald, who lives across from the site, said that while people speak about making Abbotsford a desirable place to live, he thinks it already is. MacDonald, a business owner, said the development would be good for the city as it needs commercial development and jobs.

After the public hearing, council deferred their decision on the project to an upcoming meeting.