A proposed new rental apartment building near Sumas Way looks likely to receive city approval, despite concerns about traffic in the area.
The six-storey building would house 103 units on Eleanor Avenue, a narrow street off of Marshall Road. The project would help address the city’s ongoing lack of rental housing, but Coun. Dave Loewen suggested it could lead to traffic chaos if Eleanor Avenue remains a dead end. Neighbours, meanwhile, voiced concern at a public hearing that the proposal will radically change the area.
Council, though, voted to move the project to third hearing, with Loewen and Coun. Patricia Ross opposed.
Coun. Ross Siemens noted the developer had complied with all the guidelines in place for the area, and followed the new official community plan, which designates Eleanor for midrise apartment development over time.
The city envisions the road eventually connecting to the easternmost extent of South Fraser Way, which currently ends at a nearby shopping centre. The shopping centre’s owners have had discussions with the city about developing land that would accommodate the road extension, but no application has yet been submitted.
In the meantime, Eleanor will be widened, a sidewalk will be installed, and a median will be installed along Marshall Road to prohibit left turns between the two streets.
Loewen, though, said he was concerned that barrier – which staff say is necessary to prevent collisions on busy Marshall Road – will force the apartment’s occupants to perform U-turns or turn around on nearby cul-de-sacs.
He said that while the project otherwise looks good, the traffic was a deal-breaker.
“At this point the transportation looks problematic to me and I see only frustration there,” Loewen said. He proposed approving the project on the condition that the developer come to an agreement with the shopping centre owner to ensure Eleanor is extended to South Fraser Way. But that motion was turned down by council, with only Coun. Patricia Ross supporting it.
Siemens acknowledged the traffic issues there and around the city, but said the move would be “an unfair ask of the proponent.” He suggested the city consider not restricting left turns.
“At this point the congestion is already there,” he said.
Earlier, at a public hearing on the project, residents had said the development of the property will radically change their way of life, with more noise and light from the lot, which is currently treed save for an older home currently on the project.
“Our lives will be totally, totally changed,” said Brenda-Lee Pettes, who lives on Guilford Drive and whose home will back onto the project. She asked council to imagine a development that results in the loss of “everything you strived for.”
Mayor Henry Braun later said he understood the residents’ concerns, but said “neighbourhoods do change,” and referenced the tens of thousands who have moved to Abbotsford in his 63 years in the city.