Abbotsford’s civic precinct can grow, now that the city has wrapped up the purchase of a final piece of land at the northeast perimeter of the central Abbotsford site.
“We now have the complete block,” Mayor Henry Braun told The News.
The city revealed $4 million worth of land buys in a budget presentation last November, but the details were not disclosed because Braun said they were part of an in camera council discussion that could not yet be revealed.
There is no immediate plan for the land, but Braun said it was prudent to scoop the properties up when the chance presented itself.
“Our forefathers many many years ago had the foresight to assemble this precinct, which is great because without it we would be in some difficulty.”
Braun said a number of uses are possible for the land, pointing specifically to a new police headquarters – although earlier this year council indicated that they would like to see the present building expanded, rather than a new headquarters erected at another site.
“It isn’t for an immediate [need] but when you do want to do something five years from now, and somebody else would have bought them … [we would] say ‘Shoot, we should have bought them when we had the opportunity.’”
Braun said the precinct has played a key role in the city’s ongoing development, and that the assembly of land there (and also at Mill Lake) gives Abbotsford flexibility and the ability to grow its services.
“If we didn’t have [the civic precinct] the new courthouse going up wouldn’t be here. It probably would be in a different city and that would be sad.”
The 10 properties sit in a small rectangle of homes squished between Justice Way, Tims Street and George Ferguson Way. The homes are directly west of the city’s main fire hall and north of a new, and supposedly temporary, parking lot.
The houses mostly date to the early 1970s, and the city already owned half of them by mid-2018, when The News received a list of all city properties through a freedom of information request.
The other five have been purchased over the past two years, with four of the buys occurring last year. The sale price is publicly available for two of the properties. One was bought for $840,000 last October, according to Assessment BC. The assessed value of the home was $585,600. was bought for $850,000 in November 2018. The property had been assessed at $659,500 the previous July.
The city’s plans for the area weren’t held too close to its chest. Last fall, a group of elementary school students pitched ideas for the block – including the parking lot south of the newly purchased properties.
He also suggested that the city would likely be interested in the ICBC property at the far northeastern corner of the block, should that Crown corporation decide to move to another location.
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