New infill subdivisions where one property is split into two are on hold, but those already underway, like this one on Bakerview Street, can proceed. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

New infill subdivisions where one property is split into two are on hold, but those already underway, like this one on Bakerview Street, can proceed. Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News

Abbotsford halts new infill subdivisions as it awaits new rules

Push for denser neighbourhoods has met some resistance

The city has halted future small subdivisions amid concern from residents about how the city is densifying in central areas.

Council decided Monday not to hear any more applications to rezone land across a broad swath of central Abbotsford until staff come up with new rules that may address issues such as parking, secondary suites and house sizes.

The halt comes after concerns from residents at past public hearings about the pace of change and the character of new homes being built.

Related: when density knocks: As Abbotsofrd neighbourhoods change, some residents resist

Around 5,600 homes are located in areas designated by the 2016 Official Community for “infill,” where the subdivision of lots is allowed to enable more housing. Such activity often takes the form of a developer splitting a single lot into two, or two lots into three. It also allows for duplexes.

Promotion of densification is a key principle in the city’s Official Community Plan, but it has also prompted some concern about “overfill.”

“I think, for the most part, the community is changing and people aren’t opposed to the transformation of their neighbourhoods,” Coun. Brenda Falk said Monday. “I think the challenge is … that transition time: when all of a sudden the neighbourhood’s changing and you don’t feel like you fit anymore, and yet you’ve invested in your home.”

In January, 36 applications for such subdivisions that hadn’t yet come before council were placed on hold following a motion by Coun. Sandy Blue. Council decided Monday to allow those to proceed, but to suspend future applications until staff complete a study of the issue and develop zoning recommendations to govern the size and width of lots and houses, along with rules for parking, density and setbacks.

“We’re hearing what the neighbourhoods are saying and I think this is giving us a little breathing space,” Coun. Ross Siemens said.

That process is expected to be finished by the summer, but staff have already been collecting info on the housing in the neighbourhoods. Council got a first look Monday at that research.

It showed that in the neighbourhoods seeing the most change, older houses sit on land that has dramatically increased in value in recent years. In some areas, the value of the land is up to 10 times that of the buildings; by comparison, new homes frequently are valued equally to the land on which they sit.

 

Abbotsford halts new infill subdivisions as it awaits new rules