Application to build large house in ‘affordable’ neighbourhood rejected by council

Neighbours had said that allowing a house in an area previously designated for modular/mobile homes would change character of neighbourhoo

An application that would have allowed a larger house to be built in a neighbourhood of manufactured homes was denied by council on Monday.

Earlier this month, more than a dozen residents of Oakridge Crescent and surrounding area told council they worried that an application to build a larger home in their area would open the door to developers and spell the end for one of Abbotsford’s most affordable neighbourhoods.

The applicant, Jagjeet Gill, had asked the city to discharge a land-use contract that governs what type of buildings can be erected in the area, which is to the west of Clearbrook Road and south of Highway 1. The contracts, which date back to the early 1970s, override the city’s zoning, but municipalities around the province have been given until 2024 to dispose of all such contracts.

Residents worried that by disposing of the contract, the city would pave the way for property owners to erect larger, more-expensive houses in the area, where some properties are currently assessed below $200,000. Neighbours voiced concerns about increasing property taxes and more traffic, although others supported the application, noting that it did not require property owners to upgrade their houses.

“This neighbourhood, the way it is right now, is a very affordable neighbourhood, is a very unique neighbourhood,” Bryan Seebach told council at the time. “I would hate to see something like this to come into the neighbourhood and change the state of it, change the scope of it.”

Residents had asked for a deferral until council can re-evaluate the zoning for the area. The city has said it will review the zoning of the mobile home developments in conjunction with the next update to its zoning bylaw, which is expected to start this fall and will aim to align those policies with the recently adopted Official Community Plan.

Council had deferred their decision to Monday’s meeting, where they voted to reject the application. Coun. Moe Gill was in favour of the application, while Couns. Les Barkman and Patricia Ross were absent.