We Town, as envisioned by the developers, would be home to nearly 30,000 people and 18,000 workers. But an independent consultant cast a skeptic eye at the proposal.

We Town, as envisioned by the developers, would be home to nearly 30,000 people and 18,000 workers. But an independent consultant cast a skeptic eye at the proposal.

We Town concept shelved by Abbotsford council

Narrow vote against futuristic concept after planning costs revealed

Abbotsford council voted Monday afternoon to shelve an idea to build a massive collection of high-rises on the western slopes of Sumas Mountain in Abbotsford.

The developer of the Auguston neighbourhood had given the city a conceptual plan to build a neighbourhood that it said would house nearly 30,000 people and become a high-tech employment hub.

Council first saw the proposal in October, when an independent consultant said the idea could provide a massive economic boost but came with myriad unanswered questions and several potential obstacles.

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At the time, council voted to include the concept within a planning process about to start for the surrounding area, although Mayor Henry Braun and two councillors opposed further consideration of We Town, saying it clashed with Abbotsford’s Official Community Plan, which was adopted in 2016.

On Monday, council was told that considering the concept in planning work would add at least $675,000 to the cost of that project and delay several other initiatives. Braun spoke for nearly 20 minutes, telling fellow councillors that the concept was in the wrong place and that by proposing the creation of a second city centre, the idea would undermine work to densify and transform Abbotsford’s existing commercial core.

Couns. Dave Loewen and Kelly Chahal – both of whom voted in October to include the concept in planning work – shifted to the anti-We Town camp, while Couns. Brenda Falk and Ross Siemens remained opposed. That slim five-vote majority was enough to doom a budget amendment required for the resources needed to continue pursuing the We Town concept.

Couns. Patricia Ross, Bruce Banman, Sandy Blue and Les Barkman voted to continue considering the We Town concept, with Banman and Blue saying the cost was minimal, given the potential payoff.

Planning work will now move forward as originally anticipated, without the inclusion of the We Town concept.

Watch abbynews.com on Tuesday and check out Wednesday’s paper for more.