A proposed 879-unit development on South Fraser Way received approval from council Monday.

A proposed 879-unit development on South Fraser Way received approval from council Monday.

Council approves massive central Abbotsford development

Project would create 879 units of housing in a series of towers along South Fraser Way

A proposed development that would transform the face of Abbotsford’s city centre received a unanimous endorsement from council Monday.

Approval of rezoning for a five-acre site on the north side of South Fraser Way near Sevenoaks Shopping Centre should pave the way for the eventual construction of a series of large residential towers with more than 879 housing units of housing.

The first phase of construction would see twin 14-storey towers built to house up to 300 seniors in a facility managed by Mennonite Benevolent Society – the operator of Menno Place. Subsequent phases of development would see the construction of a nearby 30-storey tower, along with hundreds more rental apartment units available to the general public. The largest of the towers would also include significant commercial space.

The project would be built on a site currently occupied by Red Robin and 16 single-family lots, just northeast of the Bourquin Crescent/South Fraser Way intersection and adjacent to, but not including, a property currently occupied by a McDonalds.

The developer behind the project is Fred and Ella Strumpski’s Emco Developments. The Strumpskis have a long history of development in Abbotsford and involvement with Menno Place.

The proposal drew applause from councillors, who said the project will act as a catalyst for the city’s goal of establishing a denser, more walkable core.

Coun. Sandy Blue called it a “turning point” for the area, while Coun. Dave Loewen said it met the goals set out in the city’s official community plan, city centre neighbourhood plan and affordable housing strategy.

“It’s what we want for this part of our city,” he said.

Officials with Menno Place told council that the project would help address their organization’s growing waitlist, and the ongoing need for housing among seniors in Abbotsford.

“With the village located in central Abbotsford, seniors will have opportunity for health walks to Sevenoaks mall, to Mill Lake and to nearby restaurants and other public services,” Arnie Friesen, the chair of Menno Place, told council.

Architect Jason Letkeman said the project was designed with the city’s larger plans for the area in mind.

“The vision of this application is also to set an architectural landscape standard and precedent for the city centre and future development.”

To qualify for density bonuses that allow for larger buildings, covenants on 519 apartments will bar them from becoming strata units. That is meant to boost Abbotsford’s limited supply of rental housing.

But with 14 houses set for demolition as a result of the project, council also heard about the housing challenges set to face the renters of at least two of the 14 homes. Those homes had been rented at below-market rates, and although a property management company has offered to help occupants relocate – and the developer has promised extra money to help them do so – Abbotsford’s exceedingly tight housing market could make that impossible, council heard.

Kat Sloan said their eviction will force her and her husband, along with the businesses they operate, out of Abbotsford in order to find affordable housing. That will only compound financial difficulties brought on by COVID-19.

“I have made a home and a life here, I don’t want to start over,” Sloan said.

Another woman told council the amount she receives on disability won’t cover the cost of rent in Abbotsford.

“I can’t afford to live in some of these places I’ve looked for apartments,” she said, tearfully. “I still struggle every month just to feed myself, have a place to call home … I don’t know what to do.”

Addressing those about to be displaced, Mayor Henry Braun and Coun. Ross Siemens said council must make decisions in the best interest of the community, but that there is help for those about to be evicted.

“Be assured that this council doesn’t make these decisions with great glee to displace you, but we do have those concerns in mind,” Siemens said. He referred those about to be evicted to a community organization that tries to find housing for those facing homelessness.

If that doesn’t work, Braun said he might be able to find help.

“We’re not in the business of housing, but we do have networks and we do have the capability of connecting you with people who can help,” he said.

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Mia Skoone (left), with her cousin Gavin Nahal, has donated her birthday money to the ARH pediatrics unit for the past eight years. Now she is seeking sponsorships from local businesses to fund a UN conference she has been invited to. (Submitted)
One of Abbotsford’s most charitable youths seeking sponsors for conference trip

Abbotsford Senior Secondary School student Mia Skoone has been invited to UN event in May

Tabor Home in Abbotsford. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
COVID-19 outbreaks continue at 2 Abbotsford care homes

Tabor Home and Menno Home still battling the virus

Cottage-Worthington Pavilion
COVID-19 outbreak over at Abbotsford’s Cottage-Worthington Pavilion

Outbreak declared over at Fraser Health-run facility

The Abbotsford Centre hours before tip-off of the Fraser Valley Bandits debut in 2019. The arena saw no games from the Bandits in 2020 due to COVID-19. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Abbotsford Centre aims to rise from the ashes of 2020

After a strong 2019 and early-2020, COVID-19 hit the Abbotsford Centre hard

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon (Dec. 3) after an inmate escaped from corrections officers. The man was taken back into custody a short while later. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
UPDATE: Escapee in Abbotsford has twice been on the lam from authorities

Stephane Bissonnette escapes from corrections officers, but is arrested a short while later

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

Melissa David, of Parachutes for Pets and her dogs Hudson and Charlie are trying to raise money for a homeless shelter that will allow pets and are seen in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘My only wish:’ Children asking pet charity to help their furry friends at Christmas

Parachutes for Pets says it has received 14 letters from children in the last week t

Melissa Velden and her chef-husband Chris Velden, stand in their dining room at the Flying Apron Inn and Cookery in Summerville, N.S. on Friday, Nov. 20, 2020. The couple is hosting holiday parties with appropriate distancing and other COVID-19 health protocols in place at their restaurant. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Celebrities, Santa and Zoom part of office holiday parties being held amid COVID-19

Many will send tokens of appreciation to workers or offer time off or cash

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Most Read