A preview of Abbotsford’s new plan for its city centre along South Fraser Way lays out just how it will hope to break up the large blocks and parking lots that dominate the stretch of road.
Council got its first look last week at a draft neighbourhood plan for the area. The plan follows the 2016 Official Community Plan and stays true to that document’s vision of a denser, more pedestrian-friendly core with fewer parking lots and taller buildings.
While the changes envisioned in the document will only take place with development in the area and the support of future councils, the draft plan envisions a half-dozen new streets. Several of those streets would break the existing Sevenoaks Shopping Centre property into five different blocks.
Sevenoaks was sold last year for $214 million, after which the new owner suggested a desire to build mixed-use multi-storey buildings on parts of the property while retaining the mall itself. A new road would link Gladwin with Mill Lake Road, cutting through the parking lot on the southern half of the site. An extension of Hillcrest through to Bourquin Crescent is also included in the plan, although that would require a massive redevelopment of the mall itself.
Elsewhere, the plan foresees extending Emerson Street south from South Fraser Way through what is currently West Oaks Mall, and north from Simon Avenue to George Ferguson Way. Another road would run north from Magnolia Crescent south of Hillcrest, through what is now a strip mall, and eventually link with Cruickshank Street. Such roads through existing buildings won’t become a reality until the current owners of the properties in question decide to sell.
Often, developers looking to develop, subdivide or rezone properties will provide land to the city as contributions for either infrastructure improvements or to make variances from established policies more palatable.
The draft plan would also see Commercial Street closed and an extended Garden Street opened nearby, just to the west of what is now Save-On-Foods.
As foreshadowed by the OCP and subsequent reports, the draft plan suggests mandating dense multi-storey buildings for a broad swath of the city centre, ranging from the Old Yale Road/South Fraser Way intersection in the west to Bourquin Crescent in the east, and from Hillcrest Avenue in the south to George Ferguson Way in the north.
Mixed-use and commercial buildings will be concentrated along South Fraser Way and several retail streets, with residential buildings no shorter than four storeys tall ringing the area.
Council is expected to hear more about the draft city centre plan at a future meeting.
Another round of consultation will follow before council adopts a final plan. That document will guide future development, but any future council can vote to amend it as it wishes through a simple majority vote.