A new bus depot on Gladys Avenue received approval from council last Monday, despite opposition from some nearby residents.
BC Transit wants to build a $28 million facility on two parcels of land near the Sumas Way/Highway 11 junction.
The new depot would provide space for up to 100 buses, and could be expanded further in the future. It would also include a fueling station to allow for the use of buses that run on compressed natural gas (CNG).
The existing Riverside Road depot is at capacity, curtailing the city’s wishes to improve Abbotsford’s transit system. (The city is already looking at alterations to routes to improve efficiencies along main corridors.)
But before construction begins, the property needed to be rezoned by the city. And a public hearing for that step showed that some residents of a nearby neighbourhood are unhappy about the new depot’s location.
Three McCrimmon Drive residents spoke against the application, including Dave Pellikaan, who said the new facility would result in noise and light pollution.
“We do not want it, it’s not suitable,” he said. “We’re going to push to have it stopped.”
Residents are also worried that pile-driving on the site could crack the foundations of their homes.
But Desi Thomas, BC Transit’s project manager, said the noise issue has been considered and will be minor. The CNG vehicles, he said, are quieter than traditional buses. The buses will also only be running on site for a short time. Another BC Transit representative confirmed the organization has a no-idling policy.
Lights, he said, would be pointed toward the facility, with “spray” minimized.
“We don’t anticipate that the development will increase the surrounding areas’ noise greater than the current levels generated from traffic on Gladys Avenue and Sumas Way,” a spokesperson later told The News in an email. “We strive to be good neighbours, and will work hard to limit unnecessary and excessive noise.”
Officials also said BC transit will hire professional contractors to construct the facility and that there shouldn’t be an impact on the surrounding area.
Council voted unanimously to approve the project. Mayor Henry Braun recused himself from the decision because he owned an interest in a neighbouring property.
Coun. Dave Loewen noted that the site, which was zoned for industrial uses, would inevitably have seen some sort of development.
“Construction was destined for this site,” he said. Loewen said that if the building of a major church even closer to the neighbourhood didn’t rattle foundations, the transit depot construction also probably won’t.
His colleagues agreed, expressing confidence that disruption to residents will be minor.