Public speaks out against proposed towers on Gladwin

Community members come to council to speak out against 26-storey high-rises

Kevin O'Shea

Kevin O'Shea

Residents of the Horn Creek Trail area came out to oppose a plan to build two 26-storey towers on Gladwin Road at a public hearing on Monday.

About 100 community members attended the hearing, with residents speaking against a bylaw zoning amendment for the residential and commercial development at 3068 Gladwin Rd., between George Ferguson Way and Maclure Road.

The developer is seeking a group of bylaw amendments that would allow for a mix of commercial, residential and office space on the site, as well as reduce the parking requirements on the site by 13 per cent. The site would contain about 900 residential units on a 9.6-acre parcel.

Joyce Harrison, who lives in one of the existing 17-storey Regency Park towers on Gladwin, encouraged council “not to trade trees for towers,” saying that the Horn Creek area is a “green-space gem.”

Paul Bradbury, who resides in a neighbouring townhouse, provided council with a petition with 75 signatures in opposition to the proposal. He said he is concerned by the high density of the development, which will be 10 times higher than the neighbouring homes.

Donna Martin, a neighbouring resident, said the city’s zoning bylaw already allows for limited parking spots and reducing that number will be a problem.

Kevin O’Shea said he was not opposed to development, but asked council to consider properties in downtown Abbotsford and on South Fraser Way as more appropriate for high-density projects.

Several people also complained that the towers would block their views.

Colin Hogan, the project’s architect, said he was pleased to see community members engaged with the project, but he wanted to clear up some misconceptions.

Hogan said the site was previously rezoned to allow for six towers, a plan that was approved but put aside when the developer ran into financial difficulties. He said the current proposal from the developers – Ron Funk and Kevin Wiebe – is actually a “down-zoning,” and has 15 per cent less square footage than what could be built under the site’s current zoning.

Hogan said the proposed 3,000 square metres of retail space and 2,000 square metres of office space will be a benefit to the community. He said the neighbourhood is already one of the most dense areas in Abbotsford and the development would benefit the existing community, as “there are a lot of people who would benefit from having services there.”

Hogan said the project will be built in phases and will take from five to seven years, explaining that the towers will be built last.

The neighbourhood has the existing apartment towers at the corner of Gladwin and Maclure roads.

Part of the proposal states the developer will create a 1.75-acre public green space, featuring an open field, a children’s play area and a viewing area platform for the pond that is on-site, adjacent to Horn Creek trail.

The developer undertook a number of environmental assessments of the neighbouring Horn Creek, receiving approval from both the city and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Environmental monitoring is required during construction, along with complete restoration work around the pond. The developer must ensure the storm water management plan meets fisheries’ requirements and conduct a two-year follow up to ensure the restoration works are functioning as intended.

Currently, the tallest building in Abbotsford is 17 storeys, but  the city has approved a 26-storey high-rise at Gladwin Road and Bevan Ave, near Mill Lake. The development, called Mahogany at Mill Lake, was approved in 2010 and is in the process of being built.

Abbotsford has dealt with the issue of building new towers since approving its new Official Community Plan – a 20-year planning vision for the city – in 2005.

That document called for higher-density housing in the city centre to reduce spread into the Agricultural Land Reserve to the west, or Sumas Mountain to the east.