Rising house prices will push up cost of final Mill Lake acquisitions

Only four homes remain in acquisition plan, but last one cost the City of Abbotsford nearly $1 million

Spiking house prices will likely make the city’s plan to further expand the boundaries of Mill Lake Park significantly more expensive.

For decades, the City of Abbotsford has been buying properties around the jewel of its parks system. The focus in recent years has been on buying homes north and west of the Bevan and Ware intersection – where the city envisions the construction of a prominent park entrance – along with single-family houses squeezed between Sevenoaks Shopping Centre and the lake’s northern edge.

Over the last 15 years, around 20 homes have already been bought in those areas, with just four remaining.

But although just a handful of properties remain, the dramatic jump in home prices looks set to force the city to spend considerably more to round out its collection.

Earlier this year, the city shelled out $965,000 to buy the home and property at 2450 Lindale Street in 2018, according to figures obtained by The News through a freedom of information request. The home had been one of two remaining Lindale properties not yet owned by the city, and was immediately adjacent to the park.

The purchase price of the single property was more than the combined purchase price in 2013 for a pair of homes on Adanac Street, just southeast of Mill Lake Park. Those two homes cost $400,000 and $446,000, while another bought a year earlier had been purchased for just $300,000 – less than one-third the price of 41-year-old Lindale home.

Of the four remaining homes, three are located along Adanac Street, with the fourth located immediately north of the recently bought Lindale address.

Between 2016 and 2018, the assessed value of the four remaining properties increased from $1.5 million in 2016 to $2.8 million last year. But that’s just the assessed value. The recent Lindale property was bought for more than $170,000 more than its latest assessment.

The homes are bought as they become available, and a city official told The News last year that the future purchase of the Lindale house and two more properties had been included in budgeting. The rest are part of the city’s long-term acquisition strategy. In 2003, the city vowed not to expropriate properties after residents voiced concern about the possibility.

Abbotsford’s new parks masterplan makes clear the acquisition plan remains on the books.

Mayor Henry Braun said council expects to hear more about improvements to the park in 2019.

And he hailed the foresight of the previous councils that put the acquisition plans in place in order to improve the park.

“I am glad that they had the foresight to look ahead to a community that would be much bigger than it was,” he said.

Acquiring all the properties could help the city achieve two long-standing goals involving Mill Lake Park. Owning all the properties Lindale and Mill Lake Road would allow the city to relocate parking and free up the valuable lake frontage cars currently occupy. The city’s City Centre Neighbourhood Plan envisions the creation of a plaza in the area currently used for parking.

And in the Adanac Street area, at the park’s southeastern edge, the purchase of the properties would allow for the creation of a prominent park entrance at the corner of Bevan and Ware. With two properties there not on the radar for immediate purchase, it’s unclear when that dream could become a reality.

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