Two condos proposed for forested Abbotsford property

Developer wants to build two buildings just north of Hoon Park, along Marshall Road

A proposal to build two condo buildings on a heavily treed Marshall Road property will go to a public hearing.

A developer hopes to build a pair of six-storey buildings with a combined 120 apartments on a property on the northern end of Hoon Park, near Abbotsford Regional Hospital.

The development will see all 157 mature trees on the site removed. An arborist report says the majority of those are in “poor condition.” Another 11 would likely come down to a city right of way that divides the property from Hoon Park proper, and which would be used to extend of Holland Avenue through to what is now Lynn Crescent

The project would include 36 one-bedroom units, 72 two-bedroom apartments and 12 three-bedroom homes.

The development would also see entrances to Hoon Park cleaned up. Trails within the park would also be improved.

The proposal conforms with the Official Community Plan’s midrise designation for the site, and council voted unanimously Monday to forward the application to a public hearing.

Staff had recommended support, writing in a report: “The density, scale and built form are well suited to an urban core context, and the increase in residential density is very well placed in close proximity to a transit route and within a very walkable and amenity rich neighbourhood. The proposal will create a high quality urban design and public realm precedent for the area, which may likely influence future redevelopment in the area.”

Coun. Dave Loewen noted that the trees would be a loss, but added that most other homes in the city stand on land that was once similarly treed. He urged someone to document the site’s appearance prior to construction.

“While I wouldn’t stand in the way of this development, I do think people from time to time need to be reminded that we are all occupying space where valuable stands of trees just like this once stood.”

Coun. Patricia Ross, council’s most frequent public advocate for environmental causes, also voted to allow the project to proceed. But she expressed hope that a revised and stiffer tree bylaw – one that has been long in the making – would surface sooner rather than later.

“I want us to get this right rather than [done] quickly,” she said. “However, at the same time i’m getting very anxious because we have so many proposals in front of us every week that are proposing that are proposing removal of substantial trees.”

Coun. Ross Siemens, who had called for the creation of a tree management plan, said he too was concerned about the loss of the city’s urban forest cover. A report earlier this year suggested the city lost seven per cent of its urban forest cover between 2005 and 2015.

But he said he agreed with a staff report saying the project would set the tone for future development in the area.

Council was told that city staff will start work on an urban forestry plan and a possible tree management plan after work on the city’s parks, recreation and culture master plan wraps up this summer and in conjunction with revisions to development rules.

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