Two proposed towers on Gladwin will go to public hearing

Residents concerned about development of 26-storey towers in their neighbourhood

An artist's rendition of two proposed 26-storey towers that would be built at 3068 Gladwin Road.

An artist's rendition of two proposed 26-storey towers that would be built at 3068 Gladwin Road.

A proposal to build two 26-storey towers on Gladwin Road, between George Ferguson Way and Maclure Road, has neighbouring residents concerned about the impact on their community.

A public hearing will be held at the regular meeting of city council on April 8, allowing public comment on the zoning bylaw amendment for the site.

Local resident Paul Bradbury plans on attending. As a resident of a townhouse that backs onto the neighbouring Horn Creek, he is concerned about the proposal.

“They are having to bend quite a number of city bylaws.”

The bylaw amendments that will go before council are designed to accommodate the proposed mix of commercial and residential use for the site. If passed, the changes would allow the development to have reduced parking requirements, and increase population density with the construction of two high-rise apartments and low-rise townhouses totalling 900 units on the 9.6-acre site.

Bradbury is concerned that reducing the number of parking spots for residents will lead to insufficient on-site parking and increased street parking in his neighbourhood. The proposal seeks to reduce the overall number of required spots by 13 per cent. A city report states that staff support the reduction due to the site’s proximity to city centre.

Bradbury met with his strata council and said many of his neighbours share his concerns.

“The general feeling I get from

everyone around here is that it is just a ridiculous suggestion to put these two high-rises in the middle of this low-rise residential area.”

These would not be the only apartment towers in the neighbourhood – there are three 17-storey towers at the corner of Gladwin and Maclure roads. However, Bradbury said those building are far enough away that they don’t have much of an impact on the townhouses that make up much of the community.

Bradbury said the new development will be “totally out of place,” and have a population density that is too high for the area.

“This is almost a 10-acre parcel. If they get 900 units, with two people in each, that’s 1,800 people living on a 10-acre lot.”

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.

Louise Oppel, a nearby resident at Trafalgar Street and Maclure Road, is concerned about the environmental impact from the development on neighbouring Horn Creek, which she said is fish-bearing.

“Just because its not quite in my backyard, doesn’t mean I’m not concerned about it.”

Katherine Jeffcoatt, director of communication for the City of Abbotsford, said the developer undertook a number of environmental assessments of the creek, receiving approval from both the city and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The developer is required to do environmental monitoring during construction, complete restoration work around the pond, 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 16 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.

The original proposal for a 28-storey Mahogany at Mill Lake tower was voted down by council in 2009, following public outcry. A group of neighbours who dubbed themselves “The Sun People,” due to the shadow the tower would cast on their homes, came out in hundreds to protest each step of the project. The proposal was then reduced to a 26-storey tower, which council approved, with four councillors and then-mayor George Peary voting for the project, and four councillors against.

Abbotsford has dealt with the issue of building new towers since signing 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.

The public hearing for the proposed bylaw amendments for the Gladwin site will be held Monday, April 8 at 7 p.m. at Matsqui Centennial Auditorium.