A crowd of almost 100 farmers and Sumas Prairie residents came to Abbotsford council on Monday night to again voice their objections to a 31-lot single-family development being proposed on the northwest slope of Vedder Mountain.
This is the second time in just over a year that a public hearing has been held on the proposed development.
Council is considering a request for zoning changes that would allow Hayes Creek Valley Enterprises, owned by Anthony Penner, to subdivide the properties located in the 41100 to 41300 block of Old Yale Road.
In August 2010, council rejected the application after the first public hearing attracted a similar crowd of protesters. An application in 2005 was also turned down.
“We, as farmers, should not have to go through this ordeal – now three times – again,” said Peter Rau.
He said the development will do harm to farmers for generations to come.
Most of the speakers’ concerns centred around issues of drainage, increased traffic and urban sprawl.
“This is not good development, it’s not smart development,” said Aird Flavelle, who believes it will cost too much to provide such an isolated development with police and other services.
“It’s an extreme example of urban sprawl … we don’t want to do this.”
Jim van Dongen said “traffic is a serious issue” and will affect the local farms. He said drivers don’t seem to know what to do when faced with farm machinery on the road.
Perhaps the biggest concern was runoff from the development possibly flooding the farmlands below.
Peter Schouter owns 800 acres in Sumas Prairie and said he has to test every ditch around his property to ensure food-safety standards.
“If one of them fails, I can’t ship my product.
“There are big issues with flooding and food safety … it could put us out of business.”
Speaking on behalf of the developer, Carson Noftle told council that the farmers all made valid points.
But he also feels there is a strong argument in favour of the project. He pointed to the need for diverse, distinctive neighbourhoods and a “full range of housing opportunities.”
He also pointed out that Abbotsford is known as the city in the country.
“These will be truly rural lots,” he said.
He also said the land in question has already been cleared, in 2005, and the projects calls for a modern drainage system to handle runoff concerns.
As for urban sprawl and city services, Noftle told council the project is a 19-minute drive to Sevenoaks Shopping Centre – the same time it takes to get from the shopping centre to Auguston.
The city will vote on the project during its Nov. 7 meeting.