Residents have raised some valid questions about a major development slated for McCallum Road and Hwy. 1.
The proposed project would cover 130,000 sq. ft, more than half of which would be a Cabela’s outfitters store.
At a public hearing on the project Monday night, an astute resident pointed out that the Cabela’s website indicates an Abbotsford store is “coming soon” (albeit noting that council approval is still required.) And on the website of a developer selling homes near the site is a statement that McCallum Junction will be opening in late 2015.
As proposed, the entire development would involve about 80 per cent commercial and 20 per cent residential. That’s virtually a reverse of the building mix proportion outlined in the existing Official Community Plan (OCP). The city is also in the process of creating a new OCP, which ostensibly includes the concept of “walkable, livable” communities. City staff have noted this project may adversely impact that objective.
Public hearings are a key stage in the development process, during which residents have an opportunity to present supporting and opposing views. Upon consideration, councils can accept a proposal, reject it, or require changes.
Abbotsford council has yet to give a final vote on this plan. There are many good reasons to proceed with the project as proposed – key among them the new jobs and economic growth brought by the businesses which would establish at the site.
However, given the apparent advanced stages of anticipation by the anchor tenant and homebuilders, along with the major amendment required for the community plan, some people are asking if this is essentially a done deal.
That perception casts a shadow on the purpose and credibility of public hearings, and council’s commitment to an updated OCP.
The mayor and council would do well to address both concerns when announcing their decision on this project.