LETTER: Development should be judged on contribution to community

The only 'folly that will be long lamented after the fact' would be the commitment to an outdated car-oriented development strategy...

I am deeply troubled by the level of misinformation presented in Mark Rushton’s recent column “Jobs bring people and economic benefit.”

I am curious as to how Mr. Rushton believes council is “delaying” the process. So far, Abbotsford’s city council has followed the legislative process of three readings while allowing time to collect community input. In other words, they are fulfilling their obligations to the law and to their constituents. In fact, there seems to be very little delay as the construction process has been underway weeks before a final decision has even been made.

Mr. Rushton also suggests that the jobs and economic spin-off are key reasons for this development. Sure, the temporary construction jobs would be great, but after the project is complete we’re left with mostly minimum wage retail jobs. This is hardly sufficient to support an individual, let alone a family. The idea that this project will provide economic spin-off is optimistic at best and a myth at worst. Just look at how well that has worked around the Abbotsford Centre, where similar promises were made.

Perhaps the most damning part of Mr. Rushton’s editorial is his complete failure to understand and articulate UFV’s growth strategy. His view is based on misinformation and speculation. As I formerly worked with UFV on the UDistrict project, I can assure readers that UFV is committed to development around the Abbotsford campus. The unprecedented partnership between UFV and the city’s planning office for the UDistrict should provide a positive indication of this.

You need only look at a map to see there are many prime areas to develop within the defined neighbourhood. That same map will also show you the prison is not within the neighbourhood boundary. The constrictions of ALR and the freeway actually form a nice boundary given Abbotsford’s history of spreading out development.

The only “folly that will be long lamented after the fact” would be the commitment to an outdated car-oriented development strategy along a major transit corridor. Abbotsford has plenty of large strip malls and it’s time we asked for something better. The quality of a development shouldn’t merely be judged on its purported capacity to create jobs, but rather how it contributes to the health and attractiveness of the community in which it will reside.

Derrick Swallow


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