By AmbrÖse Bierce. The decision by Abbotsford City Council to create a whole new zoning for agricultural sales and retail (N36) in the middle of a residential-zoned area is a decision which some say could only happen in Abbotsford.
It’s almost as if a single landowner is holding the rest of Abbotsford residents up for ransom by threatening to move his proposal for an Agri-Mall to Chilliwack if he isn’t allowed to build it in the middle of a residential zoned area at the corner of Atkinson and Eldridge.
There are six homeowners who will be at risk of losing the value of their homes as well as their quality of life during the building of the mall and Mckay Creek Park will likely be affected. The heavy trucks coming down the hill on Atkinson will become a hazard for farmers and customers getting into the Agri-Mall.
The property has burial grounds on it and City staff oppose the re-zoning [Ref]
City Staff Opposed
“After reviewing the proposed development and visiting the site, staff has a number of concerns and issues with the proposed Agri-Mall concept in the proposed location. Staff doesn’t recommend support for a single development application that in the opinion of staff will significantly influence the development of lands outside of the Urban Development Boundary. The proposed land use and zoning which would allow for the Agri-Mall concept is non-compatible with the existing Suburban Residential land use, and servicing the development proposal will be challenging due to the steep topography and distance from City services. The City is unable to provide industrial level water supply service, sanitary sewer, and fire protection requirements (see Attachment “J”).
Currently, the City is in the process of updating the Official Community Plan and is examining appropriate locations for agri-industrial use. Therefore, staff recommends that an examination of the long term land use in this area be completed within the context of the OCP review, as the analysis would be comprehensive as aspects such as market demand and servicing would be examined. In support of the proposal, the applicant has submitted detailed documents outlining the rationale for the proposed development, including how they will overcome serviCing issues. They have also provided letters of support.”
The city already had to purchase this property once for questionable activity. This is not the kind of planning we thought Bannman was talking about when he said we would be reviewing and fixing the Official Community Plan (OCP) and offering citizens and businesses openness and transparency.
- How is it possible that an environmentalist like Patricia Ross could support the damage to Mckay Creek Park?
- How could this landowner possibly move all of his potential tenants – most of which are established Abbotsford businesses with current, perfectly adequate locations – to Chilliwack if his land is in Abbotsford?
- Since when did City Council respond to threats – Oops; I forgot what City I was talking about?
- What is the rush about getting this done before the election? One of the supporters (John Smith) is retiring and another (Bruce Banman) appears destined to be a one-term mayor.
- How can developers be allowed to purchase properties, renovate them, advertise them for lease, fill them and then worry about getting the property rezoned? – Oops; I forgot what City I was talking about again.
- Why does one of the mayor’s closest political advisers call himself ‘Non-Permit-Paul?’
Just like the proposed re-zoning of the Gladys Avenue properties which Banman wants rushed through the planning process before the election so as, perhaps, to be seen to be trying to get the $15.3 million he refused from BC Housing last January, this is a bad decision and it should be put off until a new council without such a terrible planning reputation gets to have a look at it.
Most of this council will not likely be around to live with this decision. Those who stand a chance of getting re-elected should ensure they have a chance to look at this with clearer vision in a few weeks.
What possible difference could three weeks make in the long run anyway?
AmbrÖse Bierce is Today’s writer in residence who occasionally gives voice to the concerns of individual citizens and taxpayers who, for a variety of reasons, are unable or unwilling to take a public stand on issues of relevance to the rest of the community. Reasons may include possible loss of job, injury to their business, or any number of quite legitimate reasons to keep their mouths shut.
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