5 reasons why We Town would be a good idea & 5 reasons why it might not work

Developer says We Town could be economic boon; Consultant says many questions unanswered

The We Town concept envisioned for the west side of Sumas Mountain has tremendous potential, but more than a few question marks.

The developer says the project has the chance to turn Abbotsford into a major tech hub. Eric Vance, an independent consultant, looked into the project for the city and wrote an extensive report on the idea that illustrates how the concept could transform Abbotsford – or never get built.

Read more: Futuristic development on Abbotsford hillside met with optimism, skepticism

Five reasons for optimists:

1. A new high-tech hub:

“Employment space purpose-built for large hi-tech employers will form the overwhelming majority of office space at WeTown. It is anticipated that the opportunity to locate to purpose-built space situated in a picturesque community with abundant housing – while still within a large metro area – will prove attractive to large multinational tech firms, and will therefore result in BC attracting large tech operations at a higher rate than in the absence of WeTown. In turn, being home to a higher proportion of large firms will result in more competitive rates of innovation.” – Auguston Town Developments Inc.

2. Abbotsford could become a “smart city”:

“Built with smart infrastructure, including ICT infrastructure and IoT, WeTown will be a showcase of what an intelligent community is and is poised to help the City of Abbotsford grow into a smart city.” – Auguston Town Developments Inc.

3. Spurring innovation:

“The size of the site renders it possible to build space for virtually any desired size of research institution and/or university. Additionally, co-location with major hi-tech firms should spur a virtuous circle of collaboration, partnerships, and innovation. For example, WeTown could facilitate the local agriculture industry to adopt new technologies to enhance its productivity and economic competitiveness.”

“In providing space for research, academic, incubation, and large-scale office uses on the same site, WeTown presents a clean-slate opportunity to construct an environment designed to facilitate the integrated approach necessary for Abbotsford and BC to take positions as economic leaders in the short, medium, and long terms.” – Auguston Town Developments Inc.

4. Attracting a large tech company

“The single most important component of WeTown’s success is the attraction of a large, highly recognized office tenant in the technology field, which serves as a catalyst for attracting subsequent tenants and spurring additional development … North America is replete with examples of technology clusters forming outside the downtown of metropolitan areas, often of a very similar distance as Abbotsford to Vancouver.” – Auguston Town Developments Inc.

5. Fewer drivers, more people walking, biking and taking the bus

“The design concept of a self-contained community at WeTown offers the opportunity to achieve the targeted mode shift from single occupancy vehicles to other sustainable modes including walking, cycling and transit.” – Auguston Town Developments Inc.

Five reasons for skepticism

1. Up-front infrastructure costs

“The concept, in essence, creates a second ‘City Centre’ that is currently not connected to the City’s primary transit corridor and in a location that would require significant municipal infrastructure upgrades not anticipated in the OCP or recently completed master plans” – City staff

2. More commuters than anticipated

“WeTown also assumes that 82% of the housing units will be occupied by people working and studying on the site. It is questionable that such a percentage would choose to live on site given the narrow housing choice selection and the lack of rapid transit. There is no other urban centre, neighbourhood, or community in the Lower Mainland with such a high proportion; the City of Vancouver, for example, is the highest in the region at 68%.” – City staff

3. Uncertain ongoing costs

“A significant share of the initial costs might be borne directly by the developer through mechanisms such as development cost charges and school site acquisition charges, but the ongoing operation, maintenance, asset replacement and other costs would be borne by the City and other public agencies. The WeTown proposal does not address the fiscal impacts of delivering and operating these amenities.” – Eric Vance

4. Back to the drawing board

“The City has just completed its OCP update, along with a number of master plans, which together drive much of the City’s financial planning. WeTown would require reopening many of these plans, which would consume significant City resources.” – Eric Vance

5. A pipeline:

“There is also a Trans Mountain pipeline crossing the site that is not addressed in the Auguston report nor are geotechnical conditions discussed.” – Eric Vance

6. Competing centres:

“WeTown does not align well with the goals of focussing on the continued development of the Urban Core, especially City Centre, creating a compact community and providing a variety of housing options.”

“WeTown would therefore create what would essentially be a second City Centre in Abbotsford seven miles (11 kilometres) from the existing City Centre. Abbotsford’s City Centre is centrally located within the community. In comparison, a second City Centre at WeTown would be on the Sumas mountainside on the eastern edge of the Urban Development Boundary. It would be relatively isolated and would generally not serve a broader area beyond the Auguston neighbourhood.” – Eric Vance

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Construction worker injured after boom lift falls over at new Abbotsford courthouse

Emergency crews rescue worker, rushed to hospital with significant but non-life threatening injuries

Borrow $8 billion for Fraser Valley rail link, Abbotsford mayor urges province

Henry Braun urges province to borrow billions to connect Abbotsford & Chilliwack to Metro Vancouver

Mission Outlaws extend unbeaten streak to seven

Mission ties Port Moody 6-6 on Saturday, remain in second place

Abbotsford’s rolled-over dairy truck lost 40,000 litres of milk, recovery valued at over $500,000

Truck removed Sunday, Jan. 19, with specialized equipment to upright vehicle

Pooches Jasper and Jake bring comfort to Abbotsford Police Department

Comfort dogs there for cuddles and play time when needed

Victoria police arrest 12 anti-pipeline protesters supporting Wet’suwet’en

‘We are unarmed, they have guns,’ protesters chanted on Wednesday morning

‘Naughty boy’: Monty Python star Terry Jones dies at 77

The comedian has been suffering from a rare form of dementia

Four things ‘not’ to do if you run into Prince Harry and Meghan in B.C.

Here is a list of some things you definitely should NOT do, according to the BBC

Harry and Meghan should cover their own security costs: NDP heritage critic

The prince, Meghan Markle and their eight-month-old son Archie are reportedly staying at a mansion near Victoria

Theo the 800-pound pig trimmed down and still looking for love on Vancouver Island

“He’s doing really well, lost quite a few pounds and can run now.”

One dead following pedestrian collision in South Surrey’s Campbell Heights

Incident occurred just after 7 a.m. on 24 Avenue near 188 Street

Horgan unveils B.C. cabinet shuffle changes

Premier John Horgan has made three major changes to his cabinet

Dog reunited with Tofino owner, months after being taken from beach

Shannon Boothman ‘ecstatic’ at pet’s return after a tip leads to social media search

B.C.’s first ride-hailing app to launch in Tofino, Whistler in February

The Whistle! app will be available in Tofino on Feb.1 and in Whistler Feb. 6.

Most Read