Council’s prediction on how a single-family neighbourhood would react to a massive development proposal turned out to be correct.
A public hearing on March 22 brought out many voices in fierce opposition to the application, which sought approval on a three-building, 152-unit complex situated on the 33000 block of 10th Avenue and the 7700 block of Stave Lake Street. There was a petition with 175 signatures, and 24 letters submitted urging the council to reject the application.
“We certainly have a way to go to see newer development in this area,” said Coun. Danny Plecas. “I do understand the frustration when people are imposed upon with big developments like this. It seems kind of awkward and out of place, and I believe it is out of place.”
Council voted against the application unanimously, but acknowledged the proposal “checks all the boxes” in the OCP guidelines. They’ve asked staff to prepare an update on their current planning initiatives for local area plans in Mission.
Neighbours’ concerns included traffic increases and safety; the building’s height, location, architecture, and density; parking and infrastructure; a lack of consultation; environmental threats to a fish-bearing stream; property values decreasing; changing the character of the neighbourhood; and local schools already operating at capacity.
The petition was organized by Pascale-Sara Frenette, who lives several doors down from the development. She said that they want a concrete area plan for their neighbourhood.
“We understand and accept that changes and development is happening, however we want to have a say in what is happening in our backyard,” Frenette said. “Work with us on building objectives and strategies and standards, so future developments in this area will be a benefit to all and not a dysfunctional patchwork.”
She said if developers want to build projects in their family oriented area, council needs to ensure they invest in modernizing the roads, which currently lack adequate sidewalks, street lamps, traffic lights and crosswalks.
Several speakers said they’d received very little (or no) details on the project until the beginning of March, with some saying they thought the land would be developed into townhouses.
Terry Fabretti said the six-storey tower will face directly towards his property, describing it as an “eyesore.” He said they moved to the area from Langley six years ago to escape this type of development.
He added there is already heavy traffic using 10th Avenue to turn left on Dunsmuir Street, and increasing that traffic was “an accident waiting to happen.”
Christopher Ross, who represented the group behind the development, said neighbourhood changes are always controversial and emotional.
“When people look at long-time visions of where they have lived, where they’ve grown up, or where they spent some time – whether they’ve been there 25 years or two years – they’re resistant to change,” he said.
When the group bought the property in 2017, part of its appeal was the close proximity to three schools, the theatre, the satellite University, a daycare center, Heritage Park and retail shopping, according to Ross.
“This is where you would normally want densified populations to go,” he said.
While he conceded there are legitimate traffic and parking concerns, he said these are challenges all over the Lower Mainland, adding the application had 25 parking stalls over the requirement and they had conducted a traffic-impact study.
Councillors were in agreement the neighbourhood needs a local area plan to avoid future conflicts, as there are several large parcels of land in the area planned for development in the future. Coun. Plecas and Coun. Carol Hamilton also expressed a desire for a traffic study along Dunsmuir Street.
Other developments of similar scale received almost no negative feedback, said Coun. Mark Davies, giving the example of the six-building complex on 7th Avenue and Hurd. He said it’s because locals knew what to expect, while this development “came a bit out of the blue.”