The latest proposal to develop Hatzic Ridge was shot down by district council with a split vote at Monday night’s meeting.
“[The proposal] could be precedent setting. It could change the entire nature of Hatzic,” said Coun. Jenny Stevens.
Developer Omega and Associates Engineering Ltd. proposed to build 206 single-family residential units and a 24-unit gated townhome complex in the north Hatzic area of Mission, located at 8977 and 8990 West Edwards St. Each lot would be 0.2 acres. The plan is contrary to the Official Community Plan (OCP), which designates the area as rural residential, and the developer has applied for an OCP amendment for the area.
Omega is the latest in a line of four different developers in the last decade wanting to establish a suburban enclave in the area. The last developer received approval in 2012 for 109 single-family lots, with 0.8 acres each. Omega has district permission to continue development that conforms with the 2012 zoning and the rural residential OCP designation.
Omega representative Ken Radom told council at a presentation: “We’ve served our time. We’ve simply been looking at this thing forever, and we’ve been going around and around the mulberry bush and we’re going to get this thing done.”
District senior planner Dan Sommer explained that the issue with the 230-unit proposal was one of land use, and whether this is right area to be constructing a dense residential suburb at this time.
The area is unserviced and remote. The access road is insufficient for the needs of the large development. Even though Omega offered to cover all costs of installing water and sewer systems, Sommer was concerned about the potential long-term costs of meeting the needs of hundreds of residents in such a remote area, including the provision of not just basic utilities, but also transportation, police and fire services, schools and recreation centres.
As he noted in a staff report, the proposal is “automobile oriented, isolated” and “does not meet the sustainable planning principles of providing for managed, orderly growth in order to build Mission into a more complete community.”
District of Mission staff recommended that council reject the proposal, and placed three options before councillors: (1) deny the application outright; (2) seek public input through a public information meeting in north Hatzic; or (3) direct district staff to continue processing the application.
“He’s kind of off the chosen grid, but it’s not the first time it’s happened in this community,” said Mayor Ted Adlem. “I’m kind of torn of whether we should be supporting it or shouldn’t be supporting it, but certainly not in favour of option one. I think the public should have a serious input into this thing.”
Coun. Jeff Jewell called it a “pie in the sky” proposal during a time when “the market is not booming.” He added that the development would draw buyers away from Cedar Valley, an area where the district has made substantial infrastructure investments and where developers haven’t completed construction because of the stagnant economic climate.
Couns. Jewell, Stevens, Nelson Tilbury, and Larry Nundal voted for rejecting the application. Couns. Tony Luck, Dave Hensman, and Adlem voted for seeking public input.
Sommer warned that before the district considers any future applications to introduce higher density residential development in North Hatzic, it should review the OCP or conduct a separate neighbourhood plan to determine whether dense development should be in north Hatzic at all.