Wren Creek development receives approval despite opposition

Carhoun project gets third reading with unanimous vote

A divided audience packed council chambers Monday evening as proponents of the $80-million Wren Creek development argued in favour of jobs and taxes, while opponents warned against irreparably damaging the environment.

Roughly 30 people voiced their thoughts about the project before council voted 7-0 to approve third reading.

“I want you to really think about when you destroy something, like our wetlands, like our ravines, like our species at-risk, when we destroy what is unique and precious in our world, we never have it again,” said resident Catherine MacDonald.

Support and opposition to the development was divided right up the middle, with half speaking in favour and another 12 who couldn’t accept the application in its current form, mostly citing environmental concerns.

“If this council is serious in its commitment to demonstrate that the District of Mission is open for business and that council focused on bringing property tax relief to residents, then approval of this proposal should be a no-brainer,” said Cory Cassel.

Although many people took their five-minute time allotment to speak about environmental worries of developing 32 acres of the property, Mayor Ted Adlem surprised the room by saying the public hearing was just a land use question and that questions about the environment should be directed to senior levels of government.

The Wren Creek proposal first applied for a variance in June 2009, which spurred a Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA) screening, including investigation from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) to confirm that no harmful alteration or destruction of fish habitat would occur on the site.

That process took nearly three years to complete, with DFO concluding in February that the project is “not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects,” though DFO took into account the proponent’s mitigation plan, which includes purchasing the nearby Sun Valley Trout Park, to be converted into a fish habitat preserve.

Getting environmental approval had been tricky, with Environment Canada noting the area is a known habitat for 10 federally endangered species, while specifically the provincially red-listed Oregon Forestsnail had been found on the site.

But Adlem said there’s a double standard between those projects from government agencies which receive quick environmental approval, and private businesses who are given the run around.

“If you happen to be a part of [the government] and you have a project, instead of double talk you get double speed,” he said, referring to the speedy approval for the widening of the Lougheed Highway between Wren and Nelson streets nearby the developer’s property.

Several people tried to bridge the chasm between new tax dollars and the environment, suggesting the development should be limited to the eastern portion of the site, and kept away from the Silverdale wetlands which it borders.

“I believe that we can have a development like this and we can work together to collaborate to answer as many of the environmental issues as possible, knowing the benefit of the economic and the social issues,” said Barb Strachan.

Rebuffing claims the development will only bring in minimum wage jobs, former councillor Mike Scudder said, “I know what it’s like to have a mother lose her job when Eaton’s moved to Abbotsford. And it was probably the equivalent of a McJob in its day. But that job sustained our family when my father was working three different jobs and my mother was working one,” he said to applause.

The environment wasn’t the only thing people spoke out against. Former councillor Heather Stewart, who voted against the now-approved development at Cedar Street and Lougheed Highway because it included two drive-thru restaurants, said she likes the Wren Creek idea but will not support another drive-thru.

The application is submitted under the comprehensive development zone to allow for two drive-thrus, which skirts around the district’s own bylaw prohibiting them. Two previous petitions have been forwarded to council opposing drive-thru restaurants, including a 794-signature petition last May.

But council was unmoved by her objections, with Coun. Dave Hensman saying that not only were these drive-thrus welcome, Mission should have more. Adlem, who ran a drive-thru Wendy’s restaurant for 15 years, said council cannot be taken seriously in its slogan that Mission is open for business if it denies drive-thrus, hinting the bylaw might one day be scrapped altogether.

There are several requirements prior to adoption of the application, including receipt of $422,250 Community Amenity Contribution (based on 150 residential units); engineering requirements; Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure requirements; federal authorization under the Fisheries Act and provincial authorization under the Water Act; a letter from the environment ministry confirming rezoning can proceed; and a tree inventory.

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

Just Posted

Cops converge in a Marshall Road parking lot on Thursday afternoon following a reported police incident. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)
Federal offender escapes, gets shot at and is taken back into custody in Abbotsford

Several branches of law enforcement find escapee a short distance from where he fled

Jay Matte (right), president of Pressland Printing in downtown Mission, passes a customer her purchase. Many local businesses say the new mandatory mask order is a positive step to help protect customers and staff alike. / Kevin Mills Photo
Mission businesses, workers say they’re happy with new mask mandate

Most say they’ve had little problem enforcing the of new rules

Jag Deol, owner of Sangam Restaurant and Catering, is collecting non-perishable food items for the St. Joseph's Food Bank at both his restaurant locations in Mission. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Indian restaurant asks for food-bank donations when Missionites pick up take-out orders

Sangam Restaurant and Catering hosting food drive until Dec. 20, will match all donations made

Kenny (left) and Bobby Braich, the Braich family estate’s representatives, will have to pay $676,000 to their former estate lawyer, James Carphin, for legal work dating from December 2004 to October 2010. / Patrick Penner Photo
Former lawyer for Braich Family Estate wins case over unpaid legal debts in B.C. Supreme Court

Braich family recently in dispute with District of Mission over failed development deal

Lefeuvre Road, near Myrtle Avenue, was blocked to traffic on Thursday (Dec. 3) after an abandoned pickup truck was found on fire. Police are investigating to determine if there are any links to a killing an hour earlier in Surrey. (Shane MacKichan photo)
Torched truck found in Abbotsford an hour after killing in Surrey

Police still investigating to determine if incidents are linked

Motorists wait to enter a Fraser Health COVID-19 testing facility, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, Nov. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Another 694 diagnosed with COVID-19 in B.C. Thursday

Three more health care outbreaks, 12 deaths

A demonstrator wears representations of sea lice outside the Fisheries and Oceans Canada offices in downtown Vancouver Sept. 24, demanding more action on the Cohen Commission recommendations to protect wild Fraser River sockeye. (Quinn Bender photo)
First Nations renew call to revoke salmon farm licences

Leadership council implores use of precautionary principle in Discovery Islands

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

(Pixabay)
Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

Surrey Pretrial centre in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial hit with human rights complaint over mattress

The inmate who lodged the complaint said he needed a second mattress to help him manage his arthritis

A coal-fired power plant seen through dense smog from the window of an electric bullet train south of Beijing, December 2016. China has continued to increase thermal coal production and power generation, adding to greenhouse gas emissions that are already the world’s largest. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
LNG featured at B.C. energy industry, climate change conference

Hydrogen, nuclear, carbon capture needed for Canada’s net-zero goal

An RCMP officer confers with military rescuers outside their Cormorant helicopter near Bridesville, B.C. Tuesday, Dec. 1. Photo courtesy of RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey
Good Samaritan helped Kootenay police nab, rescue suspect which drew armed forces response

Midway RCMP said a Good Samaritan helped track the suspect, then brought the arresting officer dry socks

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

Most Read