Former UFV land in Chilliwack rezoned for residential

Plans calls an 81-unit apartment, 124 regular townhouse units, 28 back-to-back townhouses, and about 42 small lot single family homes.

Chilliwack city council as approved a rezoning application that will transform the former UFV campus on Yale Road into a new residential sub division called Midtown. Demolition of the former campus buildings is already under way.

How much park land or green space will be featured in the Midtown redevelopment on the former UFV campus on Yale Road was a big question mark Tuesday night at the rezoning hearing.

Council approved the proposal to rezone portions of property located at 45635 Yale Road from a PI (Civic Assembly) Zone to an R3 (Small Lot One Family Residential) Zone; an R4-A (Townhouse Multi-Family Residential) Zone; a CD-20 (Comprehensive Development-20) Zone; and, a C2 (Local Commercial) Zone.

Resident Robyn Barker said she didn’t agree with the inclusion of apartments or townhouses in the mixed-use plan, “especially if they’re low-income.” Even the commercial elements were unnecessary.

“I’d love to see a big park,” she said.

Melissa Geddert, a director with Chilliwack Park Society, said she was in support of the redevelopment on Yale and Airport, praising the fact that “it is not taking agriculture land or expanding into the hillsides.”

But she did have concern around the lack of park space, and with 200 homes planned for the site, she wanted to “encourage the decision-makers to re-evaluate the matrix” when talking about where park space could go.

“I just wanted to encourage the idea of a walking pathway, similar to what is along the Hope Slough.”

Diane Lawrence said her home faces the development site, and asked about the possibility of a fence that had been promised by the developer.

Gerald Hiebert said he “echoed” the voices before him asking for connectivity of various pathways within the subdivsion to make sure it’s easy to move around.

“Parking is certainly an issue as well,” he said.

The plan calls for a pedestrian walkway along Chilliwack River to connect existing and future residents to Airport Road and park/amenity spaces. An apartment building will go in south of Airport Road featuring up to 80 smaller apartment units of less than 51m2 (551 sq.ft) to offer an affordable housing option.

Director of planning David Blain noted that the city can take payment in lieu of park space from developers when it comes to negotiating amenities, and said the area was already well served with park space. There are plans for an amenity, and there are nearby parks.

Eric Van Maren of Van Maren Group of Companies, the applicant, said they’ve been working closely with city staff for four months on the Midtown development plan, and making revisions.

“We are pleased to have the opportunity to provide a diverse range of housing, more specifically on the north side of the highway, where there has not been any considerable development in a long time,” he said.

They complied with what was asked of them at city hall, coming forward with a vibrant plan for a mix of housing types, as well as a 10-foot pathway or “greenway” with 100-foot setbacks.

“So it’s going to feel like a wide open area.”

Only the right-of-way question was one where they had some areas of disagreement, Van Maren said. He clarified that some of the residential units will be smaller units, but not necessarily “low income.”

“It’s more affordable housing but that is different than low income,” he said.

Now that the rezoning has been approved, one of the first goals will be to build roads. That work could start this summer.

Airport Road is to be extended into the new subdivision, leading to a new road that cuts through and continues to Meadowbrook Drive. The conceptual plan for the Midtown development includes a large apartment building, 124 townhouse units, 28 back-to-back townhouses, and about 42 small lot single family homes. It backs onto the Chilliwack River and Meadowbrook Drive.

Construction of the townhouses is up first, and that could begin as early as this fall.

The applicant requested fourth reading of the rezoning bylaw approval that night, and council agreed.

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