A scene from the annual Yarrow Days Parade in 2015. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

A scene from the annual Yarrow Days Parade in 2015. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)

Keeping rural character of Yarrow key to future neighbourhood plan: respondents

Planning began in Chilliwack after panhandle proposal raised questions about Yarrow impacts

Rural. Peaceful. Quaint.

That’s how the community of Yarrow was described by some respondents in the last City of Chilliwack engagement survey about future development.

Council received an update Tuesday at city hall on the Yarrow Neighbourhood Plan, which is underway with the aim of informing future land-use decisions with resident concerns and aspirations.

The boundaries of the Yarrow neighbourhood have been expanded slightly to include part of the agricultural land reserve, as well as Majuba Hill.

”Worth noting are the values that survey respondents used to describe Yarrow and what they most value about Yarrow: rural, small-town, friendly atmosphere, close-knit community, good place to raise a family or retire, large lots, peaceful, access to nature, and quaint,” according to the staff report in the March 15 agenda package.

“The top priorities for Yarrow according to the survey are retention of rural character, environmental protection and floodplain management, transportation (vehicular traffic, road network, safety) and active transportation.”

After the presentation in council chambers, Coun. Jason Lum offered feedback from community members to say that given the marked challenges faced by retail operators in Yarrow, there’s a desire for more density in the town centre, or a combination of uses.

“Because just commercial by itself is not going to cut it,” he said, adding that he hoped the plan could address some of the servicing challenges.

Coun. Jeff Shields commented that he thought this neighbourhood plan might be “toughest” to complete.

The impetus for the planning came to light one year ago, when a two-lot panhandle development proposal raised questions about impacts on Yarrow’s rural character and density.

Being on the western edge of Chilliwack as a rural community, Yarrow is characterized by servicing limitations and floodplain impacts, which in turn limit the density and the form that development can take, according to planning officials.

Chilliwack’s Official Community Plan (OCP) 2040 positions Yarrow as a rural community “expected to see limited growth,” based on those constraints.

However, since amendments to the sewer bylaws in 2015, reducing the minimum lot size for residential development on community water from one hectare, to 0.2 hectare, Yarrow has seen a number of residential subdivisions.

Staff have created a map that shows 59 Yarrow properties with the potential for subdivision.

“Further community engagement is proposed to take place next month, with plans to bring forward a completed plan as an OCP Amendment in May/June 2022,” according to the staff report.

More details on the Yarrow Neighbourhood Plan are at EngageChilliwack.com/YarrowPlan

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