People parked in the fire lane, left garbage and tried to steal stuff from nearby houses.
Chilliwack resident Craig McKie called it a “horror story” to imagine the lane backing onto Bonny Park re-opening, to facilitate a future development on Riverside Drive.
Metal posts to block traffic, called bollards, were installed by a parks crew with City of Chilliwack about 15 years ago, at McKie’s urging. That cut off vehicle access to the Bonny Park, which is a green space bordered by Bonny, Oak, Williams, and Riverside Drive.
It was difficult enough for the neighbourhood to deal with when the lane was open to vehicles, with the dumped garbage, property crime, non-stop traffic, noise, and other “nefarious” activities, the area resident said.
“Having it closed meant all that calmed it down somewhat,” McKie said. It reduced, but did not eliminate the problems, he wrote in his letter to council in September.
“There were good reasons to block lane access to the park,” McKie wrote. “They remain pertinent.
“The Bonny pocket park was an anti-social public commons when the lanes were open.”
Now two Riverside properties, and the reopening of the lane, are being considered for a 10-lot infill development, and the public hearing for the rezoning was set for Tuesday night to hear what the public has to say.
“They’re talking about two lanes of traffic open 24 hours a day,” he said.
“It runs right by the back doors of some people, and there’s no restriction on use. It’s just a horror show and I don’t want any part of it.”
McKie planned to attend the public hearing to show opposition to the rezoning for several reasons, including him finding repulsive the “alienation of public parklands for private development”. Several other letters of concern and opposition from neighbours were also part of this week’s council agenda package.
The city doesn’t plow paved lanes and after a heavy snowfall the crews end up blocking the lane exit.
“So in addition to all that, any snowfall and the road’s closed.”
More than 100 homes on Riverside enter their properties from Riverside Drive. But the proposed townhouse development would see owners enter and exit through the public park.
A number of residents who live around the “courtyard” park are trying to get the word out to their affected neighbours, who may be unaware of the proposed development and rezoning hearing on Tuesday, that could see part of the park lane way paved, and the park reopened to traffic at the Williams Street entrance.
Mayor and some council members visited the site in recent weeks, and McKie said he took a councillor on a tour of the area to get a look at what they were talking about.
The crux of it is that trying to “stuff” 10 lots on the parcel means having “no turnaround capacity,” which necessitates the reopening of the lane for a fire lane, he said.
“The city should either reject it or it should be fewer lots,” McKie said.
There are alternatives like an Oak Street access for the lane but that would mean extra costs for the developer.
The rezoning hearing is set for Nov. 3 to facilitate a 10-lot residential subdivision on 46118 and 46136 Riverside Drive by Richland Ventures Ltd. The plan calls for existing structures on the properties to be removed at the time of subdivision.
Also no parking and fire lane signage will be required by the city, “as a means of limiting future vehicle access” in the park area, said the city staff report.
The developer has said the lane will be used as “a secondary access” for future residents, as well as for emergency response purposes.