Residents with homes along Luckakuck Creek packed Chilliwack chambers Tuesday night, urging council to turn down a rezoning for a proposed development on Dogwood Drive.
They shared concerns about traffic tie-ups, tree removal, ponds being filled and headwaters being buried. They signed a petition and sent council letters of opposition — to no avail.
After considering the matter for the third time, council approved rezoning the properties to an R3 designation from R1A, with one councillor, Ken Popove, opposed.
At issue for many of the residents who spoke at the hearing was the community impact of the new housing development, on residents as well as creek habitat and wildlife.
“I would like to object in the strongest possible terms to the rezoning,” said resident Patrick O’Shea. The extra traffic on Dogwood Drive will “destroy the quiet enjoyment of our home.”
Fighting the development has taken its toll.
“The process of defending our home has been very trying and has affected our health,” O’Shea said.
In response to public concerns at previous hearings from area residents, the applicants re-submitted a rezoning application, which was scaled down in this new version for 31 single family homes, rather than town homes in a multi-family development.
Access and traffic concerns were also high on many speakers’ lists of priorities. The plan shows 18 of the 31 units accessing the development from Vedder Road, with the remaining 13 gaining access via the controversial easement over 6545 Dogwood Drive, but that will be decided later.
Resident Eli Raymond zeroed in on traffic issues.
“I live on the corner. Those cars are going to be lined up in front of my door.”
Developer Larry Les addressed several of the concerns raised at previous
hearings, including the creek, which he said did not meet the definition of a stream.
Later biologist Mike Pearson said there were ample fish and species at risk values along the creek.
Edenbank resident Ralph Pedersen said: “Our concern is water. The flow of water into Luckakuck has greatly diminished.”
For some, it was a fear the development would ruin the creek.
“We love the creek and we love where we live,” said resident Rhonda Sexsmith, echoed by several other speakers who added details about the natural splendour of the area.
Speaker after speaker touched on the unique characteristics of the protected, natural setting.
“I feel very solitary,” said Les on the second go-around of speakers, and later added “We don’t want to come in and be the bad guy.”
He mentioned they had no problem with making Vedder the primary access but had to give some access by Dogwood for safety reasons.
“It’s the waterways that make this place unique,” said Sheila Muxlow of the Water Wealth Project, the last speaker at the end of a long night.
“The fact that we have this is very much a gift and something we need to steward.”
She said hearing statements from the developer Les she can sense feeling of injustice in his voice.
“He wants to go forward. It feels like an injustice. But its also an injustice to the residents and the creatures,” she said.
Several councillors said they thought the reworked plan was the “highest and best use” of the land, which was the point of the rezoning.
Mayor Sharon Gaetz excused herself at the outset of the public hearing due to her home’s proximity to the properties in question.