River’s Edge site rezoned for massive development

A lone speaker rose to comment at Tuesday night's public hearing on the River's Edge plan for up to 350 new homes

Artist's rendering of a new subdivision proposed by Canada Lands at Peach Road and the Vedder River.

Artist's rendering of a new subdivision proposed by Canada Lands at Peach Road and the Vedder River.

Traffic and parking were the main concerns of the lone speaker at Tuesday night’s public hearing about a riverside development on Peach Road.

Rezoning changes for the proposed 42-acre River’s Edge development were later approved by council, complete with green elements like trails and a “tree park.”

Peach Road resident Todd Longstaff rose to the microphone to complain there wasn’t even sufficient parking for existing developments in the area.

“The traffic has easily tripled since I moved here,” he told council.

Peach Road is also too narrow as it is, he noted, let alone able accommodate all the additional parking spots required when they construct more than 300 new dwellings.

“To keep adding more and more homes into this area, it seems we’re just packing people in,” without keeping pace by adding infrastructure, Longstaff said.

“We already have a lot of traffic congestion.”

Director of engineering David Blain responded by telling council that curb, gutter and sidewalk improvements were all coming “some time in the future,” along with road widening on Peach Road.

Longstaff wasn’t convinced.

“You can add more sidewalks to Peach Road, but what are they going to do when they get to the end?”

When a council asked staff about getting from Peach Road to the nearest convenience store, the dismayed resident said quietly: “You can’t get there from here.”

However certain road improvements were included from the outset as part of the subdivision application, along with a traffic study that will be updated by the applicant, and a master plan for Keith Wilson Road that’s in the works, Blain said.

The plan calls for 118 on-street parking spaces within the pubic right-of-way.

Council commented on the extent of the planning, the collaboration, the green space amenities and the increased density the project will bring.

Coun. Ken Huttema called the project an “excellent addition” to the area, despite the added congestion it was expected to bring.

“I know it’s not much comfort but there are better days on the horizon,” he said.

He thanked CLC for its comprehensive approach to planning, and for dedicating 27 per cent to park and natural areas so neighbours can continue to enjoy the open space.

“Just the idea of a green street is very innovative,” noted Coun. Ken Popove.

Having just attended an Agriculture Commission meeting, Coun. Jason Lum said he appreciated how the new subdivision will provide some needed density for the city.

“That takes the pressure off the Agricultural Land Reserve,” he said, which is important to City of Chilliwack in its quest to protect farmland.

He flagged the traffic issues for the Transportation Advisory Committee to look at in future.

Coun. Attrill also offered support.

“That area has really come a long way,” adding she’s looking forward to improvements to Keith Wilson Road down the line.

Mayor Sharon Gaetz praised the determination Canada Lands showed in working closely with city officials on the plan, and its determination to work out any issues with neighbours.

“Just the fact that there was just one person in opposition says something for a plan that proposes to add 350 dwelling units onsite,” she said.

Council approved second and third reading of the bylaws to change the OCP designation from federal, and Vedder River Management Area, to a Comprehensive Development (CD) Area, and to rezone from RSV3 to a CD-24 zone.

The project applicant, on behalf of Canada Lands Company, requested the OCP and zoning changes on the riverside parcel to what used to be former CFB Chilliwack property in order to construct a master planned residential development. The team took a similar approach to how Garrison Crossing was created, with an extensive Neighbourhood Plan. The plan takes environmental, economic, social aspects as well as the physical development of the project into consideration.

The project calls for a range of housing types, including 145 single family lots with detached and attached units, six multi-family lots with duplexes, townhouses and apartments, up to a maximum density total of 350 dwelling units, according to the staff report. A space about a hectare in size will incorporate “Green Streets” with walking, and bicycle trails, public green space and maintenance vehicle access.

The neighbourhood plan makes it clear that CLC is striving to make River’s Edge its “greenest development to date.”

jfeinberg@theprogress.com

Twitter.com/chwkjourno

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