Final approval of the Sardis Neighbourhood Plan by council was at the Jan. 5, 2021 council meeting. (City of Chilliwack)

Final approval of the Sardis Neighbourhood Plan by council was at the Jan. 5, 2021 council meeting. (City of Chilliwack)

Sardis plan approved at Chilliwack city hall amid calls for new trails, parks, greener construction

‘We’ve heard a lot about parks and greenspaces,’ said Coun. Bud Mercer on plan. ‘We’ll take it to heart’

Council will take “to heart” all the passionate voices who offered criticism and support for the newly approved Sardis Neighbourhood plan.

“We’ve heard a lot about parks and greenspaces,” said Coun. Bud Mercer, chair of the parks and recreation advisory committee, after the public hearing, adding: “We’ll take it to heart.”

Council gave the Sardis Neighbourhood plan third reading Tuesday night (Jan. 5) which will see it added as a text amendment to the Official Community Plan.

Approval came after a year of consultation and engagement that included feedback from more than 1,000 citizens on different platforms.

Four people spoke at the last engagement opportunity, the Jan. 5 public hearing, which saw Zoom call presentations from Chilliwack-Vedder Cleanup Society, Chilliwack Park Society, and Chilliwack Citizens For Change.

Given that one of the eight “overarching principles” of the Sardis plan is to “enhance and expand natural areas, parks, trails and natural drainage systems,” there were requests for more certainty around those proposed new parks, trails and greenspaces.

One speaker offered support for adopting greener construction and geothermal methods, while another concern was making Sardis into a more walkable community with better connector pathways.

Another speaker stated that while the Sardis plan had many “laudable” aims, she said they could in fact “do even better.”

To see the entire hearing, watch the 7 p.m. session of the Jan. 5 meeting.

“There is a lot of passion, and I want the viewers, and those taking the time to offer feedback to know that the passion, and will, and wish, also rest with mayor and council,” Coun. Mercer said. “Many of us spend time on the trails and parks hiking or biking as well.”

The way that the grants and funding came together to help Chilliwack build its new pump track “is a great example,” of how things can be done, Mercer noted. Now construction is complete, and it is set to be the largest paved pump track facility in North America with the potential to attract national events to Chilliwack.

Coun. Jason Lum said he was “sensing a theme” from what he was hearing from speakers around trails and parks development, and asked if the approach to developers could be that they are “required” rather than “encouraged” to help with greening.

That emphasis on more green spaces also came up very strongly in the feedback from the public, but some of the criticism was around the lack of any specific locations mentioned for new parks.

Coun. Lum said that announcing potential park locations being eyed for purchase can have the effect of jacking up prices through speculation, which is why city officials tend to hold those cards “close to the chest.”

There were no public meetings given the pandemic but they collected feedback on the plan with the help of a dedicated website.

“Neighbourhood plans” are planning documents that guide how the neighbourhood will grow in the years to come in terms of in-fill development. In the case of the Sardis area in the next 20 years, it’s estimated to see an influx more more than 6,800 people who will live in 4,000 new dwellings.

RELATED: Draft plan was ready for citizen comments this fall

RELATED: Calls for more green space certainty in the plan

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