Fraser Valley mayors gather to talk development

Housing construction, density, and transit dominated the discussion.

Developers from across the Lower Mainland wanted to hear from Fraser Valley mayors on three major topics – density, permits, and transportation.

The Urban Development Institute Fraser Valley hosted mayors and councillors from the Langleys, Abbotsford, Surrey, Maple Ridge, Chilliwack, and Mission for a discussion at the Langley Events Centre on Thursday.

The mayors were asked about how easy it was to develop in their jurisdictions, before an audience composed primarily of developers and builders.

“It’s a challenge for the industry, and it’s a challenge for our own staff,” said Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese, about keeping up with the pace of development permits.

He noted some changes the Township has taken over recent years to streamline the process, including allowing small, simple permits to skip approval by the council in favour of being handled by staff alone.

The City’s new Mayor Val van den Broek touted the local record of quick turnover, including about four to six weeks for most permits. She noted that one major project at the luxury auto mall in the City took just 10 days to process.

Every city in the valley is dealing with massive growth, with Mayor Pam Alexis of Mission noting her city was expected to double in size in the coming years.

“We have run through two record years,” Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said of the massive number of new housing developments coming through during the last few years of superheated real estate demand.

Abbotsford has about 1,600 housing units under construction, and 3,600 in the stream to being approved and built.

Every single mayor and councillor on the stage said they were expecting more density in the coming years, whether that’s towers under construction or planned in Surrey and Langley, to an increase in townhouses, duplexes, or infill development on smaller lots in communities further to the east.

Almost every member of the panel spoke of the need to build up rather than out in the future, though many of the communities, including Maple Ridge, Chilliwack, and Langley still have land zoned for single family development.

On transportation, each community is wrestling with more traffic and expects even more issues in the future as density increases.

“Almost 70 per cent of Mission leaves every day,” noted Alexis.

That isn’t as much of a problem in Abbotsford, where Braun said 65 per cent of locals with jobs work in Abbotsford. But he still wants to see Highway One widened, along with 16th Avenue through Abbotsford and Langley.

“We have east-west problems,” he said.

Froese agreed on widening Highway One, but said that isn’t the long-term solution.

“We can’t just continually make the highways wider,” he said.

He added that there are changes coming that are hard to predict, including the possibility of driverless cars.

“What’s that going to look like for our communities?” said Froese.

Ken Popove of Chilliwack said he doesn’t expect to see light rapid transit coming down the side of the highway to Chilliwack “in our lifetime.”

Cycling infrastructure is a big issue in his community.

Langley City is planning now for the eventual arrival of SkyTrain, while building bike lanes as well, said van den Broek. She also called for alternatives to taxis.

“We want to see more ride-sharing,” she said. “We need Uber, we need more of those kinds of things.”

Maple Ridge’s traffic has changed a lot since the removal of tolls on the Golden Ears and Port Mann Bridged, said Coun. Ahmed Yousef.

Some locals have been taking the toll-free Golden Ears south and connecting to SkyTrain to get to Vancouver, rather than trying to drive west over the Pitt River Bridge.

Just Posted

Saddle bronc rider earns highest score in Cloverdale Rodeo’s history

In 73 years, no one had achieved a 94 in saddle bronc —until last night

Structure fire destroys Surrey tire shop, closes section of Fraser Highway

RCMP have closed Fraser Highway down to traffic from 152 Street to 88 Avenue

Surrey RCMP search for missing 17-year-old girl

Mikayla Logan was last seen in Guildford on Tuesday, May 14

COLUMN: ‘Smart growth’ lacking in Surrey

Surrey council’s approval of infrastructure projects in the Tynehead area shows the… Continue reading

GALLERY: Cloverdale Rodeo Parade brings thousands through the town centre

From ponies to hot rods, the 73rd annual parade had it all

UPDATE: B.C. pilot killed in Honduras plane crash

The crash happened in the Roatan Islands area, according to officials

Raptors beat Bucks 118-112 in 2OT thriller

Leonard has 36 points as Toronto cuts Milwaukee’s series lead to 2-1

‘Teams that win are tight’: B.C. Lions search for chemistry at training camp

The Lions added more than 50 new faces over the off-season, from coaching staff to key players

Rescue crews suspend search for Okanagan kayaker missing for three days

71-year-old Zygmunt Janiewicz was reported missing Friday

B.C. VIEWS: Reality of our plastic recycling routine exposed

Turns out dear old China wasn’t doing such a great job

Carbon dioxide at highest levels for over 2.5 million years, expert warns of 100 years of disruption

CO2 levels rising rapidly, now higher than at any point in humanity’s history

Multi-vehicle collision on highway in Chilliwack

Accident involves several vehicles, in the westbound lanes says Drive BC

Man dies after being hit by car in East Vancouver

The driver involved is cooperating with police

B.C. ferry stops to let black bear swim past near Nanaimo

Queen of Oak Bay brakes for wildlife in Nanaimo’s Departure Bay

Most Read

l -->