After nine hours of public hearings over two consecutive days, Delta council has put off deciding the fate of a contentious 35-storey highrise proposed for the corner of 75A Avenue and Scott Road.
At around 11 p.m. on Wednesday night (Nov. 27), council voted to postpone further discussion of the project, including whether or not to give the proposal third reading, until its next regular meeting, to be held on Monday, Dec. 2 at North Delta’s Kennedy Seniors’ Recreation Centre.
The proceedings were a continuation of the previous evening’s public hearing, and over 50 people came out to the North Delta Recreation Centre on Wednesday night to share their concerns with council. Speakers in favour of and opposed to the project touched on most of the same themes and issues as the day before, namely affordability, housing needs, traffic concerns, liveability and the proposed amendment to the official community plan (OCP).
The OCP, which was last updated in 2016, calls for high-density mixed use “nodes” along Scott Road, namely at 72nd, 80th, 88th and 96th, as well as medium-density mixed use “nodes” at 64th and 84th avenues.
However, the property at 75A Avenue is currently zoned as “medium density residential,” a designation intended for low-rise multi-family structures no more than six storeys high. For the highrise to go forward, city council would have to approve an amendment to the OCP and a rezoning of the property.
Stemming from the tension and anger of the previous night’s comments, several speakers threw accusations of ageism, entitlement and thinly-veiled racism at their opponents, while others attempted to bridge the divide by opening their remarks with an apology on behalf of others in their camp for some of things said on Tuesday.
Still, many younger supporters categorized those who are opposed to the project as belonging to older generations and called on council not to make a decision that would force Millennials and seniors who can’t afford current housing prices out of North Delta entirely.
The project as proposed would add 335 residential units to the area, with 20 per cent earmarked as “affordable dwelling units” under BC Housing’s Affordable Home Ownership Program (AHOP).
AHOP is an initiative that provides interim construction financing at reduced rates and leverages contributions from project partners (such as the City of Delta) to ensure units are made available for eligible home buyers at five to 20 per cent below market value.
As well as added density, the project would include space in ground level of the building for a childcare or civic use facility (as deemed appropriate by the city).
However, many of those who spoke against the highrise Wednesday night questioned how affordable the AHOP units would actually be given their price would be still be tied to the market value of the units and no one knows what the market will look like by the time the project is built.
Traffic congestion was another concern for many of those speakers as the area already suffers from drivers trying to “rat-run” through their neighbourhood as commuters approach the Alex Fraser bridge, leading several to posit the influx of residents to the area would exacerbate congestion on Scott Road, 75A Avenue and 119A Street.
Earlier this month, council voted 4-3 to give the project second reading and send it for public hearing, with councillors Dan Copeland, Lois Jackson and Jeannie Kanakos in favour of denying the application outright.