After a lull for several months, the Southlands is once again making news.
Century Group president Sean Hodgins made a presentation to Delta council Monday on his plans to develop the controversial Tsawwassen property.
The proposed development would result in the transfer of 80 per cent of the 217-hectare (536-acre) parcel to Delta. Up to two-thirds of that land would be used for farming, while areas would also be set aside for public open space and greenways, natural habitat, a market square and farming school.
On the remaining 20 per cent, Century Group is proposing to build a range of housing types over 15 to 20 years.
Hodgins and architect Patrick Cotter explained several of the key design elements behind their vision at the council meeting, including a connectivity of open space, network of public pathways and parking pockets instead of standard driveways.
Earlier this month, a rezoning application was submitted for the first phase of the development. It involves 14 hectares (35 acres) and includes 450 residential units in various forms and densities, including cottage-style and single-family homes, duplexes, manor homes, live-work studios, townhomes/rowhomes and condos. At 345, condos make up the majority of that housing.
Pointing out his development would offer the community a variety of housing not currently available, Hodgins said the next phase would see a predominance of cottage-style homes. He plans to set up an example of one at his nearby mall.
Approximately 7,432 square metres (80,000 square feet) of ground oriented commercial space is also proposed, which would include retail and community uses associated with the market square.
"Agricultural urbanism is fundamental to the heart of the project with small-scale farming lands reaching into Phase 1 from the west to meet with the community farming which in turn meets with the Earthwise Gardens," Hodgins noted in his rezoning application.
His application states the proposal, drawing on traditional neighbourhood and new urbanist principles, is "a unique concept of urban settlement integrated with various scales of agricultural activity and other community uses."
The application also points out the development is much smaller than the 1,900-unit housing proposal originally envisioned several years ago. The new number, he said, is the minimum the company needs to make the transfer of the remaining land viable and to pay for the upgrades needed to cultivate the best farmland on the property.
The application also notes that if the farmland is managed to its full potential, the "Southlands can represent a form of farming from an earlier era in Delta, when farming was more connected to the community and a part of the local culture."
While many in the community continue to express opposition to development on the property bordered by 56th Street and Boundary Bay Road, which is zoned agricultural but not in the ALR, Hodgins has many supporters.
At council Monday, he noted Tsawwassen currently has 8,500 homes, so the 11 per cent increase his development would bring over two decades would result in a minimal traffic increase. A traffic study will be submitted shortly.
Ministry of Agriculture and Metro Vancouver approvals are also required before a development can proceed.
The Century Group will make a presentation with additional details to several civic advisory committees on May 3 at the Ladner Community Centre (4734-51st St.) starting at 7 p.m. The public can attend to observe the discussion.
Several public information meetings are to take place afterward. If the application receives preliminary approval, the earliest a public hearing would be held is this fall.
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