Residents got a chance last Thursday to learn more about Ladner's biggest unfinished housing development at the first formal public meeting on the proposal.
The municipality hosted the information session at the Ladner Community Centre to explain the application by Captain's Cove Marina Ltd. and Polygon Homes to alter the final development plan for Marina Garden Estates.
About 200 people attended the meeting and got a chance to talk one-on-one with civic and Polygon staff following a brief presentation.
The development proposal has been making news for almost a year, but it was only recently that it was formally submitted to Delta.
Located off Ferry Road, the first phases of Marina Gardens were completed over two decades ago. Over the years several residential phases and a golf course were added.
The 87-hectare (217acre) site had originally been approved for 1,426 homes, as well as the golf course, a 220-room hotel, a marina, a neighbourhood pub and limited commercial uses.
To date, 619 houses have been constructed, fewer than what had originally been planned.
Captain's Cove Marina Ltd. and Polygon Homes are now proposing to alter the master plan for the final build-out, including dropping the hotel altogether.
The revised plan would only have only 65 single-family or duplex dwellings. The remaining 672 units would either be in one of four five-storey apartment buildings (360) or three-and-a-half-storey townhouses (312).
The new plan has lower density west of Admiral Boulevard while the higher density will be located east of Admiral Boulevard.
According to the application, the apartment uses fulfill the garden apartment need foreseen in Delta's Official Community Plan without impacting the approved density and the gross density of the overall site.
In an interview with the Optimist after the meeting, Polygon president Neil Chrystal noted the original plan, which was only conceptual, had float homes and many stacked multilevel townhomes. He said the float homes were eliminated and townhomes redesigned to a more traditional and preferred form.
The only significant change is the addition of the condos, a form of housing Chrystal said is in high demand but in extremely short supply.
Downsizers and first-time buyers are finding it difficult to find housing in Ladner, he said.
"Since we've built out Sunstone (at Delsom Estates in North Delta), we've captured a lot of those long-time Delta residents, both young and old, who want to stay in the community. It's been a really big success story for us over there," Chrystal said.
"We believe that in Ladner there's a similar group of people that are older, that would like to sell their homes, but they really don't have a lot of options they're comfortable with... There's Chesapeake Landing and Woodward Landing, both beautiful communities and we built them both. Those homes are selling for something like the $700,000 range or more, so having something that is a little bit more modestly priced is going to serve a different empty nester, maybe in a different demographic, but also those townhomes will cater to young families."
Although the total number of housing units once the build-out is completed would be 70 below what was originally approved, many Marina Gardens homeowners have voiced their opposition.
The Marina Gardens Homeowners Association, representing residents in Southpointe, Marina Garden Estates, Chesapeake Landing and Woodward Landing, says the proposed higher density developments do not fit in with the existing look and character of the single-family neighbourhoods. The higher density also raised a number of other concerns, such as parking and traffic, that residents wanted to talk about on Thursday.
Many of those concerns were conveyed to Delta CAO George Harvie, while engineering director Steven Lan took notes.
Saying the density is even higher than what's proposed for the Southlands in Tsawwassen, Marina Gardens resident Malcolm Ashford said what should be made clear is they're not opposed to adding a variety of housing types in the remainder of Marina Gardens.
Ashford said a fair compromise would be to reduce the number of units in order to thin out that density.
"It's a pretty beautiful single-family area that's grown up over the years that people have spent a lot of money being in, for the quality and character, and depending on what the final mix is going to look like, it could have a drastic affect on that quality," Ashford said.
The community planning department notes the proposal is in the early stages, so some aspects may change during the review process. A plan to introduce rental units in the condo portion of the development has already been eliminated.