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Details of proposed Tsawwassen Town Centre redevelopment revealed

More details on the various types of housing units and other components of the project have to be finalized before a formal application is submitted to the city

Century Group held another public information meeting on Tuesday to gather feedback on a detailed proposed redevelopment concept for the future of the Tsawwassen Town Centre Mall.

The well-attended Nov. 21 session at the mall followed an information meeting held in September to hear what people had to say about a more general concept of an urban neighbourhood with hundreds of homes over retail and anchored by a new public library.

Century Group, eyeing an early 2024 development application to the City of Delta, used the earlier feedback to help come up with the detailed renderings that was shared for further comments and ideas. A virtual public session was also held Nov. 22.

To include, among other amenities, 50,000-square-feet of streetscape retail, a 30,000-square-foot grocery store, a new 12,000-square-foot library and accessible public open space, the proposal would see several six-storey buildings as well as four taller buildings that would be 23, 21, 19 and 17 storeys in height.

The development would have 1,250 residential units. The housing would include market and non-market housing, as well as rentals and inclusive housing for those with disabilities, but details still need to be finalized before the formal development application is submitted to the city.

To be built in phases over several years, among the concept’s other features are two levels of underground parking, a market square, new boulevard and retail high street, with the new library at the heart of the development having the “boldest architectural expression.”

Noting services, retail and gathering spaces for events will be important transforming what is now an underutilized space into a vibrant town core, Century Group president Sean Hodgins told the Optimist the feedback has been mostly positive.

People are generally more receptive to higher density housing forms, which are in short supply, but there is also some resistance to any significant change, said Hodgins.

“It’s generally quite positive, but there’s definitely negative reaction, and when I ask if they don’t want 20 storeys what do they want, the answer is four storeys. So, there’s never really a right answer in terms of being able to do the kind of housing that we need to do,” said Hodgins.

"I think what the challenge has been to get people to think about the plan is how they would actually experience it. They’re not looking up at buildings all day long, it’s really about creating a livable, quality pedestrian environment. Even with the library and the new retail, some people still absolutely don’t want height and that’s their sole focus, and some people don’t want to engage in a thoughtful dialogue, but others are really invested in the effort we’re putting into this and all the nuances.”

Hodgins said they have been in talks with the parent company of Thrifty Foods to have a slightly bigger store relocated at the site and many of the people who commented on the development expressed a desire to keep the grocery store at the town centre.