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Former Delta councillor argues Tsawwassen 'losing its essential character'

Wendy Jeske gives familiar argument against the apartment building development application
tsawwassen apartment building proposal
The proposed rental apartment building would be located on a lot where a gas station closed almost a decade ago.

A former Delta city councillor is conveying her opposition to a proposed rental apartment building in Tsawwassen.

In a letter to council, Wendy Jeske outlined a number of concerns regarding the 48-unit market rental complex at 1467-56 St., located at the southwest corner of 14B Avenue.

The complex would occupy a vacant lot where a gas station was once located.

Noting the project is located along the entrance to the Highlands neighbourhood, Jeske said the project proposes more than doubling the current allowable area density from 49 units per acre to 113 units per acre.

“This is simply too much. While it is the practice of every developer to propose the maximum and work from there, I point out that the building is surrounded by the south, west, and north sides by condos which have significantly lower densities,” she wrote in her letter. “There is a large development of market apartments (Century Village) at 56th Street and 17th, which functions at a much lower density.

“Why the desire to densify a small peninsula? This is Tsawwassen, not Richmond or Surrey, and I find that the community is losing its essential character, as has already occurred in Ladner.”

Jeske also conveyed concerns about other issues including the building’s proposed height, traffic and parking, among other things, saying the developer has a significant amount of work to do before the application goes to council for first and second reading.

Back in 2010, Jeske, who had already left Delta council several years earlier, was a highly vocal critic of allowing higher density developments at the Highlands neighbourhood.

During a contentious public hearing on a proposed new Tsawwassen Area Plan, which spanned several days, most speakers were also in opposition to the proposed plan.

City staff proposed designating several single-family areas just north of the town centre to allow for townhouse development.

The homes along the power line corridor would have also had a new designation for higher density, although developers would still have to go through the regular rezoning process.

Jeske, at the public hearing, said the neighbourhood was “an alert, active community that cares for itself and each other.”

Among her other comments was that seniors had chosen to stay in their homes in Highlands rather than live in condos, and that she was opposed to higher density growth, which could lead to Delta being the “doormat of the region.”

The city later backed down and came back with a revised area plan.

Fast forward to 2021 and the city has been gathering public feedback on the proposed apartment building on 56 Street, which would comprise five storeys including two levels of parking.

The application has yet to go to council for consideration of preliminary approval and a public hearing.

The proposal does not comply with the current land use designation when it comes to the density or height, so the application requires an amendment to the Official Community Plan.

A staff report to the city’s Advisory Design Panel notes there is support expressed for more housing choices, rental housing, adaptable units and location near transit.

However, there is also opposition and concerns expressed about non-compliance with the OCP, density, reduced parking and increased traffic.