Mayor George Harvie didn’t hold back when describing the appearance of Ladner Village and the need to revitalize as council on Monday voted in favour of moving the Dunbar Lumber site redevelopment a step closer to reality.
Council voted 6-1 to grant third reading for the project at the corner of Bridge and Elliott streets, with Alicia Guichon the lone councillor to vote in opposition.
Harvie said the village, with its shabby buildings and lack of people, is in a state of decline.
He said he has been concerned about the state of the area for more than two decades in the roles of city manager and mayor.
“I walked though it [Ladner Village] the other day with my wife, and it was after we had dinner, there was nobody else walking. There’s nobody there at night. We try to listen to our chamber of commerce and our local Ladner Business Association. This village is in a decline and we need to revitalize it,” said Harvie. “In all my years that I’ve been here, there seems to be never a project that someone in the community is willing to move forward on. This project I am in support.”
Harvie added the project is also, in fact, just four storeys without the parking, which can’t be put underground due to flood-proofing considerations.
The Dunbar Lumber site is proposed to be transformed into a six-storey, mixed-use project. The new development proposal would have commercial space with parking on the ground floor, parking on the second floor and residential on the remaining levels.
When the application was submitted last year, it required an Official Community Plan (OCP) amendment, however, that is no longer the case as council since then approved major changes to the Ladner Village Area Plan. It means the proposed development would adhere to the revised OCP, so a public hearing is not required.
Coun. Rod Binder said the public engagement and gathering of feedback was extensive, resulting in refinements to the application that make it a good one to supply much-needed housing and revitalize the village.
Saying the village desperately needs more people, but previous attempts have failed due to city polices that made redevelopment non-viable, Coun. Dylan Kruger noted a previous structure that had stood for years on the site, the Surrey Co-op tower, was much taller than what is now proposed.
He added he had rarely seen such thorough community engagement and it should be the new standard for others hoping to develop in Delta.
Coun. Jessie Dosanjh agreed, saying he prefers the latest proposed design over the initial proposal.
Saying she appreciated the developer was going to contribute rent assistance to the Affordable Housing Societies for several persons with intellectual disabilities who will live new in the separate housing project on Evergreen Lane, Guichon nonetheless continued to voice concerns about the height, an issue raised by the residents’ group Friends of Ladner Village.
Guichon said she’s worried about a push for over-densifying the village when there are housing opportunities outside the area.