Even an affordable housing pitch for some of the units didn’t have the majority of a Delta civic committee convinced they should support a controversial high-rise proposal.
The Community Livability Advisory Committee last Thursday heard a presentation from a representative from B.C. Housing about a proposal to include 70 so-called affordable housing units under the Affordable Home Ownership Program, in partnership with B.C. Housing, for the proposed high-rise at Scott Road and 75A Avenue.
Available for eligible home buyers, the program is aimed at assisting those who may be currently renting and are struggling to save up for a down payment.
It’s aimed at middle-income households with average incomes between $70,000-to-$150,000, depending on the community. The city would provide incentives such as waiving of fees, allowing increased density and parking allowances.
Arzone Real Estate Investments Ltd. and Hari Homes Inc. originally proposed a 35-storey high-rise with 280 units, as well as 14 townhouse on site.
A revised proposal that now includes the home ownership program increases the number of high-rise units to 329 in a 35-storey structure, while reducing the number of townhomes to six. In total, there’s an increase of 41 units. The development would have no rentals.
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The majority of committee members during their discussion acknowledged they supported new affordable housing initiatives but are not sold on the location of the proposed high-rise.
Staff acknowledged that the revised North Delta Area Plan has a number of nodes in which high-rises would be encouraged, but the high-rise in question, which would also have commercial and daycare space, is outside those designated nodes.
Several committee members also wondered if the affordable home ownership program would be available for smaller developments, or if they’d only be proposed with high-rises.
Saying the term “affordable" has many definitions, and that such a high-rise plan wouldn’t happen in Ladner or Tsawwassen, Kay Dennison noted she had supported the Delta Rise high-rise development when she was on the Delta Seniors’ Planning Team, but she now has a different opinion.
“This is not healthy for the community. This area is a nightmare now,” she warned, speaking of the traffic concerns. “That word ‘affordable’ is being bandied about to make this thing look good, and this is not good.”
Other members spoke about their reluctance to support high-rise towers, suggesting there are better ways for increased density and affordability.
Deb Jones said Nordel is a better suited area for such developments, adding “Let’s not have these things sprouting here and there willy-nilly.” She also said the city shouldn’t be jumping at the first deal that comes along.
Sandor Gyarmati Photo
Jeremy Stam, however, was more supportive, saying it’s something he’d be interested in participating, since he’s within that “missing middle” throwing his money away on rent. He encouraged the city and B.C. Housing to work on affordability for all ends of the spectrum.
John Mancini noted people who contributed toward the development of Official Community Plans need to be respected, reiterating the city should focus on such projects in the designated nodes.
City manager Sean McGill told the committee Delta currently doesn’t have any set limits when it comes to designating how many units in a project should be listed as affordable, and that each project will have to be judged on their own merits.
The city will put together a new housing action plan that will help clarify that component, he added.
The application is scheduled to come to council this September.
Meanwhile, the city has another application to build a 31-storey building in the 9500-block of Scott Road. Currently on hold, that application by Maple Leaf Homes would have 220 residential units with 1,356 square feet of commercial floor area.
Delta got its first skyscraper with the Delta Rise residential tower. That 37-storey tower at 80th Avenue and Scott Road consists of more than 300 units on top of four floors of office and retail space.