Delta council gave fourth and final reading to the Century Group’s Southlands development Monday to put a decades-old controversy to rest.
The project includes 950 housing units in various forms and densities and approximately 80,000 square feet of ground-orientated commercial space. Century will give Delta 170 hectares (425 acres), about 80 per cent of the total Tsawwassen property, to be used for agriculture, natural habitat, public open space and greenways.
Mayor Lois Jackson, who was sick but took part in the Southlands discussion via phone, called it “a historic decision” and encouraged councillors to support the application. She also thanked staff and noted there have been “thousands and thousands” of hours spent on negotiations.
The approval opens the door for initial infrastructure work. Century president Sean Hodgins previously told the Optimist once final approval is given the first activity will likely be a new farm road crossing the Southlands as well as a water line from the Pebble Hill reservoir.
Delta director of community planning and development Jeff Day said the project’s anticipated build-out period is 15 to 20 years over multiple phases. He added development would start with the Market Square and expand outward from that point.
Coun. Bruce McDonald went into the history of the property, previously known as the Spetifore lands, which included the longest public hearing in Canadian history in 1989.
“I have to say that after all of that time, painful sometimes that it was, I believe what has been proposed and what has been finally put together by Century ... is going to be a major benefit to Delta and certainly to South Delta,” he said.
Coun. Ian Paton referenced the ongoing issue of housing prices in Metro Vancouver.
“Some people want to bury their heads in the sand and say, ‘Well, we don’t want any new homes, or condominiums or townhouses in our area.’ But you can’t bury your head in the sand. The economists keep telling us on the radio every day that if you’re going to bring the price of homes down in Metro Vancouver, you have to add supply. If supply starts to exceed demand, the price of homes will start to go down.”
He also said Delta will get $9 million to help fix the drainage and irrigation, an issue he noted was a historic problem with the property.
Coun. Sylvia Bishop, who was acting mayor, said during the meeting she had nothing new to add to previous comments detailing her opposition to the proposal but did say that, “I feel my job then, as long as I’m on council, is to make sure that everything that has been promised is delivered to the minimum and even improved upon if possible as we go forward through the 15- to 20-year build-out.”
Afterwards she told the Optimist the project receiving final reading was predictable.
“The support for it has been consistent all the way along, and I have been also consistent in my lack of support for it.”