Fleetwood residents voiced their opinions at a recent public hearing against a townhouse development proposed to be built in the middle of their neighbourhood.
Dawson + Sawyer Lands Ltd. is seeking to redesignate four lots in the 15100-block of 91st Avenue from urban to multiple residential and to rezone the site to allow for the construction of a 51-townhouse complex.
But locals feel the neighbourhood between 152nd Street and Fraser Highway is not fit for such a large housing property.
"We were shocked that they would propose a development of that size on those four pieces of property on such a small residential street," said Chuck Lewer, a resident of the parallel 91A Avenue for more than 25 years.
Chuck and his wife, Sandra, received a letter when the project was first proposed. They were wary of the concept.
"We, in the past years, have gone through many townhouse complexes because my son was looking for something to purchase," said Sandra. "Many of the complexes we encountered, we noted there's not enough visitor parking, people are parking on the streets, suites are made in some of these complexes."
They and many other neighbours turned out to the hearing on Oct. 1. By that time, a petition against the development had gathered 17 signatures and was presented to council. A petition in favour of the development had nine signatures.
Sandra said the area already has a number of traffic problems: drivers heading southbound on 152nd Street frequently try to cut through the neighbourhood to Fraser Highway, despite signage saying there is no through road.
The road also narrows when people park on the street, which Sandra attributed to residents using the garages for storage and to the number of basement suites in the area.
However, Sam Hooge of Dawson + Sawyer said the complex would not allow for basement suites and that rapid transit in the area will reduce the need for vehicles by residents.
The complex would have 99 residential parking spots and nine visitor spots, as well as 10 public parking spots along 91st Avenue.
"We're passionate about infill development next to shopping and transit," said Hooge. "It really truly does allow families to reduce the number of vehicles required per household.
"You're increasing affordability by reducing the monthly vehicle expenses for homeowners. It also assists with the city's targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions."
Another concern was the impact on local schools. Fleetwood Elementary school closed in June 2009 and the other local school, Berkshire Park Elementary, may not be able to handle the influx of new students.
"If you're going to have 50 townhouses, you're not going to tell me like, what'd they quote, something like 12 students," said Sandra.
By the end of the hearing, councillors Tom Gill, Linda Hepner and Barbara Steele each said they could not approve the proposal at this time.
"I do believe that the future will have significantly more density given the opportunities on Fraser Highway as it relates to rapid transit," said Gill, "but at the current time, I'm just having some difficulty being able to accept the proposal as is."
"I can't support it in its current form either," added Hepner. "I consider it premature."
Council voted to send the proposal back to staff to work on a larger plan and get more involvement from the community.
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