North Delta doesn't want to be Burnaby.
That's what Delta council heard Tuesday night as residents packed into a public hearing at Kennedy Seniors Recreation Centre to speak their piece about a 37-storey apartment tower proposed to be built near Scott Road.
Blexo Developments Ltd. wants to build the highrise at 11941 80th Ave., where a nursery and coffee shop used to be before they were demolished in 2004.
Council could be voting on it as early as next Monday. If approved, the building would be by far the tallest in North Delta. Runners-up would be the three 14-storey buildings now standing, one at 88th Avenue and 119th Street and the other two across the street from where this new building would be built, just south of the Delta Shoppers Mall off Scott Road.
"We feel this is the best location in Delta to locate such a project," said Colin Hogan, of Focus Architecture Inc.
Hogan hopes the project - if approved - will act "as a catalyst for future development in Delta."
Resident Keith Shotbolt didn't share that sentiment.
"Traffic in North Delta is a nightmare and this will make it worse," Shotbolt told council.
He said he fears such a building would devalue neighbouring properties and he also is concerned as to whether the Delta Fire Department has the necessary equipment and training to tackle an upper-storey fire in a building that tall.
Delta Fire Chief Dan Copeland could not be reached by press time Wednesday to answer that question.
Hogan told council the building would contain 359 apartment suites as well as 24,800 square feet of commercial space on the first four floors and 511 parking stalls in a four-level parkade, with two of those levels above ground.
The 1.5-acre site could accommodate two towers, Hogan said, but the developer opted for only one because two would limit views and cast a broader shadow.
Some people at the hearing chuckled after Hogan told council the project would increase local traffic by about two per cent.
"The intersections in the area are sized with ample capacity to handle that additional traffic load."
At the outset of the three-hour hearing, municipal staff told council that one person had registered their support for the project, 13 were against, and a 112-signature petition against the project had been filed. Hogan said there are 300 letters from local residents in support.
All told, at Tuesday's hearing eight spoke in support of the project while another 18 spoke either against it or expressed concerns.
One speaker said he was "blown away" - in a bad sense, that is - when he heard about the height proposed and suggested council is "on an ego trip" for even contemplating the project.
Another speaker said he doesn't want to see highrises popping up in North Delta as they have elsewhere in Greater Vancouver.
"I don't want to see North Delta become another Burnaby," he said.