Hammond area plan almost ready

Neighbourhood residents will have a chance to speak out on plan to revitalize area and preserve heritage.

Maple Ridge council will soon be paging through the first version of the Hammond area plan, now that the folks in the neighbourhood have had their say.

After two open houses, online questionnaires, input via Instagram and Facebook, a photo project and video interviews, city staff are writing a plan that will set out how Hammond will grow over the next two decades.

Staff will be using seven guiding principles derived from the public’s input as a basis for the draft plan, which will go back to a public open house, before council gives it the final OK.

Those principles:

• retain the small-town charm and friendly atmostphere;

• ensure new buildings fit with the heritage and character of existing buildings;

• revitalize the historic commercial area along Maple Crescent;

• use sustainable building practices;

• enhance the trail system and community gathering places;

• flood protection steps;

• ensure safe roads;

• promote a safe community.

“We’re excited with the level of participation we’ve had … it’s been quite remarkable,” said community planning manager Jim Charlebois.

Long-term Hammond residents said on video they wanted to preserve the area’s historic nature. They wanted new housing to preserve the garden areas, and one said there was a feeling that buildings in Hammond are treading “lighter on the land.”

According to a staff report, residents realize that population growth has to occur in order to preserve and improve Hammond.

However, they want growth to maintain the neighbourliness of Hammond, and to preserve its green space, gardens and heritage.

Coun. Craig Speirs said residents are welcoming higher density, as long as it fits within the community and preserves the heritage.

He wanted to ensure that building design guidelines will be part of the new plan to ensure new buildings are appropriate.

He also asked if a neighbourhood gathering place could be part of the new plan.

“I think it’s amazing. It’s so inspiring to watch the videos,” added Mayor Nicole Read, who liked the use of social media in getting the public involved.

Coun. Corisa Bell added that she hopes social media will be used to the same extent in areas such as Albion.

Coun. Gordy Robson wanted to know how flood protection measures are being incorporated into the plan.

That process is just beginning, said planning director Christine Carter.

Anticipating future floods could determine what kind of development goes where.

Robson said staff should talk to the Fraser Basin Council, which manages flood issues for the Fraser River.

“The river is going to change over the next decade and I hope this plan accommodates for that.”

While Hammond fronts the Fraser River, council heard there’s little opportunity for a riverfront trail that would be part of the Experience the Fraser project.