Modular river homes rile Fern Cres. residents

Will require moving of urban boundary, council reviews Sept. 15

Harvey Gigun looks at a map of a modular home development that is being planned for the lot beside his home along Fern Crescent

Harvey Gigun looks at a map of a modular home development that is being planned for the lot beside his home along Fern Crescent

Residents are worried and district staff are concerned about a plan to put 166 new homes on both sides of the South Alouette River at 240th Street.

“It’s setting a precedent. They’re ripping up the OCP,” said Harvey Gigun, who lives next to the proposed development on Fern Crescent.

He’s concerned about the increased housing density suggested, from 2.5 residential units per hectare to more than 40.

“That’s not even in Albion,” Gigun said of the density.

The row home developments in Albion range between 30 to 40 units per net hectare.

“The sign went up and the entire neighourhood is talking about it,” Gigun said of Fern Crescent.

“It’s generating a lot of controversy already and it’s still in its infancy. This is pristine, environmental land here.”

The proposal is to build 166 modular homes on 237 sq.-metre-lots in a development that would straddle the river.

Currently, the homes in the area, such as Gigun’s, where he’s lived for 20 years, are on acre lots.

The development would also eliminate a horse trail in the area.

Gigun’s not opposed to modular homes – pointing out the PNE prize home is modular – providing they’re large enough.

District of Maple Ridge planning director Christine Carter said modular homes are not the same as mobile homes found in trailer parks.

“A modular home looks like a regular house. The pieces are put together on the property. You wouldn’t know the difference,” between a modular home and a conventionally built home, she added.

But staff have some concerns about the proposal.

“It is a significant jump in density,” Carter said.

To allow the development, the district would have to change its official community plan to adjust its urban boundary – the dividing line that separates where it would allow dense, urban-type development and rural housing on acreages.

Still, the type of housing being proposed, modular rancher-style homes with no basements and no stairs, are popular in the marketplace.

“A lot of empty nesters are saying they want smaller homes with no stairs,” Carter said.

The proposal wouldn’t require an amendment to Metro Vancouver’s regional growth strategy because that document already recognizes urban density in that area.

The Alouette River Management Society met Thursday to discuss the issue. Council looks at the application at its Sept. 15 committee meeting.