Pitt wrestles with last big residential development

Onni proposes another 245 townhouses on Sutton Avenue

What could be the last big residential development in Pitt Meadows is taking some heat from neighbours.

Pitt Meadows council started the approval process for the new 245-unit townhouse complex located at 19451 Sutton Ave., and some of the opponents didn’t like the timing. Because the meeting was held last Tuesday at 3 p.m. many of the neighbours were at work, and could not be on hand to ask questions.

Coun. Janis Elkerton said she has had numerous calls and e-mails, and even been “stopped on the street about this project.”

She said council should be sensitive to the public, and said the afternoon meeting brought to mind the “Swan-e-set days,” when council and the public were at odds over an unpopular subdivision proposal.

“Are we following our own procedure bylaws,” asked Elkerton.

Mayor John Becker said the procedures changed when council took one of its two monthly council-in-committee meetings and made it a special meeting, in which it could do business, including considering bylaws.

The mayor put the Sutton Avenue subdivision on the afternoon agenda, not staff, due to the volume of work that council is facing.

“The optics are not good in the community,” said Elkerton, adding it should have been dealt with at a 7 p.m. evening meeting.

Onni, the developer, held a public consultation on June 4 at the South Bonson Community Centre, and has met with the city’s advisory design panel four times.

In response to feedback a those meetings, Onni has made some changes to its proposal, which is located at the corner of Bonson Road and Airport Way.

The original proposal was for 270 townhouse units, but the current proposal is down to 247 units. The density of 53 units per hectare is consistent with the official community plan, noted Kate Zanon, director of development services with the city.

Other changes include east-west pedestrian connections, a winding road with a varied streetscape and extended sidewalks.

Regulations would require 483 parking spots in the complex, but 548 will be provided, in response to concerns about the project.

The developer will widen Sutton to provide on-street parking and a walkway, noted Zanon.

Pitt Meadows resident Ron Bennewith appreciated that council agreed to a larger than usual mailout to residents neighbouring the property, advising of a coming public meeting. He expects his neighbours to come out and voice their opinions.

“There’s too many units packed into that area,” he said, and added that the increase in traffic will make Airport Way a dangerous thoroughfare.

Elkerton has heard complaints that the density of the project does not match adjacent neighbourhoods. However, the density does create efficiencies for the city in providing services, she said.

Elkerton noted the significance of the project, in that it is the last land available for a residential development of this scope.

“This is one of the last big projects we can do, and we’re going to do it right.”

Becker echoed that sentiment, noting that Onni has been back and forth with the city’s design panel, and is sticking to the OCP.

“Council will make sure the development is one that we’re going to be proud of, while being sensitive to the concerns of the neighbours.”

Council gave the project first and second reading, which allows the project to proceed to a public hearing.

The public hearing on the proposal will take place on Oct. 20, at the regular council meeting.

 

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