Public to speak on higher densities

Residents will have another chance to voice opinion on higher densities in Albion

Maple Ridge residents will have another chance at kicking around the concept of higher densities in Albion, after council sent a bylaw proposal to a September public hearing Tuesday.

Some councillors, though, were still cautious about such a concept, used in most Lower Mainland municipalities, in which developers pay extra contributions in return for minor bumping up of the population density of their projects.

“I’m very interested to see what developers and the public say about these, as well, because it’s going to affect housing costs,” said Coun. Michael Morden.

He eventually agreed, though, to first and second reading, along with five other councillors, leaving only Coun. Corisa Bell voting against it.

Instead, Bell proposed altering the public hearing format so that people could ask questions at the public hearing, which she said is allowed under provincial law.

Staff, though, were to check whether that was possible.

Planning director Christine Carter said the project is considered a test project, but written so that it could be applied in other areas of Maple Ridge, only if council decided.

Under the bylaw, density could be increased by allowing 557-sq.-metre lots, in zones which were intended for half-acre lots of 2,023 sq. metres.

In zones intended for single family lots of 557-sq. metres, density could be increased by allowing lot sizes of 371 sq. metres, to create a larger number of lots.

Zones allowing townhouses could also see higher density projects. If developers wanted to take advantage of any of those increases, they’d pay an extra $3,100 per lot. That would go into a fund to pay for parks, trails and, if council decided, a project such as a community hall.

The maximum increase in the number of lots that could result from new developments, mostly north of 108th Avenue, would be 280.

“It does look like it could go into other areas,” said Coun. Al Hogarth.

“It is not clear how it would be administered elsewhere and where are the benchmarks.”

Bell, though, wanted more fine tuning of the proposal, saying it doesn’t provide what residents wanted.

“I’m not convinced we’re quite there yet.”

Coun. Cheryl Ashlie said it’s time to move forward and allow the public to comment.

“That’s what a public hearing is all about.”

Council could rescind second reading after the public hearing and rewrite the plan if there’s strong opposition to it.

Developers have been asking for such a concept, staff have said.