After a huge amount of opposition at a public meeting for a new 247-unit Onni townhouse development in Pitt Meadows on Tuesday night, councillors are talking about scaling the density back.
More than 100 people turned up at Pitt Meadows City Hall, and most of those who spoke opposed the density of the Sutton Place project in South Bonson, complaining about increased traffic and safety.
“We cross Airport Way from Southgate Road all the time and it’s getting increasingly dangerous,” said Melony Cooper, a South Bonson mother of three, adding that with 400-plus new vehicles in the neighbourhood, “I see a lot of problems.”
Amber Gabriele lives in Blaney Crescent, on property that backs onto Airport Way.
“Almost every day I hear this a screeching halt as someone just about gets killed crossing the road,” she said.
Many who spoke said they fell in love with small town charm of Pitt Meadows, and it is threatened by the townhouse project. It was originally proposed for 270 units, and Onni has scaled it down to 247.
“In the few seconds that it takes you to raise your hand on this proposal, in that split second, you’re going to change the lives of the people in South Bonson forever,” said Ron Bennewith. “The reason most of us moved from the chaos and the traffic west of the Pitt River to Pitt Meadows is for the beauty and the natural place that we live in.”
Jeff Campbell, a Thorburn Way resident who has lived in Pitt Meadows for seven years, said the city is a place where people still walk at night and kids play hockey in the street – especially in the South Bonson area.
“It’s still safe, we can let them go out and play. We don’t have to be those helicopter parents,” he said.
While the proposed density lines up with the official community plan, “I don’t think they line up with the special place that Pitt Meadows is.”
One who spoke in favour was Fran Pattison of Ford Road. She generally supports the townhouse project.
“I just really like the idea that maybe my grandchildren could afford to actually buy a place, and it seems to me that the greater the density, the lower the purchase price,” she said.
The property is north of Sutton Avenue, just west of Bonson Road, and is 4.67 hectares in size. The density would be 53 units per hectare. It would offer 548 parking spaces, but is only required to have 483. Sutton Ave. will be widened, allowing two-lane traffic flow with parking on both sides and sidewalks.
According to the developer’s traffic consultant, the morning peak hour would see 107 more vehicle trips, and the evening peak hour 127 more vehicle trips. The majority will use Airport Way to access the development.
Council will compile all of the issues into a report, to be reviewed on Nov. 17, with answers from staff.
Already, many councillors are suggesting it be reduced in size to 200 units.
“I don’t know why we’re beating around the bush. We know we need to make changes to this, so let’s just do it,” Coun. Bruce Bell said to a round of applause.
But council voted to give the matter due process.
“There’s not appetite from any member of council to have that many units,” predicted Coun. Tracy Miyashita.
Coun. Janis Elkerton said she has rarely seen such opposition to a development.
“It needs to go back to the drawing board,” she said.
She suggested 200 units is a better number for the size of the property being developed.