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Residents of earlier phase of Willoughby development object to planned densities

Vesta Properties is proposing a 125-unit townhouse development in Willoughby, as phase four of its Milner Heights project. Neighbours, some of whom live in earlier phases of the development, expressed concerns about the density of the project at a public hearing on Monday, June 16. - Submitted image
Vesta Properties is proposing a 125-unit townhouse development in Willoughby, as phase four of its Milner Heights project. Neighbours, some of whom live in earlier phases of the development, expressed concerns about the density of the project at a public hearing on Monday, June 16.
— image credit: Submitted image

People who bought homes in the initial phase of a major housing project in Langley Township are objecting to a proposal that would increase the density of the next phase.

Dozens of them filled seats in council chambers for a public hearing Monday night, June 16, on the application by developer Vesta Properties to build 125 townhouses near 72 Avenue and 208 Street, phase four of the Milner Estates project in Willoughby.

That is more than the current zoning allows, so the company has applied to increase the allowable density from 21 units per hectare to 23.

A report by Township staff recommends approval, saying the project is “consistent with the overall objectives of the Northeast Gordon Estates Neighbourhood Plan and Willoughby Community Plan and the applicant is providing community amenities to support the increase in density.”

Those amenities include building 14 housing units with wider doors and hallways and other features that can be adapted for elderly and disabled people; a “natural play area” and playground for children; and more than doubling the amount of space for a “child friendly amenity area” from the minimum of 1,000 square metres to 2,300.

More than 20 people spoke against the plan at the Monday night hearing, most of them owners who bought in the previous phases of the Vesta project.

They predicted approving the higher-density plan will increase traffic through their neighbourhood, causing congestion and possible safety hazards, especially for children.

The increased density will also add more students to already overloaded local schools, they warned.

Edward Burgess called the plan “an attempt to maximize profits at the expense of neighbourhood attractiveness.

Jay Easton said vehicles were already racing through the area and the project would only increase the potential hazard.

“Nobody wants to read in the newspaper that another kid got injured,” Easton said.

Clint Lee of the Live Langley civic party called the project another example of excessive density, saying “congestion does not add to the livability of an area.”

A delegation from Vesta said the traffic from multi-family housing would actually be lower than that from single family homes.

Vesta president Kent Sillars said his company could have asked for a bigger increase in density, but chose not to.

“We are doing less density than we could,” Sillars said, adding “we are not asking for something that is outrageous.”

Asked about the suggestion by some speakers that some Vesta sales people led buyers to believe the site in question would be used for single family homes, Sillars said “they may have,” adding “that is worrisome to me.”

The proposed project will come back to council for a decision at a future date.

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