Abbotsford with an area of almost 375 square kilometres – is the largest city in BC. (It’s not the largest municipality as there are district municipalities which are far larger like Tumbler Ridge with 1,558 square kilometres). Supplying services to all areas of Abbotsford is expensive. Yet Abbotsford has a practice of allowing development in any area without having the developments pay for providing the services. As a result, we, the taxpayers, have had to pay for these services. Development is even encouraged in the Agricultural Land Reserve as evidenced by the Abbotsford West Exclusion Application which the majority of council voted to forward to the ALC with the recommendation that it be excluded.
There is no consistency in development in Abbotsford:
- High-density developments are encouraged in older larger lot neighbourhoods.
- High-rises with commercial space are approved for residential neighbourhoods.
- Applications for exclusion of farmland from the ALR are routinely forwarded to the ALC with recommendation to approve.
- Farmland that has been excluded for industrial development has been changed to commercial development
- Industrial land is routinely up zoned to commercial resulting in complaints that there is no industrial land.
The current Official Community Plan which is supposed to guide development is routinely ignored by both staff and council. At a recent council meeting a councillor stated that he the OCP is a fluid document and need not be followed. Council then voted to allow a development to proceed to public hearing despite it being outside the OCP development area, with no services in the area and against staff’s recommendation that it be denied.
It is not only council that is derelict in following the OCP, but also staff. The staff report recommending a subdivision on east Marshall this last spring did not consider the current OCP requirement that development is to reflect the form and character of the neighbourhood. It also under calculated the proposed density thus giving the appearance that the development would fit into the neighbourhood. The inaccuracies of the report weren’t realized until I reviewed it for the public hearing.
The current OCP is being updated. Council has encouraged everyone to get involved but we know that very little of what we say will be considered. What is the purpose of updating the OCP if council does not follow it?
Abbotsford needs a strong vision for the future – a vision of what our community will look like in 10, 20, 30 years and beyond: One that will guide us in developing a strong vibrant community; that recognizes the dreams and interests of those who live here. For too long Abbotsford has been chasing development – any development and we have ended up accommodating developments that do little to contribute to our quality of life.
With a vision of what we want, we need a strong council can critically examine development proposals and evaluate staff reports. A council that will say no when the proposals don’t support the vision or the cost to the community is too high.
If we have a vision, as well as a council and staff that support, an Official Community Plan can then have value and
My Expertise and Position
I am probably one of a very few that has read not only Abbotsford’s Official Community Plan but those of other municipalities as well. Abbotsford’s current OCP can provide sufficient direction and certainty if the concepts and spirit it contains were followed. Because it is a loose conceptual plan, a review and rewrite is a good idea.
I believe that Abbotsford doesn’t need development at any cost but we need good development and we need to say NO to bad development. Good development adds to the quality of life, supports those who live, work and play here and is aligned with the vision for Abbotsford. Good development is not done at the expense of either those who live here or at the businesses that are already here.
Agriculture is the major economic driver of Abbotsford and I believe our community planning should protect and enhance this sector. We need to no longer forward applications to the ALC with council recommendations to exclude.
I believe that Abbotsford is unique in its setting with a city core surrounded urban residential and green space (protected by the ALR). It has the University of the Fraser Valley, the Abbotsford International Airport and close proximity to the US border. Our planning should maximize these attributes and we should court developments that support these features