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Commercial shopping centre paves over public criticism

After listening to public opinion two weeks ago, the City of Abbotsford has decided to accept the proposal for a 130,000 square foot commercial shopping centre.

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By Megan Lambert (The Cascade) – Email

Print Edition: June 17, 2015

Photo Credit Gexydaf : Flickr

After listening to public opinion two weeks ago, the City of Abbotsford has decided to accept the proposal for a 130,000 square foot commercial shopping centre.

Despite opposition from UFV students and community members, Abbotsford City Council passed the motion last Monday to move forward with the new shopping centre. The outdoor sporting goods store Cabela’s will be the main focal point, with a large parking lot and other commercial spaces for other retailers.

The centre will be on the corner of the Trans-Canada Highway and McCallum Rd., within a 5-km radius of UFV. Because of the bylaw changing from 12 to 81 per cent commercial, some community members felt that the project would interfere with the livable character of the U-District and Official Community Plan (OCP). These initiatives promote public transportation, mixed-use business and residential properties, and a “livable” way of life. Some citizens felt that the new shopping centre didn’t fit in with a sustainable way of life.

“The public clearly articulated a different vision for Abbotsford with their input into the Abbotsforward OCP process. I don’t see how a development like this fits in to this input,” UFV alumni Derrick Swallow says in an electronic message after the meeting. He spoke at the last public hearing regarding the potential U-District planning.

Mayor Henry Braun spoke to this, admitting that the site does not exactly fit in with the OCP or the U-District.

“These plans need to address the concerns of the private sector as well, in order to create employment,” he says.

He then went on to say that the complex goes beyond needs within the city and would attract traffic from outside of Abbotsford.

On top of the noise and dust coming from the construction on the site, a complaint from citizens was that the construction was happening before the public hearing. Speakers from the hearing said this was a mark of City Council’s attitude toward public consultation.

“[It] makes this entire exercise almost feel useless,” former Student Union Society vice-president Dylan Thiessen said at the public hearing.

However, Braun also addressed these concerns on Monday. He says the construction on the land was to remove pipes from the previous trailer park, layers of peat soil, and to raise the plot of land. He said that the developer obtained legal permits from the city, and that it did not show predetermined support from the city for the proposal.

“The citizens recently elected a new council, and through that process indicated their support for us to govern this city,” he says. The motion was passed unanimously, with other city council members offering their support.

The site’s completion date is fall 2016.

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