Planning price tag for futuristic ‘We Town’ concept in Abbotsford revealed

Developer says highrises would house 30,000, but Abbotsford mayor says project is in wrong place

Giving full consideration to a proposal for a futuristic neighbourhood on the slopes of Sumas Mountain will cost the City of Abbotsford $675,000 and require other planning work to be put on hold, staff say in a report headed to council on Monday.

The developers of the Auguston neighbourhood have floated a concept for a new development called “We Town,” which they say would become a high-tech employment hub and house nearly 30,000 people.

The proposal envisions the construction of multiple high-rises with 15 million square feet of floor space. Auguston Town Developments says nearly everyone who lives on site would also work at We Town. The development would be located just south of Auguston.

Council got its first look at the proposal in October. Eric Vance, an independent consultant hired by the city to evaluate the concept, said the proposal had the potential to stimulate massive amounts of economic growth. But Vance also warned that many of its underlying assumptions – including the live-work ratio, and the consumer appetite for tens of thousands of small apartments – could be overly ambitious. The concept also doesn’t take into account the area’s riparian areas, and its 20-year buildout plan might not be feasible, Vance warned.

PHOTOS: Highrises with 40,000 residents part of architects’ concept for Auguston

The city’s official community plan had envisioned the addition of 15,000 residents in new Sumas Mountain neighbourhoods. Given that the We Town idea would triple that figure, staff asked whether council should include the concept within a neighbourhood plan for the McKee Peak area. Council voted in October to direct city planners to include the We Town concept in the project, but not all were sold on the proposal.

The majority of council said the city needed to pursue the idea, lest it miss-out on a “game-changer.” But Mayor Henry Braun, and Couns. Ross Siemens and Brenda Falk opposed pursuing the idea, with Braun suggesting that it goes against the OCP and is in the wrong place.

A new staff report notes the concept envisions the creation of a second “City Centre,” and would require significant infrastructure and amenity upgrades.

The report shows how much time and money will have to be spent just to fully consider We Town and its implications. The report doesn’t include the cost of actually undertaking the upgrades themselves.

Council will be asked on Monday to approve a $675,000 budget amendment, that would allow the city to hire more consultants and increase the scope of environmental, geotechnical and archaeological studies of the We Town area. Among other things, staff and consultants will need to figure out how We Town would impact the city’s new master plans for its fire and rescue service and its parks, recreation and culture department.

A variety of other projects may face delays, including the creation of a new heritage strategy, zoning bylaw updates, and the AgRefresh work to update the city’s agriculture policies.

The report also warns that if and when council gives final approval to a new neighbourhood plan that includes the We Town concept, more money and time will be needed to update the OCP and various other plans to reflect the various implications of the proposed massive project.

RELATED: Futuristic development on Abbotsford hillside met with optimism, skepticism

RELATED: 5 reasons why We Town would be a good idea & 5 reasons why it might not work

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:
tolsen@abbynews.com


@ty_olsen
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

OUR VIEW: Fox fight continues

Thanks for keeping this courageous young man’s vision alive 40 years later

Lantern Park townhomes set to open this Sunday on Aldergrove/Abbotsford border

Developer Peter Reimer said more homes, including a mid-rise complex, are in store for the future

Scarecrow Festival given COVID twist

Art’s Nursery’s annual fall fundraiser, on the Langley-Surrey border, continues with some tweaks

Greater Vancouver Zoo turns to zoom for virtual visits

Aldergrove attraction encourages online learning while construction commences to modernize park

Plea deal results in guilty plea in fatal Langley shooting in 2017

First degree murder charge amended to conspiracy to commit murder

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Air quality advisory ends for the Lower Mainland

It had been in effect since Sept. 8

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Most Read