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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

VIDEO: Medea Ebrahimian mourned by friends and family

Memorial held for one the of three found dead at a house fire in Langley Meadows last month

LETTER: Politicians should be held accountable for their decisions

Another letter writer is critical of Langley Township’s handling of the Yorkson community park

Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce to hold series of COVID-related webinars

Tourism updates, Canada Emergency Response Benefit details, and public speaking workshops expected

Langley seniors centre offers food care and tax help but no recreation

The seniors facility has announced a partial reopening with limited services

17-year-old Langley resident Dylan Patterson earns free Chevy Malibu

Integra Tire owner Peter Foreman held an essay contest to determine a fitting recipient for the car

VIDEO: Musqueam Chief captures captivating footage of bald eagle catching meal

‘This is why we have chosen to live here since time immemorial,’ Chief Wayne Sparrow’s nephew says

Semi and BMW collide on South Surrey highway

At least one person to hospital, both vehicles sustained significant damage

Police ramp up efforts to get impaired drivers off B.C. roads this summer

July is dedicated to the Summer CounterAttack Impaired Driving Campaign

Migrant workers stage multi-city action for full status amid COVID-19 risks

‘COVID-19 has exacerbated an existing crisis’

Okanagan school drops ‘Rebels’ sports team name, citing links with U.S. Civil War

Name and formerly-used images “fly in the face” of the district’s human rights policy, says board chair

PHOTOS: B.C.’s top doc picks up personalized Fluevog shoes, tours mural exhibition

Murals of Gratitude exhibit includes at least one portrait of Henry alongside paintings of health-care workers

In troubled times: Independence Day in a land of confusion

Buffeted by invisible forces and just plain worn out, the United States of America celebrates its 244th birthday

Stop enforcing sex work laws during COVID-19, advocates say

There are provisions in Canada’s prostitution laws that make workers immune from prosecution, but not from arrest

Liberal party finished 2019 having spent $43 million, raised $42 million

All political parties had until midnight June 30 to submit their financial reports for last year

Most Read