Questions on Development in Chilliwack

Nov 11, 2014 by Sam Waddington in The Campaign Trail Leave a Comment

Some very thoughtful questions from Richard and Carol…. Here are my responses.

Hello and thank you for taking the time to craft such thoughtful questions.

Q – Chilliwack is located on top of some of the best farmland in the province. The value of what that land can provide today and to future generations cannot be compromised. Once the land is covered over with gravel and asphalt it is lost forever. Where do you stand on “infilling” of large tracts of prime farmland, including construction of residences, greenhouses, poultry barns and landscape nurseries?

A – I stand in full support of the ALR and I agree that we must understand that building on farmland will never be reversed and so it should not be viewed as a potential location for development. The issue of agricultural buildings as the use for farm land is a difficult one as currently the zoning allows for that. I do think however that all efforts should be made to use prime farm land for field farming, pasturing etc, rather than farm practices that could thrive on low quality lands instead.

Q – Hillside residential development over farmland has been a commendable focus of Council over the past 20 years. However, the goal for high density is resulting in safety concerns around land stability and water runoff, narrow roads and parking issues, and secondary “escape” routes. Where do you stand on density, road design, accessibility, and the level of engineering study for hillside development?

A – In line with your first question, if we do not develop on farm land, we must then focus on infill density and hillside development to accommodate Chilliwack’s growing population. We have clearly learned that building on the hillsides does not come without serious complications, however with an increase in the level of geo technical and environmental assessment of a site prior to development, the mitigation of such risks as sliding is very possible. As we infill we will also be met with issues such as parking and roadway capacity, however with a heightened focus on transit, cycling and other alternate modes of transportation, we will be able to build our city to accommodate. With an increase in density and population Chilliwack will be able to create more localized jobs that require less dependency on commuting, which will also aid in the reduction of transportation related issues.

Q – Baby boomers will continue to alter demographics in Chilliwack as elsewhere in the country. This aging population is healthier and more active than previous generations. Where do you stand on zoning for new freehold housing options conducive to seniors living independent and active in their own homes, eg. pedestrian friendly, close to key amenities, rancher style design, and with a lot size conducive to gardening and hobbies? Garrison is a creditable concept, yet lot size and house design are restrictive.

A – Chilliwack is and will continue to be a great place for active seniors to live and play. I would love to see more options for seniors facilities and residences built within our community to accommodate the diverse needs of the baby boomer generation. That being said i am also mindful of the limited residential development space of the kind you are speaking about and the need for our City to limit one story developments that lead to sprawling suburban neighborhoods, rather than higher use urban ones. Seniors friendly apartments and condos with community gardens, rooftop gardens and other urban farming techniques can be creative solutions for many people.

Q – Other communities have successfully developed pedestrian/ bicycle pathways connecting neighbourhoods to libraries, cultural and theatre centres, leisure and sport centres, hospital and medical offices, shopping and parks. Where do you stand on active construction of pathways independent of roads providing safe access to and from key community resources?

A – I am so glad that you asked about interurban trails and park spaces! I love walkable and cycling communities and if such spaces are planned correctly, they can be the seed for a vibrant city. You spoke about separated bike lanes and safe corridors and I believe that these are the key components to building corridors that people will choose to use for both commuting and recreation, aiding in the promotion of healthy and active lifestyles. Chilliwack is at the stage where the integration of these concepts must happen soon to be ahead of the growth that is coming and to allow for proper planning into future developments.

Thank you again for the questions and I hope that you see me as a great choice for helping to lead this city forward.