Dear Mayor Braun, City Councilors and others:

 

RE:       Hearing for Dismissal of Land Use Contract No. 13  File No. PRJ16-067 and

The City of Abbotsford’s 2011 Affordable Housing Strategy

 

I have been a resident owner in the sub-division comprised of LUCs 14, 42, 49, 52, and 125 for over fourteen years.

 

After the July 25th hearing was cancelled I sent an email which I understand some of you did not receive it  so I am sending this directly to you for your convenience before Monday’s meeting.

 

I attended a meeting with a couple neighbors, and representatives of the City including Nick Crossman, and Darren Braun on August 10th 2016.  I am a little slow formulating my response due to a frozen shoulder, so please bear with me.

 

I understand the Provincial government requires all municipalities to discharge all LUC’s by 2024 giving municipalities ample time to put in place a zoning designation suitable for each LUC.  From the August 10th meeting I learned that the underlying zoning set for my neighbourhood was painted over in years past with an RS3 brush with no consideration to the uniqueness of our modular home subdivision.

 

Although this prospective change would afford me the freedom to build a shop/storage structure closer to my property line and make some other improvements without getting a variance, I see the broader consequences of the LUC dismissal proposed in File No. PRJ16-167 as the gateway to the loss of the last affordable housing option with a back yard available in our city. I have adjusted my outlook. I see that the “freedom” to accommodate my desired improvements is not worth the price to be paid by society in the loss of reasonably affordable property. I believe there are only two neighborhoods left in Abbotsford where similar LUC’s exist.

 

What we have in our “sub-division” is a unique neighborhood where single families can have a modest home with a yard without spending half a million dollars or more.  I know my neighbors by name and we actually spend time talking with each other. You don’t see this in many other neighborhoods, especially where the monster house concept exists.  Further, if it hadn’t been for this subdivision with the LUC I (and many others like me) would never have been able to get into the market or buy a home with a decent backyard.  If there is not a comparable zoning replacement created for my neighborhood then there will be no options like I had for others who are in need.  I know of two people right now who are interested but have been shut out by land developers.

 

As development speculators buy up our neighborhood with the intention of building monster houses with suites (legal or illegal), our affordable homes will be replaced with houses which will cost 3 or 4 times what our places go for now.  These homes are way out of reach for a lot of people.  Recently I was told of yet another person whose landlord raised her rent 37% forcing her to move out.  She does not have the energy or resources to fight this illegal rent raise.  This was just an apartment, how much more problematic is it for those who want to raise their children or retire in a home with a back yard? As food lines and homelessness increase with gainfully employed individuals, families or elderly citizens, how can we stand idly by and not step in to stop further erosion of affordable housing?

 

This erosion needs to be stopped!  And, the City of Abbotsford’s very own 2011 Affordable Housing Strategy Action Plan needs to be implemented – STARTING HERE AND NOW! 

 

  1. Deny this application – or at least table further consideration until closer to the 2024 LUC removal deadline.
  2. Send the OCP/underlying zoning for back to the planning department for review for this sub-division under LUCs 14, 42, 49, 52, and 125 and similar LUC’s like found in the Shore and Gilmore areas.
  3. Implement the action plan put forth in the 2011 Affordable Housing Strategy, Page 11 Objective 1. Preserve Existing Affordable Housing Units by:
  4. Create a zoning specifically for a Modular Home Subdivision as provided for by the Province’s Bill 17 such as RS3-A Single Family Modular Homes only zoning as the primary structure.  This is the option which requires the least resources from the City staff and finances.  See page 16 of the 2011 Affordable Housing Strategy. I don’t want an abortion like Cougar Court on my street (monster houses packed in like sardines with so many occupants that their vehicles spill on to the roads causing congestion and safety concerns).

 

I am not against “progress” and “development” or even making a profit as I also am involved in real estate investments.  It just seems to me that too much is being sacrificed at the altar of greed in the name of “Progress.”

 

Before it is too late and our neighbourhood also goes by way of the dinosaur, PLEASE put a stop to this redevelopment idea.  Create zoning to accommodate a neighbourhood like ours.  There needs to be whole neighbourhoods like ours designated for affordable housing. Don’t just put a political band aid on the issue by throwing up an apartment building (with no back yard) in an undesirable area and expect the working low and middle income citizens to jump up and down saying “Hallelujah” our government is really doing something for us.  The answer is not the band-aid.  The answer is preventative! Stop the destruction of neighborhoods like mine as outlines in the 2011 Affordable Housing Strategy.

 

It is imperative that all spectrums of the market are preserved and created as indicated in Figure 1 page 4 of the 2011 Affordable Housing Strategy!

At the August 10th meeting I heard repeated mention of the rights of the applicant to be heard and how she has had months of consultation through the application process. It seemed a lot like her petition was as good as granted.   Why do the rights of one individual get preference over the rights of of me and my neighbors who have actually lived here for years?  Where are our months of consultation scheduled?

 

You have the power and authority to make the decisions and changes requested in this letter to protect the long-time residents of my neighborhood.  I request that you make the only logical, balances decision that makes sense and aligns with the City of Abbotsford’s Affordable Housing Strategy.

 

 

The old adage “Act in haste, repent at leisure” applies here.  If consequences are not measured now, how long will it be before it is a friend or family member close to you (the public service employee or politician) who has to choose between a roof and a meal?

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.  I look forward to a positive conclusion to this matter at Monday’s hearing.

 

Respectfully,

 

Karen McKnight

choicelands@gmail.com

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