7288 Pioneer Avenue is up for redevelopment, as council considered a three-storey proposal for the vacant lot. (Grace Kennedy/The Observer)

New developments bring density questions to Agassiz

Kent council discussed how new buildings could bring density to the downtown core

Demands for density in downtown Agassiz were the topic of some conversation during Kent council Monday (Feb. 25) as council members discussed the future of several development proposals.

The first proposal to come before council was a three-storey mixed-use building on Pioneer Avenue.

The development, located at 7228 Pioneer Ave, would have commercial space on the ground floor and four apartment units on the upper floors.

The lot is currently zoned to a maximum residential density of 50 units per hectare, which would allow 3.17 units in the three-storey building. Rather than restricting the development to three units, staff recommended that council allow the development to build four in exchange for a $12,000 bonus density fee.

(Because the development only needs 0.83 additional units, it would pay the district $9,960.)

This fee is not without precedent: in 2010, the district allowed a increased density for a development at 1892 Park St for $5,000 per unit above the zone’s maximum density.

That Park Street project ultimately didn’t go forward — during council, staff said the developer had no intent of following through with the development and just wanted to sell it — and on Monday staff suggested that council update the bonus density provisions for the Park Street development to also have them pay $12,000 per unit.

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“There’s quite a bit of profit to be made in a good market for apartment units in Agassiz and the Fraser Valley in general,” Darcey Kohuch, director of development services, explained. “I think $12,000 is something the district could benefit from … and it’s still reasonable for the developer considering the market.”

For councillor Duane Post, increasing the bonus density fee to $12,000 seemed counter-productive to creating affordable housing in the Fraser Valley.

“If we want to try and increase some density, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it does add costs to everybody,” he said. “I know the market’s gone up, but this is why markets go up too I guess. Because costs go up.”

Despite Post’s concerns, the bonus density fee for both developments was approved. The Pioneer Avenue development will be brought forward to a public hearing on March 25.

Down the road, at 6936 Pioneer Avenue, council is considering a two-level building with commercial space on the ground floor and one residential unit above.

Mayor Sylvia Pranger said she was disappointed the proposal wasn’t three storeys.

“We don’t have much land,” she said. “I would have liked to see additional density.”

The proposal was given first and second reading Monday, and the public hearing was waived as the zoning changes fit with the district’s Official Community Plan.



grace.kennedy@ahobserver.com

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