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Southlands plan back at council
The Corporation of Delta is prepared to receive a development application for the Southlands and municipal staff could present an application report to council as early at Oct. 17.
At the regular council meeting on Monday (Sept. 12), Century Group president Sean Hodgins reviewed the company's latest proposal to develop the controversial 538-acre parcel of agricultural land. The most recent draft, which he presented to council in June and tweaked over the summer, includes 950 homes on 20 per cent of the land, with 80 per cent—more than 400 acres—of privately held property transfered to Delta for public use.
Hodgins said he has followed council's direction in dedicating the majority of the land for public use, not pursuing an industrial agricultural application before July 1, and seeking more public input, which included information mail-outs and an open house on Aug. 18.
"In living up to my obligations I trust that council will live up to your obligations and continue on the productive path we began with the (Mayor's) Summit," Hodgins said, adding that requires council to become "an active participant" in the process. "The people of Tsawwassen want some answers as to what each of the current civic leaders, and those running for public office, believe ought to happen with this property."
Mayor Lois Jackson said council has remained relatively mum on the issue in order not to prejudice a decision of any member of council. If the development application goes to public hearing, Jackson said councillors must enter that stage "with an open mind looking at everything with new eyes and new ears."
Assuming Century Group submits a formal development application soon, municipal staff would then present a report for council's consideration at the Oct. 17 regular council meeting, at the earliest. At that point, council would decide whether to proceed with first and second reading.
The application would go to public hearing after second reading and, should council decide to give third reading, it would then go to Metro Vancouver for another public hearing to decide whether to remove the land from the Metro Green Zone.
"It's going to be a lengthy process that would start once Mr. Hodgins, on behalf of his company, submits the application," said CAO George Harvie.
During question period, Richard Kunz, of citizens group Southlands the Facts, which is opposed to development, expressed frustration at the laborious process to this point.
"What's the deal with all this foofaraw then Mayor Jackson? Why don't you just go straight to an application and get on with it?" he asked, adding the process has "put the community through years of pain and agony."
"Why don't we just get it on the table?"
Coun. Bruce McDonald has been watching the Southlands controversy unfold for 40 years and noted the 80-20 public-private land split is unlike anything he's ever seen.
"I believe the community has the right to have a discussion about that," he said. "I would hope that when the report comes back that it recommends that we do go to first and second reading and send this to the population of Tsawwassen to discuss."
About two decades ago, before Century Group acquired the land, it was the subject of one of Canada's longest-running public hearings where plans to develop the land failed. Delta council returned a recent larger-scale development proposal back to Century Group while discussion on the Tsawwassen Area Plan got underway and eventually proposed the land be returned to the Agricultural Land Reserve. But in early spring this year, council terminated a series of divisive public hearings on that matter and following a Mayor's Summit on the issue allowed Century Group to come up with its revised proposal.