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Public hears more about Southlands proposal
Century Group says the homes it proposes to build on the Southlands property will be priced below the area average, but only time will tell whether that will be incentive enough to entice young families into the community and boost Tsawwassen's dwindling elementary school population.
This was one topic of discussion Tuesday evening (May 15) at the second of two public information meetings about the Southlands hosted by Century Group at the South Delta Recreation Centre.
During the designated question period, one Tsawwassen resident asked if Century Group envisions enough children living on the Southlands to warrant the reopening of Boundary Beach Elementary school, which closed down in 2009 due to lack of enrolment and a budget shorfall.
Century Group president Sean Hodgins said if the Southlands development proposal goes ahead, perhaps the Delta School District might consider the possibility.
"I would love to see that school open, I think it would be a great win for the community," Hodgins said. But he also noted that nearby elementary schools Pebble Hill and English Bluff are operating well below capacity.
Karel Ley, from the Southlands Community Planning Team, said the citizens' group has discussed ways to encourage young families to move into the area in order to improve school attendance.
"If the properties are financially viable for younger families, and for people like me who want to downsize to one of those delightful little cottages, then I can see this bringing the kind of people into the area that we need to support our grey population," Lay said.
Hodgins said homes on the Southlands will be priced at about $550,000 or less.
"That would be our target. That's hardly affordable housing, it's still market driven housing," he said. But he added that the average price of a home in Tsawwassen now is about $650,000.
"Our houses are going to be less money relative to the market in Tsawwassen right now," he said. "This is still market housing that we're trying to develop. Is it absolutely affordable? No. But is it more affordable? Yes."
Architect Patrick Cotter said the long-term buildout period will give Delta schools plenty of time to adapt to changing demographics.
"This is projected to unfold over many, many years, and that gives school districts a lot of advanced warning in terms of gradual increases in student demand," Cotter said.
Century Group's proposal is to build 950 housing units on 20 per cent of the 537-acre agricultural parcel. The other 80 per cent would be transferred to the Corporation of Delta for agriculture, natural habitat and public open space.
On April 4, the development company submitted an application to Delta council to rezone the Southlands for the first phase of development. Phase 1 would include 450 units, plus infrastructure and public amenities.
Last fall Century Group put forward an application to amend the Official Community Plan to allow new uses on the Southlands property.
Tuesday's public open house featured informational sign boards, presentations, a question-and-answer period and the opportunity to submit written comments.
Cotter gave an overview of the development plan, describing the mix of housing types and the Market Square situated at the village centre.
"Really what we have is a community that has as its focus, and at its core, the celebration of the agricultural component of the land, brought right into the centre of town, and a focus on community gardening as part of the character of the village," he said.
Paul Dorby, transportation planner for the project, emphasized the new east-west link that would run between 56th Street and Boundary Bay Road. He said the link, which turns into the "high street" at the town centre, will help distribute traffic and take pressure off of Boundary Bay Road.
The next step in the application process is for the Corporation of Delta to hold a public information meeting, likely in June. Council is expected to consider first and second reading in the fall and a public hearing would occur after second reading.