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City seeks more jobs at Sapperton Green

An artist
An artist's rendering of how the 'Station Precinct' might look, with the Braid SkyTrain station shown at right.
— image credit: Contributed image

More jobs.

That's what city council has told the developers of the massive Sapperton Green development they want to see in the project.

Last week, council approved Bentall Kennedy moving to public consultation for its plan for the 38.5 acre site next to the Braid SkyTrain station.

The one caveat before this can happen, however, is that council wants to hear back from city staff on shifting the mix of the development ot have less residential and more "job generating" uses.

Artist's rendering of the 'Hume Park Precinct' looking south along Central Valley Greenway, with Hume Park on the right. Contributed image

While he praised many aspects of the draft plan, Coun. Jonathan Coté said currently the project appears to have as much as seven times residential as employment-oriented space.

"That's not quite what I envisioned that ratio to be," said Coté, although he admitted he couldn't peg an ideal number. "It's not often in a city of our age that we have such a large parcel of land to do some interesting things. It's next to SkyTrain, Highway 1 and the Central Valley Greenway. It's important we get the site right."

Coté said the property is the last big chunk of land that could potentially generate employment as well as contribute commercial property taxes to city coffers.

"Twenty-five years from now we're not going to be able to accommodate any new jobs because [the land has] been given away to residential developments," Coté added.

Coun. Betty McIntosh disagreed.

She said Bentall Kennedy has already been working on the project for three years and knows what would be viable for the area. McIntosh is also skeptical of the site's potential to generate jobs. An economist at a recent conference pointed out the need for retail and commercial space is dwindling because shoppers can go online and office workers can do their jobs from home.

She said building retail on the ground floor with housing above, or more office space, is becoming less practical.

"What do you expect [to be built] at the SkyTrain station. Office buildings? We've just had a history of [struggling] to sell an office building at a SkyTrain station."

Artist's rending of the 'Braid Street Precinct' looking up towards Hume Park and existing neighbourhood. Contributed image

The plan notes the development would mean 7,500 new residents in the next 20 years. They would occupy between 2.8 million and 3.4 million square feet of residential floor space in buildings ranging from three to 35 storeys.

It will feature four precincts. The Braid Street Precinct would be the gateway to the development and be mostly office and commercial with some residential. The Hume Park Precinct will be primarily residential while the Station Precinct next to SkyTrain will be almost all office and retail with some rental housing. The Neighbourhood Heart Precinct will overlap the other three, with gathering spaces, parks and plazas.

Original plans had one entrance to the development on Rousseau Street at Braid. But an alternate access point off the Brunette/Highway 1 overpass has been identified that the city, the Ministry of Transportation and TransLink would be willing to consider.

The draft plan will be used as a basis for a potential amendment to the Official Community Plan. It will be going out to several agencies and committees for review. It will also be the subject of an open house and a presentation to the Sapperton-McBride Residents Association.

Sapperton Green June 23 Agenda by NewWestEditor

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