Residents blast Willoughby development project over rats and parking

Neighbours of a planned commercial, office, and townhouse project on the Willoughby slope raised concerns about everything from property values to rats.

At a public hearing on Monday, almost 20 residents objected to the construction of a Portrait Homes project in the 20300 block of 65th Avenue.

Most of the residents live directly to the north of the site on 66th Avenue.

“Too many buildings are proposed for the lot size,” said June Clydesdale.

The project calls for a mixed complex with two buildings containing 120 apartments, 4,990 square feet of commercial space facing 65th Avenue, and 13,690 feet of office space.

Another 91 townhouse units would back up the slope north of 65th Avenue towards existing developments.

Some residents worried about whether construction will damage their foundations, and others said they feared for their property values.

Homes in the area are having their resale value undermined by the pace of development, said Richard Alexander.

Alexander said he bought his home for $315,000 and estimates he has lost about $30,000 in resale value.

He said the problem is that new developments are being built rapidly and are being sold for the same or cheaper prices than he paid for his home. New residents to the area have no incentive to buy an older home when a new one is available.

Other residents worried about the small play park at the eastern end of the property, although the developer assured them it would not be dismantled.

Joe Zaccaria, the only neighbour who said he was in favor of the project, also spoke in support of adding more park space to the area.

“Is this the right time for this type of development?” said Clint Lee, a Willoughby resident and one of the organizers of the Live Langley municipal political slate.

A lack of space in nearby schools for new children was raised by a number of residents.

One issue raised by a number of homeowners is the rodent problem in the neighbourhood.

“Rats the size of possums,” said Cari Ross. “Scary as all get out.”

They said the rodents may be living in the large empty field to be developed, and eating garbage from the nearby Costco.

Neighbours worried construction will force the rats to find shelter – in their houses.

The owners and staff of Portrait Homes tried to calm some of the residents fears.

Rob Grimm, a principal of Portrait, said they have contributed $100,000 towards a park that is to be built on nearby 66th Avenue just to the west. The project will have more parking spaces than is required by the Township, and is adding some street calming and a crosswalk to 66th Avennue.

An engineer with Portrait said the company has experience with the local soil type, does not plan to do any piledriving, and shouldn’t damage any neighbouring homes.

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