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June 12 public hearing scheduled after Abbotsford council approves first and second reading
An updated McKee Neighbourhood Plan that includes 65 more acres (23 hectares) of land to be designated as open space received initial approval by Abbotsford council on Monday (April 24). Council approved the first and second readings of the bylaw – repeating a process that was initially done on Jan. 30 – that would see the Official Community Plan amended to include the neighbourhood plan. The matter is now scheduled to go to the public-hearing stage on June 12, after the previous hearing was nullified due to a clerical error.
Abbotsford council to review third and final reading of McKee Neighbourhood Plan bylaw on June 26 Staff report presented to council highlights allocation of open space for wildlife protection and trail network connectivity, as well as $75,000 for a McKee Trail Future Study.
The plan also includes new guidelines for land with a slope greater than 40% and improved measures for areas of archeological significance. In addition, the report documents 34 instances of communication between city staff and local First Nations – Leq’a:mel, Matsqui, Sumas and Sto:lo – regarding the plan, starting from 2017, which involved email, phone calls and meetings. According to the report, staff obtained Sto:lo heritage investigation permits for all archeological work carried out.
The staff report notes that the permit process ensured that local First Nations had the opportunity to review all proposed archeological and cultural heritage work within their traditional territory. It further explains that staff, alongside First Nations representatives, conducted all archeological field studies, which included walking the land and undertaking shovel testing.
Feedback Reviewed and Considered
Updates to the McKee Neighbourhood Plan resulted from feedback submitted by dozens of letter writers and around 50 speakers who voiced their opinions during a five-hour public hearing on March 6. Primary concerns included the plan’s environmental impact, communication with local First Nations, and the preservation of the trail network.
In response, council asked staff to review the feedback and evaluate if any updates or changes were necessary. The plan was originally scheduled for final approval on March 27 but was postponed due to a clerical error made during the first and second reading on Jan. 30. The error was discovered after the public hearing, resulting in the need for the entire process to be repeated.
According to the staff report, all feedback received from the previous public hearing will be included in the package that council will review.
The McKee Neighbourhood Plan, once approved, will be used by the council to determine allowable uses, building forms, and densities in a 1,900-acre area (769 hectares) of McKee Peak on Sumas Mountain.
Mayor Ross Siemens had previously clarified that the plan would direct future development, and currently, no development applications have been submitted for the area in question on McKee Peak.
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