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Developing Delta: Marina Gardens moves forward
The final phase of Marina Garden Estates in Ladner was approved by Delta Council in July, but not before more than 70 speakers went before a public hearing to voice their concerns about density.
Over the past two decades the 87-hectare Marina Gardens has been built to include 619 housing units in Woodward's Landing, Chesapeake Landing, and South Point. There is also a golf course, elementary school, marina, and a restaurant.
The final phase, which was approved in the Official Community Plan in 1996, called for 609 stacked townhouses, a 220-room hotel, 100 single family homes, and a commercial village.
The home builder for Marina Gardens, Polygon Homes, revised the final plan to add 674 dwelling units in the form of townhouses and apartments. Although the new proposal exceeded the permitted density for the area by 65 units, technically the total number of dwelling units allowed for all Marina Garden Estates overall was actually reduced by 133 units.
Neil Chrystal, president and CEO of Polygon, said as a developer it's all about opening a dialogue with the community and trying to find a common ground.
"We made a series of compromises in our design to appease and work with the local community and try and make a plan that's better," he said.
Chrystal said the more passion people have for their community, the better the outcome in the end.
Polygon has completed six townhouse communities in Delta and will soon begin its seventh. Polygon has seen a demand from young people who want to stay in the community in which they grew up and are willing to live in higher density neighbourhoods with smaller lot sizes than their parents.
"We hope to meet that demand by providing a lot of housing options, both for first-time buyers and for move-up buyers, and for retirement buyers."
Chrystal said although the density was a big issue during the public hearing for Marina Gardens, Polygon Homes has built much higher density neighbourhoods in places like Richmond and Surrey.
"I think that's what makes this one so unique is that relative to what you'll find in other areas it is quite a low density housing option," he said.
Although Marina Gardens is the last high density development on the community planning books in South Delta, Chrystal is skeptical there won't be more in the future.
"As the population grows I think it's going to be up to every municipality to grow with the region."
Chrystal said because of the Agricultural Land Reserve there will likely be subdivisions and densification in existing neighbourhoods.
Chrystal doesn't single out Delta as being difficult for developers to do business either, adding most communities are resistant to change.
These days, people have higher expectations from developers. Home builders are expected to build parkland and sustainability features that pressures companies like Polygon to surpass the last neighbourhood they built.
"Everybody wants to be viewed as a responsible corporate citizen and we're very passionate about doing the best job possible," he said.