Delta approves 37-storey residential tower as Metro Vancouver councils aim to increase urban density

Tower power on the rise as municipal governments struggle to diversify housing mix

Marshall Mountain Homes plans to build this 37-storey tower on 80th Avenue near Scott Road in Delta

It's increasingly a tale of tall towers for Metro Vancouver municipalities struggling with major demographic changes.

Delta council's December vote to approve Marshall Mountain Homes Ltd.'s proposal to build a 37-storey tower in North Delta makes it the latest municipal government in the region to approve increasingly tall towers as a way to make housing more affordable and give residents a way to downsize as they ease into retirement.

Delta mayor Lois Jackson told Business in Vancouver that her region's tallest buildings are three 14-storey residential towers. The planned 37-storey structure will be across 80th Avenue from two of those 1980s-era towers, near Scott Road.

"Public reaction was muted," Jackson said. "We had a very large paper with a lot of signatures submitted by a senior citizens' group saying that [condominiums are] needed. Some people said that their friends have moved into other parts of the Lower Mainland because we have few options in North Delta for anything but single family homes."

Historically, public opposition to tall towers in Delta has been stronger.

Proponents last year shelved their proposal to redevelop the North Delta Inn and build an 18-storey tower adjacent to the Scottsdale Centre following public complaints that the project would increase traffic congestion.

Jackson said new traffic lights and engineering changes to roads will help manage any added traffic congestion from North Delta's future mega-tower.

But Delta is not the only municipal government dealing with the politically prickly issue of how to increase density and broaden its mix of housing.

Vancouver city council last year listened to 139 speakers over six nights of public hearings before approving Rize Alliance's proposal to build a 19-storey, 241-home tower near Kingsway and Broadway.

Councillors then riled anti-tower activists further by approving a rezoning application for a 22-storey rental building on Comox Street in the West End following a two-year process.

Surrey city council, in contrast, has been more united and entrepreneurial on the concept of taller towers. The City of Surrey-owned Surrey City Development Corp. has a $13 million stake in Century Group Inc.'s planned $100 million, 50-storey residential tower in the Surrey City Centre neighbourhood. •

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