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San Group unveils $1.1-billion housing plan for Port Alberni

Master planned community includes environmentally sensitive area

San Group have announced plans to build a billion-dollar housing development in Port Alberni.

Called Pacific Mayfair Estates, the master planned community is proposed for an area at the top of Burde Street, in an undeveloped area that stretches from Burde to behind West Coast General Hospital. The area is popular with walkers and mountain bikers, and comprises a portion of the Log Train Trail.

Company co-owner Kamal Sanghera said the 75-acre proposed development is “San Group’s biggest project ever.”

“It will take five to eight years,” he said Thursday (Aug. 26). “The cost of completion will be anywhere from $900 million to $1.1 billion dollars. You will not see a development like this anywhere in British Columbia.”

He called on municipal government officials and federal government candidates in the room for their help. “It’s going to be a very sensitive issue, and we want to make sure we show everybody San Group is here, we are here to stay.”

He said the company is committed to providing “green development” to an environmentally sensitive area, to “make it more livable.”

The company unveiled concept drawings of what they hope the estates will look like, adding that the development has a mix of low, medium and high density housing. If approved, the development would have a mix of affordable housing, single-family dwellings, townhouses and apartments, Sanghera said.

He said construction components would be made in Port Alberni as much as possible, and building would be sustainable, with systems “that will work with Mother Nature.” He expects the development will provide 4,000 to 5,000 construction jobs over the duration of the build.

Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions called the proposed development “an exciting investment in our community.

“While the city does serve formally as regulator on this, so we do have to remain unbiased, I want to speak to what an investment like this really signals about our community…all the talk is about Port Alberni these days, it seems. The San Group’s continued investment in our community is a huge piece of that. We are so thrilled to see such confidence come to our market and our community from the San Group and from other developers in the area.”

“I’m excited to see a vision that recognizes community value as well.”

Wahmeesh Ken Watts, Chief councillor for Tseshaht First Nation, wished San Group well. He said this was the first time he had been invited to a major announcement by a developer and that it bodes well for a good working relationship between the company and the nation.

“The vision is the ultimate sustainable community,” said Mike Ruttan, former mayor of Port Alberni and MC for the announcement, which was livestreamed. Ruttan said this development would eclipse what District Group has accomplished in 20 acres of the former Alberni District Secondary School site, at Burde Street and 12th Avenue. Construction is ongoing in that area, which two apartment buildings already complete and residential homes under construction.

A portion of land has just been sold to accommodate a seniors’ housing facility close to the apartment buildings.

San Group representatives submitted an application for rezoning and a change to the Official Community Plan (OCP) at 9 a.m. Thursday. A public process into the development will commence once the planning department and advisory planning committee have had a chance to go over the submission.

Ruttan said an environmental study of the site has been produced by fisheries biologist Dave Clough and partner Brad Remillard. Aside from the beaver ponds and surrounding wetland, there is a creek that used to bear salmon heading up Rogers Creek to spawn.

A Pacific Mayfair Estates brochure states a traffic study was developed, a geotechnical site assessment will be conducted and an evaluation of the project’s impact on city infrastructure “is underway.”

San Group has engaged a consultant, Mike Butler, to conduct community consultation on Pacific Mayfair Estates. Butler said he worked on redevelopment of the Edmonton Coliseum site in Alberta, which took a year and a half.

Butler has a background in home construction and politics. He ran for mayor of Edmonton in 2017 and has dabbled in provincial and federal politics for both the NDP and Liberal parties. He has served as a government communications advisor in various roles.

Kamal Sanghera said in a later interview that San Group has a number of other housing projects in development in the Lower Mainland, where their company is headquartered. He said there are no other investors in this project.

“Most of the investment is from our own development company…no investment outside the family.”

While he said housing will be accessible to everyone, and San Group employees will not be prioritized, Sanghera said he would like to build his own home there.

He and Suki also made a promise to build a seniors’ housing unit within Pacific Mayfair Estates for seniors who cannot afford to pay for their own assisted living.

“We promised our father that.”

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Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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