With a new bridge, Delta could be the next prime real-estate location, says an industry analyst.
Don Campbell sees demand for property rising south of the Fraser River following Premier Christy Clark’s September 20 announcement of a span replacing the George Massey Tunnel.
Campbell is a founding partner of the Real Estate Investment Network, a Langley-based company that provides information to buyers.
“It’s a very good thing for people who want to live in a little bit of a smaller community,” Campbell told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
The proposed crossing, up for construction starting in 2017, is the province’s answer to traffic congestion at the tunnel site.
It will also open Delta in about the same way that the Golden Ears, Pitt River, and twinned Port Mann bridges did for Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
In a report last June, Campbell’s company listed Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows together as the second-best towns in B.C. in which to invest in real estate because of better access provided by the bridges; Surrey was ranked number one.
Campbell and his coauthors noted that the Golden Ears and new Port Mann bridges “brought the one-time sleepy Fraser Valley farming communities closer to Vancouver”. The Pitt River Bridge also helps in the commute.
According to the authors, from January to May 2013, the value of building-permit applications in Maple Ridge rose to almost
$38 million, or more than 13 percent compared to the same period in 2012.
Pitt Meadows saw a 67-percent increase in building-permit values in 2012: the numbers climbed to more than $20 million from
$12 million in 2011.
“The one thing we knew about Maple Ridge is that it was very undervalued because it was very difficult to get to,” Campbell told the Straight.
For Delta resident Richard Kunz, the bridge means two things: urban sprawl and the loss of farmlands.
“You invite more developers to develop more land for industrial and commercial use and residential,” Kunz told the Straight in a phone interview, “and that means more cars, more vehicles.” Kunz is an organizer with Southlands the Facts, a community group fighting to preserve a 217-hectare piece of land previously known as the Spetifore farm.
Last summer, Delta council voted to allow public hearings starting in October this year on a plan to develop the property. Century Industries Ltd. wants to build 950 homes on a portion.
Kunz argued that a bridge will only give Delta residents the “illusion that there will be better commuting capability”.
“I’m not aware of any major road infrastructure project that has ever accomplished its goal of reducing congestion,” Kunz added.
Delta realtor Dean Bauck’s credentials include a diploma in urban land economics. Because of his interest in urban planning, he’s a little disappointed about the decision to build only one bridge.
Bauck explained that this measure will just pour more traffic toward Vancouver’s Oak Street Bridge.
He said he would have preferred dispersing the stream. This would involve twinning the Alex Fraser Bridge and building two new bridges connecting Richmond to Vancouver. One of these would go to Boundary Road, a thoroughfare shared by Vancouver and Burnaby; the other would connect to Main Street in Vancouver.
According to Bauck, shorter commute times translate to savings in gas, time, and opportunity costs. As a result, potential buyers will be prepared to pay more for houses in Delta.
“The classic theory says increased accessibility should have an upward pressure on prices,” Bauck told the Straight by phone.
Two major residential developments are currently under way in Delta.
One is a 2,200-unit project by Aquilini Development and Construction Inc. on Tsawwassen First Nations land. It sits adjacent to Tsawwassen Commons and Tsawwassen Mills, soon to become the biggest shopping destination in B.C.
The other development involves 490 homes on a new golf course, to be built by Shato Holdings and Talisman Homes.