Two conflicting elements emerged at a public hearing at Township council on Monday evening.
One focused on the changes a large, busy church would bring to a quiet, rural street, and the other drew a contrast between the disruption to the lives of locals and the lives that have been changed, and even saved, by the church.
The Seventh Day Adventist Church has applied to rezone 4.7 acres at 23589 Old Yale Rd., from Rural to Institutional, so that it can build a 59,630 square foot church for 900 worshippers.
The church plans to provide 325 parking stalls and build sports courts, a games area and auditorium.
Key to its plan is an area from which it will administer its Acts of Kindness program which has changed the lives of countless local residents. AOK volunteers renovate homes, provide free oil changes for single parents and serve hot breakfasts for children at Shortreed Elementary in Aldergrove.
For surrounding residents, concerns are mounting. Karl Unger, who lives west of the property, told council of his concern that paving a large area of the church land would result in pooling and, because the area has a clay base, “the water will go down into my yard.”
He noted that Old Yale Road is a very old street, narrow and full of potholes. There is no shoulder.
“I don’t know how this road is going to support more traffic,” he said.
The church stretches from Old Yale to Fraser Highway, where access and egress would be restricted to right turns in and out.
The supply of water, which residents draw from wells, is another concern.
“Everyone has had to re-drill their wells because there isn’t enough water,” said Lisa Grover.
Indirectly, the Township has benefited from the church’s AOK program, Aldergrove resident Walter Grochowski told council.
In 2007, Grochowski’s young son died, and last year AOK volunteers repaired his house “and gave my family a new beginning,” he said.
“I was able to pay off four years of back taxes that I would never have been able to pay off.”
Church member Keith Tall told council: “Sometimes we have to look beyond our own interests for others’ needs.
“The objective (of AOK) is not to win converts … it’s done because it’s the right thing to do.”
For Karen Weeks, AOK was a lifesaver. The church repaired her home from top to bottom, getting rid of mould that was killing her asthmatic daughter. Frequent hospitalization has ended since the house was repaired, she said.
Her daughter can now freely sing and dance, and is helping renovate other houses through AOK.
Pastor David Jameson explained how AOK began: “We felt the church needs to be involved in extreme generosity.”
Ulla Vicktor of Site Line Architects advised council of the diverse land uses in the area. These include light manufacturing plants, auto and RV sales, and the Hilltop Café.
Council will likely consider third reading of the rezoning bylaw at its June 11 meeting.