The city of Delta has approved a proposal to bring 11 floating homes to the Deas Slough waterway.
"In the end, it came to how can we balance the needs and desires of the people who are using the slough for recreation, with the area's planned designation and the owner’s right to move forward with something on his property," Delta councillor Bruce McDonald said on CBC Radio’s The Early Edition on Wednesday.
The decision comes after more than 70 residents and rowers packed a public hearing last night to have their say.
Some argued against the homes, saying they would dramatically change how the public uses the channel.
Eric Velestuk, 14, started his rowing career in Deas Slough and said adding 11 float homes to the quiet waterway means he’ll have nowhere to row.
"It would be kind of like getting rid of a park and putting a bunch of houses on it," he said Tuesday. "It'd be great and those people could enjoy the community but then the community would really be losing something."
The slough at its widest point in high tide stretches 240 metres. With the float homes, that space would be narrowed to 70 metres.
But McDonald said the land where the float homes will be built has been privately owned for generations, and that the construction of the homes will not negatively impact those who use the slough for recreational purposes.
"It isn't something that we haven't done our homework on. By the same token, it appears some of the people, not all, but some of the people in the rowing club just feel that they have absolutely ownership of the slough and surrounding area and don’t believe that this is compatible at all."
McDonald said city council believes there is space for people to continue their activities on the water.
"Have a look at False Creek and the variation and the type of activity. There’s just about every kind of boat in the area. The recreational activity has been organized so that people know when there are able to do their activity, whether its wakeboarding or competitive water skiing."
Michael Owen, who owns a nearby marina, agreed – saying he hopes this type of development will bring affordable homes to the market.
"It's a huge river and we can all get along and they seem to be myopic in that regard," he said.
Ultimately, the developer must receive approval for the establishment of the water lots from Port Metro Vancouver.