Westbrooke at WIlloughby is returning with its third phase and construction is already underway. Beginning in 2018, this Foxridge Homes by Qualico development in the Township of Langley has sold out its previous two phases, and will contain at least eight phases before completion. Foxridge has experienced and overcome many challenges during this pre- and post-pandemic build, from product shortages to invasive plant species, all while creating a successful and popular development.
Livabl spoke with Steve Kim, the development coordinator for Qualico Communities and Nicolas Bell, the project manager for Foxridge Homes about Westbrooke at Willoughby and its progression.
This is a multi-year phased project with eight parts, and you’re currently on phase 3 – how has it been progressing?
Qualico started Westbrooke at Willoughby with phase 1 by securing the school and park site, and installed the required off-site servicing, which opened up development in the area. Since then, we’ve snowballed our scale to take advantage of the now-completed prerequisites and built on the success we’ve experienced in this neighbourhood. As such, we have eight phases but there may be more to come.
Of course, the project has not been without its challenges given every industry is at maximum capacity – from municipal staff to consultants and contractors. On top of that, the pandemic that forced us to adapt quickly to ever-changing conditions: Staff shortages, supply chain crises, volatile cost fluctuations and more.
The delays have meant our single-family builder, Foxridge, has not been able to keep up with the pent-up demand in the market. Sales have been strong and we’re working as hard as we can to keep adding new supply to the existing inventory.
You began this project in 2018, which means you’ve experienced construction in a pre- and post-pandemic world. What types of challenges have you faced and how were you able to overcome them?
A large project like our Westbrooke subdivision comes with challenges. Our primary focus was getting ready for the implementation of the BC Energy Step Code and ensuring we had a group of qualified trades and subcontractors on board that were prepared to work through this project with us.
Like most, March 2020 and the start of the pandemic shutdowns dramatically shifted our priorities. It forced us to re-evaluate construction processes, scheduling, and supply chain sources, all while also ensuring our employees, trade and subcontractors were provided with the accommodations and resources needed to ensure their safety under these new working conditions. Patience became a common theme throughout our sites, as we all worked hard to fulfill our commitments.
Though the restrictions have been relaxed recently, we’re still having to work through various delays related to product shortages, staffing, manufacturing delays and product cancellations.
However, due to the effort and dedication of our trades and employees we’ve been able to successfully complete 130 homes with 34 more currently under construction. We are very excited to be breaking ground on our new show home and to start construction on the next 88 homes in phase 3.
What lessons did you take away from the initial phases? Are there new strategies that you are implementing for upcoming phases because of this?
In the process of land development, there are various factors and variables that can impact the timing and success of a project. Some of these are related to project management, such as meticulously keeping track of our target milestones and responding quickly to delays in our critical path.
Other factors are related to the land itself — small things that can prove detrimental to a project timeline. For example, a wetland was discovered late into the approvals process for one of our phases, which required an entirely new site layout to accommodate the setbacks. Needless to say, we have become more diligent in assessing for wetlands in our future phases.
In another instance, we found Japanese knotweed on our site, which can grow through concrete foundations. Depending on the amount of knotweed, removal can be incredibly costly if it’s found too late and can take two years to completely eradicate. We have now implemented a knotweed remediation program and we perform assessments at due diligence.
How did the pocket park come together? What elements will it contain?
In the Yorkson Neighbourhood Plan, the Township of Langley envisioned a “pocket park,” which is an approximately one-acre open grassed area that is attached to a street greenway. It also calls for an “ecological greenway,” which Qualico has constructed between our phase 1 and phase 3.
Since the plan indicated a pocket park should be located near the Westbrooke project, Qualico helped secure and construct the park where the ecological greenway meets 206 Street, just south of our phase 2 homes.
The park will include a multi-use pathway, playground, and recreational space, as well as a wildlife corridor that tunnels underneath 206 Street. The park has great pedestrian access given it connects to the ecological greenway to the west, and an arterial road to the east.
What kind of buyer are you hoping to attract into this new phase?
From our previous two phases, it was evident that our Westbrooke project was attracting young families, which makes sense given it’s within walking distance to a brand-new elementary school, retail amenities at Willoughby Town Centre, and several green spaces such as the pocket park and ecological greenway.
The neighbourhood park, adjacent to the elementary school, is currently in construction. Moreover, the homes provide more indoor and outdoor space for growing families at a more reasonable price point in comparison to Vancouver.
To learn more about Westbrooke at Willoughby, visit foxridgehomesbc.com.