City staff have now completed the corporate report Surrey council asked for following the recent public hearing of the Official Community plan (referred to as the OCP) , and are recommending that council grant third reading. http://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/CR_2014-R048.pdf
While city staff acknowledged merit to many of the speakers comments and suggestions at the public hearing, regarding concerns on many aspects of the draft OCP, no significant changes have been suggested or made. This is likely to result in growing discontent in many communities represented by community associations and groups at the public hearing, as breakneck development continues to outpace school capacity, parking, street upgrades and amenities.
None of the community associations, groups and just regular residents are opposed to progress. Change is born of progress. However, one common thread being voiced by every group is that development needs to slow down in some areas, or the unintended consequences mentioned above prevent communities from being able to flourish as they should. Residents become stressed, overwhelmed and angry as they deal with impact of poor planning decisions made in recent years.
While the city has committed to focus on a few town centres in the coming years,it is this disconnected approach to rejuvenating one area at a time,that has contributed to many town centres issues. It just makes sense to develop a cohesive strategy where small but consistent changes and efforts are made in rejuvenating all the town centres at the same time, to avoid what has happened in Surrey time and time again. Communities shouldn’t have to wait years for ‘their turn’.
In response to a call from a resident in South Surrey last week who was alarmed to find some clear cutting having been completed along with new development application signs going up in a completely rural location, I took a drive out to the area to see exactly what they were talking about.
The first set of photos were taken off 168th st, just south of 24th avenue, between about 21st and 22nd ave. They show a new development site of estate homes which was nearly completely clearcut, with the exception of a few large trees along the back of the site. Hover your mouse over the photo to start the slide show.
Further down the street is another very large acreage which has yet to be fully cleared and appears to be in the process of having trees chosen for retention.
The properties in question are currently undergoing a development proposal, with an OCP amendment from suburban to urban, and a NCP amendment to redesignate the site from a school site to medium density residential!!!
One site is proposed to have min. 39 townhomes, the other min. 19 single small lot homes. In the middle of what is more rural and farmland than suburban in the first place. A farm with pasture sides the property, currently accessible by a single lane road.
What is most striking is the juxtaposition of having a min. 39 townhomes, and 19 small lots homes, plunked down in the middle of rural area, with a single lane for access.
Yes, if you build it, they will come… and in the next set of photos you see the massive clearcut that occurred recently along Hwy 10, just east of King George. I also discovered another large cut of trees on a lot just off King George right below it as well, that’s quite new.
I don’t know how where any of the children and youth who will eventually move into these particular developments will go to school, because despite having a new school in the Sullivan Heights area, all the schools are still far over capacity. Yet even in the following proposal, the city is likely to ok the increase in townhomes- it happens all the time. http://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/PLR_7912-0155-00.pdf
Last, but certainly not least, a look at the now more than half empty strip mall where the Newton Bingo Hall is located. After having written extensively about this bingo hall and slots for years, I was ecstatic to hear BCLC was pulling the slots, but immediately wondered what the impact would be on the proposed redevelopment of the site, which had to be done in order to keep the slots.
Sure enough, Gateway wouldn’t commit to continuing the redevelopment, despite having given notice to several businesses in the mall -there are only a couple that now remain. It would be incredibly tragic and would very visibly demonstrate Gateway as a bad community neighbour, in particular because of businesses having left so this redevelopment could occur.
The following photos show the current state of the strip mall housing the Newton Bingo Hall, one portion of the mall has already been demolished and another fenced off. The last photo is of one of the working girls who regularly work along the street right behind the mall.
While the still controversial build outs of the Grandview Heights NCP Area 4 begin,the rest of Surrey is left wondering how sustainable this is, when we aren’t keeping pace with policing and other vital infrastructure. While these photos tell the story of the impact of just three developments, there are hundreds of other clear cuts that have occurred just like this all over south Newton and south Surrey. It would be telling to see a comparison of the city from an aerial view, taken 5 years ago to now. Vast tracts of forest are being cut constantly.
As the community of Newton and others continue to struggle on a daily basis with serious issues and growing pains that have no end in site, council will again be faced with making a decision at Monday night meeting that voters are not likely to forget by the municipal election in November.
You can find the schedule for Mondays full council and committee meetings at this link, and it will be the first meeting in the new city hall. Pay parking only in the parkade, unfortunately,