***UPDATED IN COMMENTS BELOW POST-FULL REPORT ON LAST NIGHTS MEETING*
On the heels of more headlines on how bad the impact is in overcrowded schools last week (playground time is rationed out for young children in some schools), a community meeting hosted by a developer tonight in the Sullivan area of South Newton promises to be contentious.
The 15 acre property in question, located at 5750 Panorama Drive was sold by the government as a ‘surplus’ property to help them balance their budget. Zoned and intended for institutional use originally, it was held for future healthcare expansion in the growing south Newton/ South Surrey area. At the time it went up for sale, I blogged about it and called into question the shortsighted nature of the sale because of the unchecked growth in the area and the need for new schools. https://lailayuile.com/2014/01/03/bc-liberal-property-fire-sale-begins-in-surrey/
Seeing the complete lack of thought on both the provinces part for selling this property,I sent emails to all of city council at that time, asking for their comment on the sale,hoping the city would advocate for it to be held for future healthcare or school facilities:
“I asked for comment from the mayor and several councillors who were available.
The only person to respond was Marvin Hunt, who did not resign from city council when he won the riding of Surrey Panorama, which is where this property is located. He said it was bought for medical use… and the city built Jimmy Pattison instead, inferring it wasn’t needed.
Now, I told him he was in conflict on this issue since he both represents the riding for the BC Liberals, who are selling this property…. and he remains representing the needs of all Surrey residents as a councillor.
Whose interests is he representing? Is the sale of this property in the best interests of Surrey residents, in particular in a high growth, high density neighbourhood with already overcrowded facilities? Or is it in the best interests of the BC Liberals to sell the property?
I asked him if he thought it should be kept for a future school or other, and he said that wasn’t a city decision but a school board decision. True, but the city must have an opinion on what is the best use of this land in the neighbourhood community plan.
This is why holding two roles leads to conflict. There is absolutely no assurance that Marvin Hunt will take into consideration his constituents in the Sullivan/Panorama area when it is his Liberal government selling the land.
Very disappointed to see no councillor take a stance on the sale of this property,other than the one that sits in conflict on this issue.”
So again, even back then you can see how the city and the province just point fingers back and forth as to who is responsible for ensuring the communities needs for critical infrastructure is met.
South Newton is now in a crisis point when it comes to school overcrowding, for two reasons. There has been no effort to slow down or reduce the density in any new development,nor has the cumulative impact of repeated amendments to the Neighbourhood Concept Plan been considered. Applications are rubberstamped as residents pleas go ignored. And then the city points to the province as the bad guy when in fact they are creating their own problems by ignoring their own plans.
Which leads me back to this development and tonight’s meeting.
Parents in South Newton consider this massive development to be the last straw. This property is the last big tract of land that could be used for a large school or healthcare. This notice was distributed to the Parents Advisory Councils and parents in the area catchments:
South Newton Community Braces for Large Development
Where Will Our Children Go To School?
Developer, Redekop, will unveil a development plan of 181 townhouses, 106 rental apartment units, plus commercial
space to the South Newton Community on May 9th. This property has been a contentious conversation since the Liberal government sold it off in 2014 to Fairborne and Fairborne sold to Redekop. This parcel of land was originally earmarked as institutional land in the Neighbourhood Concept Plan, thereby not being accounted for when it comes to infrastructures, especially schools.
The catchment school for this development is Sullivan Elementary.
Further, the townhouses will not have parking pads which means people will be forced to park in their garages or use the street for parking.
In light of Laurae McNally’s recent motion unanimously voted through by the Surrey School District Trustees, and the complete disregard of this motion by the Mayor, we ask residents to apply pressure to the City and Province while we wait for Capital Funding by coming and having a voice. We have engaged media and have confirmed at least one source of media in attendance.
The most effective way to get development changed or stopped is to show up:
DATE: May 9, 2016
LOCATION: Tong Louie YMCA
Current capacities for elementary schools:
Sullivan Elementary: 134%
Cambridge Elementary: 117%
Goldstone Park: 93% (but this will be at capacity, if not over, 2016/2017)
Ecole Woodard Hill: 127%
About The South Newton Community: The South Newton Community is a group comprised of parents concerned for the education of the commmunity’s children
I would hope that MLA Marvin Hunt, who did not speak against the sale of this property and did not think it was a city council issue when I asked him, would attend and speak to concerned residents. I would hope that city council members would attend as well, although I am not holding my breathe since they don’t feel they are accountable for the growth in the area at all.
The developer? I think he is going to have his hands full. And I suspect he’ll be pointing fingers to both the city and the province when the hard questions start. Just once, I would like to see all three parties think of what makes a livable community,instead of what lines their pockets.
Local parent group is ramping up the pressure with the addition of this lawn sign you can purchase to show your support to process and planning at every level of government on this issue.