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Surrey eyes major density increase in Scott Road corridor

Number of dwellings in the area, estimated at 12,111, is anticipated to grow to as many as 51,000 under a new visioning study
Aerial view of Scott Road looking south. (Image: City of Surrey)

Surrey council endorsed an Imagine Scott Road Visioning Study on Monday, July 8 that provides a framework guiding long-term planning for the Scott Road-72 Avenue corridor. It's currently home to 41,120 residents but is expected to eventually boom by up to 289 per cent, to a population of 160,000.

Council gave second-reading approval and set an electronic public hearing for 7 p.m. Monday, July 22.

The number of dwellings in the area, estimated at 12,111, is anticipated to grow to as many as 51,000 under the plan, which covers an unspecified number of decades. The number of dwellings is expected to grow by up to 321 per cent over time and the number of jobs within the study area is expected to increase by up to 433 per cent, from an estimated 4,506 today to as many as 24,000.

"The Study Area is a long-term growth corridor," the Imagine Scott Road Visioning Study states. "Growth will be phased over many decades and the area will redevelop as market conditions and policies evolve over time."

The study, initiated in 2022, embraces 844 hectares (2,085 acres) and is 11.3 kilometres long, extending from Scott Road SkyTrain Station south to 72 Avenue and then east along 72 Avenue to Newton Town Centre. It takes in the area between Scott Road east to 124 Avenue, and several blocks north and south of 72 Avenue up to 134 Street.

Scott Road opened in 1875 and is named after Colonel J.T. Scott, a New Westminster resident and proprietor of the Pioneer Saloon in the royal city. He was contracted to build a wagon road linking Brown's Landing with Ladner Trunk Road, which was then known as Mud Bay Road. Someone else had to finish the job, but Scott got the glory. Today it's the busiest bus corridor south of the Fraser River and sees on average 35,000 vehicles travel on it each day. 

A corporate report that came before council on July 8 reveals that roughly 41 per cent of households within the study area are renters, and 43 per cent of households contain families with four or more people. Demographically of all residents in the study area, the 2021 census indicated 64 per cent are South Asian (compared to 33 per cent city wide), 20 per cent are Caucasian, four per cent are Filipino and three per cent are Black. Other ethnicities aren't accounted for in the report.

Of existing housing, most of it is single-family residences (38 per cent) and secondary suites (roughly 21 per cent). According to the study, the intention is to protect existing "purpose-built" rental stock as per the City of Surrey's Rental Housing Redevelopment Policy, to "encourage family-oriented housing in multi-family residential developments," and the "provide incentives and support for non-market housing development."

"It's time to get moving on this," Coun. Doug Elford said. "It's a very important integral part of the city.

"I know we have a lot of other priorities when it comes to planning in the city but it's important that we start to focus on this corridor."

Coun. Harry Bains noted it's a "significant increase in density" within a "very tight area."

Surrey's general manager of planning Don Luymes told council said the planning work will be "a year or two, and then the rezoning applications will come forward. 

"It doesn't happen all at once, it's incremental over time as individual land owners seek rezonings, that sort of thing," he said. "This will be incremental over decades."

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke asked Luymes what Delta is doing. He replied both cities have jointly commissioned market study. "Of course Delta will plan their land base and Surrey will plan its land base but we're in close collaboration and communication with Delta planners. I think it's fair to say Delta's a little bit ahead of Surrey in terms of attention on the Scott Road corridor. The North Delta area plan has already seen fruit with some towers that you'll see along Scott Road and 84th.

"And so for us," Luymes added, "I think it's a matter of catching up to some of the work that our colleagues in Delta have done but we'll certainly be collaborating very closely across the line." 




About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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