Amendments to facilitate construction of two six-storey apartment buildings and a four-storey stacked townhouse building on property west of Earl Marriott Secondary in South Surrey received third reading at Surrey council April 12, following a public hearing in which the majority of speakers voiced support.
Waterstock Properties had sought an amendment to the city’s Official Community Plan to re-designate the site – seven lots near 157 Street and 16 Avenue – from urban to multiple residential, as well as rezoning to comprehensive development.
At Monday’s public hearing, proponents lauded the project’s “inspirational” design, the housing it would create for people who currently work locally but live outside of the community due to a lack of affordable housing, and that its construction was critical to expansion of TransLink’s rapid-bus line to the area.
“Everybody always complains about the traffic, but what about, if this project is not supported, the new TransLink rapid-bus plan will not go ahead,” Amanda Milford told council.
Speakers who expressed concern cited the impact to traffic volumes; that public services, including the hiring of police and firefighters, is not keeping pace with development; and, the loss of 54 mature trees.
“The sparseness of the trees and vegetation areas, as you drive around particularly the southern part of Surrey lately, is just overwhelming,” Deb Jack of Surrey Environmental Partners, said. “We must re-evaluate how it is we are going about making our decisions with regard to development.”
The Waterstock project would add 114 residential units to the property, an area described as being adjacent to a proposed ‘Medical District.’
Coun. Steven Pettigrew was among three councillors to express opposition, stating the project would set a precedent for density in the area.
Coun. Jack Hundial called for a “more tempered approach” to development, sharing concerns he heard from area residents that the project is “sort of an encroachment” that would only open the door to more of the same.
Noting a point made that White Rock city council had recently approved two six-storey buildings just across the street, Hundial said the issues are separate.
“White Rock can do what White Rock residents choose to do. For the residents here in Surrey… I do support pushing back on this one. I don’t feel it’s in the best interests of the residents there to support this application as it is.”
Speaking in favour of the project, Coun. Allison Patton noted residents describing the area’s current state to her “have used some terms I don’t really want to mention.”
Coun. Laurie Guerra said she heard more concerns about the vacant lots and general messiness of the area than about density.
Mayor Doug McCallum agreed the neighbourhood “does look as a disaster area right now,” with demolished houses and “leftover bricks and stones all over the place.”
But he said the surrounding density “pretty well is the type of density that is needed.”
“That area is in line to be re-done, re-densified to a certain degree,” McCallum said. “It’s not heavy density, we’re not looking at high-rise towers and so forth.
“I think it’s really important that we move ahead in this area.”
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