City of Surrey’s plan for the Semiahmoo area, which has not yet been endorsed by council. (City of Surrey image)

New ‘downtown’ plan for South Surrey near its final form

Plan sets framework for highrise development north of 16 Avenue

City of Surrey’s framework, designed to guide the transformation of the Semiahmoo Shopping Centre neighbourhood into a central urban area – including ample space for highrises up to 24-storeys – is nearly complete.

During an information open house held Tuesday evening and attended by about 250 people, the plan, which is not yet finalized, gave residents a glimpse of what the neighbourhood could look like by 2050.

The plan outlines information on building heights, transportation solutions and park space.

City of Surrey community planning manager Patrick Klassen told Peace Arch News this week that the land-use plan couples with White Rock’s official community plan for that city’s Town Centre area.

If Surrey’s plan were to be finalized by council this winter, White Rock and South Surrey residents could eventually see the re-development of a new “downtown,” which crosses municipal borders.

Surrey’s plan will allow tower heights on the mall property up to 24-storeys north of 16 Avenue to 18 Avenue, and on both sides of 152 Street. Tower height limits drop to 12-storeys on the perimeter and fall to four-six storeys thereafter. The plan also features space for three-storey townhouse development and low-density residential (2.5 storeys).

Surrey’s framework also includes a stretch of 12-storey buildings on 16 Avenue across the street from the Peace Arch Hospital.

South of North Bluff Road (16 Avenue) and along Johnston Road (152 Street), White Rock is allowing 25-storey towers which then drop to 18 storeys east and west. Southbound heights drop to 16 storeys by Thrift Avenue and continue to diminish farther away from the Town Centre core (Johnston and North Bluff).

The creation of the shared urban centre is supported by Metro Vancouver through the regional growth strategy. The urban centre is one of several planned throughout the Lower Mainland.

The goal is density, which is highlighted on an online survey for Surrey’s plan.

“In 2050, there will be many more people living in Semiahmoo. We challenged you to consider how to make room for a generation of young families while providing options for existing residents to age-in-place over the next 30 years,” the survey states.

Another intent, according to the city, is to “maximize the benefits of compact sustainable development and minimize the development of natural areas.”

Transportation

Outside of the Semiahmoo urban centre plan, the city outlines two projects that could address transportation concerns.

The unrelated projects include 24 Avenue arterial road widening and an interchange at Highway 99; and 20 Avenue collector road widening and a Highway 99 overpass.

Inside the urban centre plan, the city has outlined space for a number of alternate routes, including connecting dead-end roads, adding mid-block connections and considering additional traffic signals.

A map of the current plan outlines about a dozen new roads.

The plan also shows a conceptual rapid bus line and bus stop at 20 Avenue and 152 Street.

Parks

Prior to Tuesday’s public information meeting, a resident who lives near the centre of the redevelopment plan contacted PAN, taking issue with the space allocated for public parks.

“All of that development and you’re going to give people two tiny weenie parks,” Adrian MacNair wrote to PAN.

The plan outlines space for a small, narrow park along the east side of Martin Street, which extends north of Southmere Crescent by about 130 metres.

A second park is outlined east of 156 Street to 156 A Street and north from 16A Avenue to 17 Avenue.

The park near Southmere Crescent, which could serve as a landing area for Semiahmoo Trail, may be built sooner rather than later.

“It could be that in the not-too-distant future… like within the next 10 years, that we could actually get that park delivered as part of this phase one,” Klassen said.

Timelines

A key component of the redevelopment relies on First Capital, which owns the Semiahmoo Mall. The mall is the heart of the redevelopment plan.

“The mall envisions full redevelopment long-term. They invested money into it now,” Klassen said, adding that several other malls First Capital owns are transitioning away from the box-store style.

“They’re all following the same formula, which is to basically turn these malls inside out and create streets,” Klassen said.

In fact, First Capital has already submitted a rezoning application to rezone the northern portion of its property, which is “completely consistent with the plan.”

“The idea is to transform it from a suburban mall, which really is what it is now with all of the car parking, into a much more kind of vibrant town centre. So we’re going to do that by breaking up the mall with roads. Obviously, this is contingent entirely upon the mall voluntarily redeveloping, which they are,” Klassen said.

Surrey hosted a number of resident workshops and open houses, as well as two surveys in order to draft the plan.

Although mostly complete, Klassen said city planners are still collecting feedback and are open to make adjustments.

To complete the survey, or learn more about the plan, visit https://www.surrey.ca/city-services/1344.aspx

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