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Surrey council approves Panorama project after lengthy public hearing

Detention ponds, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said, are ‘never referred to’ as parkland
Therese Preece was among 22 speakers who told council what they think of a development proposal in Panorama during a public hearing Nov. 8. (Screen shot)

A relatively small development proposal in Panorama has proven to be a big deal for area residents who argue it will diminish green space in their neighbourhood.

Council gave third-reading approval Monday to a rezoning application to develop a single-storey, multi-unit commercial centre at 13174 and 13190 - 64 Ave., 6362 and 6370- 131A St. and 6365 - 132 St., after hearing from 22 speakers at a public hearing who voiced both support and opposition. This is to accommodate the redevelopment of the Fruiticana and Pizza 64 complex there.

Councillors Brenda Locke and Steven Pettigrew voted against it.

Opponents are concerned about losing greenspace in the form of a detention pond there.

“I do not agree with the process of reducing or removing these drainage hubs throughout the city,” Pettigrew said. “I believe they serve a vital service that cannot be duplicated.”

Locke said she’s concerned about traffic problems there. “I also am fundamentally opposed to us selling any city lands at all, ever.”

READ ALSO: Panorama residents rail against application to develop on greenspace

Mayor Doug McCallum, who voted in support, said he’s driven by the site “many, many times” and “always sort of noticed it that it actually needed to be cleaned up a little bit.”

Detention ponds, he said, are “never referred to” as parkland. “Those were there for irrigation and for water in the development process.”

“The very nature of them is very hard to turn into a park,” McCallum said, given their small size. “It just becomes a collection point for kids throwing garbage and so forth.”

During the public hearing, resident Paul Lylyk expressed safety concerns related to increased traffic and the potential for a pub to be built on site.

“With seven schools within a one-kilometre radius of this proposed site, this should be considered a safety issue,” he said. Resident Linda Holbeche said it’s “imperative” council doesn’t allow the developer to cut 34 “tall mature” trees and pave and develop the detention pond.

“In recent years our neighbourhood has gradually lost so many of our tall and mature trees and precious green space when our single family homes are being replaced with significantly larger homes, resulting in less front, back and side green spaces,” she told council.

READ ALSO: Safe Surrey Coalition defeats two Brenda Locke motions

Resident Shivi Sood told council the “impact of the commercial area needs to be revamped.”

Concerning the detention pond, he said, “We need to remove that waste of space because I’ve only seen it as dumping ground or an area where people are just loafering or using it for an illicit activity,” he said. “I feel that the market for coffee shops or a restaurant or whatever other it may bring is ideal for people like myself who are within walking distance. We can go, we can come, we can have a clear meeting area than what we have right now.”

Council received 27 letters in support, six in opposition, and four expressing concerns.

“We also had a number of people who signed up not wishing to speak but wanting to express support,” said Jennifer Ficocelli, Surrey’s city clerk. “Five people wanting to express support and 12 people wanting to express their opposition to this proposal.”

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Tom Zytaruk

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

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