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South Surrey arts-towers proposal to be revamped

Architect Patrick Cotter speaks to residents during a public information meeting last year. - File
Architect Patrick Cotter speaks to residents during a public information meeting last year.
— image credit: File

A public hearing on a contentious residential towers/arts hub development in South Surrey has been put on hold, awaiting further amendments to the plan.

The public hearing, following OCP amendments given first and second readings in December, was originally expected on Jan. 13, then on several dates in February including, ultimately, Feb. 24.

But City of Surrey spokesperson Amanda Silvers said the public hearing has been delayed, pending submission of an amended plan by architect Patrick Cotter, on behalf of proponents the Reifel Cooke Group and the Surrey City Development Corporation.

Silvers noted there had been two public information meetings on the project, in October and December.

“They (the proponents) received quite a bit of feedback. They’re taking it away and considering it, and will be coming back to the city with an amended proposal,” she said.

Silvers said the decision, while not returning the proposal to square one, would mean that the project would be resubmitted to the city’s advisory design committee before any public hearing would be scheduled.

As well as upwards of 300 residential units, the two-tower proposal, for 152 Street at 19 Avenue, includes the shell of a 350-seat performing arts centre and a contemporary arts centre café/gallery, which has drawn conditional support from local arts advocates.

Proponents of the project say it is intended to be one of a few “landmark” developments allowed additional height in exchange for supporting cultural goals, in keeping with the city’s Semiahmoo Town Centre plan.

But opponents – including the Semiahmoo Residents Association and a recently formed group, Semiahmoo Against Towers – have objected to the height of the project.

The height of the highest tower was originally to be the equivalent of 30 storeys above ground level, and then, in an adjusted plan taken to the public in December, the equivalent of 27 storeys.

That was still too high for opponents, whose concerns include traffic, access, parking and the precedent for other highrises in the area, should OCP amendments go ahead.

At a community meeting organized by opponents Jan. 20 at White Rock Christian Academy, Kristen Smith of Semiahmoo Against Towers told a crowd of about 50 people that concerns also include the pressure such a development would place on area schools and Peace Arch Hospital, the impact shadows would have on property values and quality of life in the neighbourhood, and the potential of such urbanization in attracting crime.

 

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