Letters to the Editor

LETTERS: South Surrey feeling singled out

The City of Surrey has its sights on the Semiahmoo Town Centre (reimagined looking southbound on 152 Street). - City of Surrey graphic
The City of Surrey has its sights on the Semiahmoo Town Centre (reimagined looking southbound on 152 Street).
— image credit: City of Surrey graphic

Editor:

Next Monday, at the public hearing for the new official community plan (OCP), Semiahmoo residents will at last have an opportunity to comment on the Semiahmoo Town Centre plan (STCP).

The plan was accepted by council in September 2006 and amended in May 2012. There were no public hearings before the plan was published. The city’s system does not allow them.

The STCP opened the way for high-density development on the site of the Semiahmoo Shopping Centre and a corridor along 152 Street up to 19 Avenue. The new OCP extends the corridor north past 24 Avenue and permits higher densities from 152 to 156 streets.

Although the main developer, Bosa Development walked away from their proposal in 2010 after selling the shopping centre, the STCP remains in effect. It allows for up to 3,000 housing units on the sites identified.

The recent amendment to the plan could increase the allowed density on the 152 Street corridor by 60 per cent. As these sites represent roughly 50 per cent of the plan, it is possible that another 900 units could be built.

Even without the dramatic increase allowed by the plan, South Surrey has grown faster than the city’s average rate over the past 10 years – not as fast as Cloverdale but more than twice as fast as Whalley and Guildford, with their good transit system.

This raises the obvious question. Is Semiahmoo being singled out to provide more than its share of Surrey’s growth required by Metro Vancouver? And if so, why?

The Semiahmoo Residents Association’s main objection has always been the shortage of infrastructure to support such an increase in population. Where are the roads? Where is the transit system?

Can the city continue to ignore certain problems as being out of their jurisdiction, such as the bottleneck of White Rock and insufficient medical facilities?

Surrey repeatedly talks of the need to revitalize the area and the need for new businesses. Can there be anything more ironic, when councils have consistently approved new commercial areas to the obvious detriment of the town centre? First Peninsula Village, then Southpoint and now to Grandview.

We used to walk; we now drive. If we have thousands of new residents, they will be doing the same. This seems the opposite of good planning. How well does this fit in with the objectives of Surrey’s Sustainability Charter?

The March 10 public hearing – 7 p.m. at the old city hall, 14245 56 Ave. – gives you a unique opportunity to comment on what Surrey is doing, as this may be your only chance to speak out on your community.

David Cann, Semiahmoo Residents Association

 

 

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