Surrey council has sent a Newton townhouse application back to staff over school crowding concerns, roughly a month after doing the same with two major Clayton projects.
During a Jan. 30 meeting, council voted 5-4 to refer the Newton proposal back to city staff to “ensure that the project is completed concurrently with the completion of the new local elementary school.”
If built, the project would see 20 three-bedroom townhomes constructed at 5964 142nd Street. The applicant needs council’s blessing for a development permit.
Councillor Steven Pettigrew tabled the referral motion on Jan. 30, noting the nearby Woodward Hill Elementary is at 180 per cent capacity, while Sullivan Heights Secondary is at 150.
Staff told council this development was projected to result in eight new students at local schools, five at Woodward Hill and three at Sullivan Heights.
Pettigrew’s motion asked staff to “have this match up so that the completion of this project matches up with the completion of a school in this catchment so we don’t stress the schools out.”
“We’ve very much concerned, as is the public, about infrastructure for our schools and our communities,” said Pettigrew.
Councillor Jack Hundial echoed the school crowding concerns.
The motion passed 5-4, with councillors Pettigrew, Hundial, Mandeep Nagra, Brenda Locke, and Doug Elford in favour.
This application was previously considered at a 2017 public hearing, where it was granted third reading by the former Surrey First council. At that time, the developer proposed to build 18 townhomes, but has since increased the project to 20 units and thus, the application process was started over.
This decision comes roughly one month after two major townhouse projects in the Clayton area were sent back to staff, due to the same concerns.
Those two projects, if approved, would be built just over a kilometre away from the new Salish Secondary school. Developers propose to build 96 townhouses and 71 apartment units at 18855 and 18805 72 Avenue. In a separate application north of that development, 166 townhouses are proposed for three lots at 18738, 18726 and 18702 74 Avenue, 850 metres from the school.
In all, that pair of applications would mean 333 housing units constructed in the area.
“We’re seeing a bit of a pattern here now,” said Councillor Steven Pettigrew of the two applications during the Dec. 17 council meeting, noting another application in the area was considered at the last meeting. “We have these large, large developments going into an area and we’re really stressing out the school systems here.”
Pettigrew noted Clayton Elementary, which all three applications would feed into, is at 160 per cent capacity.
“The (Salish) Secondary school is OK, at 73 per cent,” he noted, “but no new schools are going to be built for another year and a half. It’s putting a lot of stress on this area for the schools, the parents.”
Pettigrew tabled motions for both applications to be referred back to staff to “have it matching up so the completion date of the project is tied into the completion date of the schools.”