A plan to develop the Bose Farm was sent back to the drawing board by Surrey council which asked staff to come back with a plan that will save more than 300 trees on the property.
About 400 people packed city hall Monday night in a marathon public hearing over development plans for the historic Bose Farm at 16420 64 Ave.
At the heart of the emotion-packed issue was a plan to take down 332 significant trees (at least a foot wide at breast height). The developer’s arborist noted in his report that most of the trees are more than 25 meters (82 feet) tall.
Resident Gary McLaughlin said he’s not against development, but he’s fought his share of battles over tree loss in Surrey.
He lost his previous fight to save trees in Hillcrest.
“It’s time to get a balanced look at development,” McLaughlin told council. “If we let this go ahead, the balance goes right to heck.”
Cathleen McLeod asked council if there had been a wildlife count in the forest.
“If not, why not?” she asked. She pointed to East Clayton as an area where mature trees were clearcut for development. “Let’s not repeat that fiasco in the rest of Surrey.”
She also said the tree protection bylaw affects average homeowners much more than it does developers.
“Clearcuts in Surrey seem to be the order of the day as long as you’ve got deep pockets,” she said.
Bob Campbell said Surrey council is facing a pivotal decision.
“This is one of those legacy projects you will remember years and years from now,” he said.
Others pointed out that the forest is identified as an important hub in the city’s recent Ecosystem Management Study.
Ian Whyte, from Envirowest, the developer’s environmental consultant, said he’s examined the property and the bulk of the forest will be viable even without the 332 trees on the east side.
“You will have less wildlife if the development goes ahead, but the hub will maintain its integrity,” he said.
He also said there was no evidence of eagles or herons on the property, just one sighting of a red-tailed hawk’s nest.
Tanner Wright, an SFU student, said council needs to think about what the term “the future lives here” really means.
“I walk past that forest every single day to catch the bus,” Wright said. “I have to say, that’s one of the most beautiful things (about) waking up in the morning to catch the 8 o’clock bus.”
Avtar Johl, director with Platinum Enterprises which is applying to develop the property, said if he can save any trees, he’s all for it.
“With the road connections to connect the existing roads, it’s proving very difficult,” Johl told The Leader Tuesday. “There’s a large amount of cut and fill required on this site.”
He said he’ll continue working with the city to find solutions for all parties, including the community.
As part of the heritage component on the site, Johl has agreed to preserve the Henry Bose farmhouse, milk cooling shed, and calf barn on the heritage property.
Council unanimously voted to send the development back to staff and the developer to sort out the concerns raised by the public.
Council is now taking its summer break and will return in September.