While an application to build three homes in Fraser Heights has received council’s blessing, the fate of a related and controversial road connection is up in the air.
On Monday (Feb. 25), Surrey council voted to pass third reading for an application to rezone and subdivide 10659 and 10669 160th Street, but on the condition the “road issue” be resolved prior to fourth and final reading.
City staff had asked the developer to dedicate and construct a re-aligned, 20-foot wide north-south lane that daylights to 106A Avenue in order to provide rear lane access for the proposed lots fronting 160th Street.
It would provide a “direct connection” to 160th Street.
More than a dozen locals spoke against at Monday night’s public hearing with virtually all opposition focused on the road connection, not the development itself.
The majority of concerns centred on the potential safety risks for children and teenagers using the road to get to nearby schools (Fraser Heights Secondary, as well as Dogwood and Erma Stephenson elementaries). Many spoke about this particular road not having sidewalks, and the danger for children who use the road daily once traffic volumes inevitably increased.
Other concerns included an anticipated increase in traffic flow by those who would use the road as a shortcut to the highway, as well as an increase in crime some thought it would bring to the “quiet” neighbourhood.
The report notes 106A Avenue currently terminates in a dead end that was constructed to “temporary standards with concrete blocks in place at the most easterly point of 106A Avenue.”
“The city has planned to address the temporary condition of 106A Avenue by completing construction of the existing road allowance through future redevelopment,” staff wrote to council. The road connection, staff note, aims to more evenly distribute traffic and reduce congestion at 160th Street and 108th Avenue which is “often busy and congested.”
Staff also say the connection would help increase safety “in the event of an impasse elsewhere that may block emergency vehicles or resident vehicles.”And, that it would “decrease the potential for conflicts with pedestrians and increase safety.”
Residents who turned out to the public hearing adamantly disagreed.
Pediatrician Dr. Irvin Janjua told council the road connection would be unsafe.
While he praised new city installed crosswalks and road medians that have improved pedestrian safety in the area, he said this road connection would be a “danger to children’s safety.”
“We should be able to recognize the danger of it now and do everything to protect our children,” Janjua said. “Rather than forcing our children to adapt to changes in traffic, we should be adapting the roads to the needs of our children. Just the thought of a child walking down the road they spent their entire life growing up on, and taking one step in the wrong direction not knowing someone’s late for work is coming down the road behind them, terrifies me. And it should terrify all of you as well.”
One local who lives next to the proposed development showed council numerous photos of crashes in the area, expressing worry it would increase with the road connection.
Another man called the proposed road extension a “death trap.”
The applicants, DHAP Developments Ltd., also opposed the connection.
“We are also willing to work with the city on other alternatives,” said Sara Dhaliwal, speaking on behalf of herself and her sister.
“I support and appreciate the community coming out. As developers, we want to go with the voice for what the community would like to have,” she added.
Ed MacIntosh, president of the Fraser Heights Community Association, noted his organization previously suggested there be a public information session to see how residents felt of the “city-driven proposal” to extend the road.
“That didn’t happen,” said MacIntosh, who later echoed others’ concerns about childrens’ safety if the road proposal was approved.
He noted it is city policy “that any place there’s an entrance that could be made to another street where a developer is building, it’s just the policy of the city to go ahead and stick an intersection there so the developer pays for it. Well, that’s just policy overruling common sense. It makes no sense. We do not want it, we do not need it.”
Prior to council’s vote, Mayor Doug McCallum said “I think the majority of council feels we have to solve that road thing. From my position we need to solve it.”
Councillor Steven Pettigrew said “resolved, for me, means no road,” noting the road was an ask of the city and hotly opposed in the community.
Councillor Jack Hundial concurred.
“For me, it also means the road does not go through,” said Hundial.
Several speakers at the public hearing took issue with a city survey that determined there was a roughly 50-50 split in terms of support for the road connection. Of 63 respondents, a city report said 31 were in favour, and 32 were in opposition.
However, resident Raj Singh presented council with a 70-signature petition showing virtually all of those locals opposed the road, when educated about it.
Councillor Hundial suggested “improving upon” the surveying and consultation since the concern was raised by three different speakers. He noted the reality presented to council was “drastically different” than the results produced by the city.
“I don’t know if it was a matter of it not properly being explained when it went out. That seems to be a common question,” noted Hundial.
City manager Vincent Lalonde told council staff would report back on both matters: A proposed “resolution” to the road connection (prior to final adoption) and also on the survey and the steps taken.