Renderings show what a planned Walmart warehouse and distribution facility in South Surrey would look like. ( Coviensky Architect photo)

Councillor balks at ‘wholesale destruction’ of trees for South Surrey Walmart warehouse

296,000-square-foot, $175-million frozen-grocery facility proposed for 19500 26 Ave.

A proposal to build a Walmart warehouse and distribution facility in Campbell Heights got a preliminary nod from Surrey council during a land-use committee meeting Monday, with all but one councillor backing a series of city staff recommendations that move it forward.

Coun. Steven Pettigrew said he could not support the application due to the volume of variances sought.

Those variances, according to a city report, include an increase in maximum building height to 25.5 metres from 14 m; a reduction in required on-site parking spaces to 266 from 299; and an increase in the maximum number of spaces for truck and trailer parking to 268 from 78.

Pettigrew said the main reason for his opposition is “due to the wholesale destruction of thousands of unprotected trees.”

He estimated that figure at two-and-a-half times the number of trees removed from Hawthorne Park last year, to make way for a road through the North Surrey greenspace.

Walmart Canada announced last July that it intended to invest $175 million into the South Surrey project, which would operate as a frozen-grocery facility distributing to more than 60 B.C. markets.

READ MORE: Walmart investing $175 million in Surrey frozen grocery facility

If approved, a 296,922-square-foot building would be constructed at 19500 26 Ave., next to the Township of Langley border.

It’s estimated that the facility would employ 120 “high skilled workers” for the “ongoing operation and maintenance of the automated systems within the facility.”

Over the long-term, Walmart Canada expects it to create 200 jobs.

“This is the first site of its kind that Walmart Canada is building, as the company works to achieve zero waste across its operations by 2025,” Diane Medeiros, manager of Walmart Canada corporate communications, said last summer.

Other features cited include energy efficient LED lighting and “intelligent” controls that reduce lighting energy consumption by 70 per cent, as well as lithium battery cells to reduce power consumption at the site.

The applicant says approximately 20 electric semi-trucks would be operated from the facility, beginning in 2022.

The city planning report notes the 27-acre property is currently vacant industrial land.

“The subject property is one of four lots to be developed within the Campbell Heights East Business Park” under another development application, the report states.

Phase one of the park was approved by council on Feb. 11 and consists of two development lots, including the subject property, together with environmentally sensitive lands which are being conveyed to the city for conservation purposes.

According to the recommendations supported by the land-use committee Monday, city staff are to resolve issues including registration of a restrictive covenant regarding meeting full parking requirements should the use change in the future, prior to final approval.

– with files from Tom Zytaruk & Amy Reid

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