Surrey Coun. Judy Villeneuve says she is among those concerned about the city’s recent approval of the Stage 1 land-use concept for the Grandview Heights Area 4 (now known as Redwood Heights) Neighbourhood Concept Plan.
Villeneuve and Coun. Barinder Rasode both voted against the concept when the plan came back to council on Oct. 7.
And she says she and Rasode share many of the same concerns about the NCP and the precedent they believe it establishes for development in the city.
“I did feel it was premature, because of the environmental sensitivity of the area,” Villeneuve said, adding that an “absurd” long-standing formula for approving new schools would mean the area would be under-served educationally as well as being expensive to develop and buy homes in.
Under the NCP, Redwood Heights – a predominantly rural area between 16 Avenue and 32 Avenue, bounded by 176 Street and 184 Street – would be opened up for high-density residential development.
According to the NCP, high-density areas would transition to low density within the same plan, while a wildlife corridor and ‘hub’ would be preserved and parks, water course areas and other green space would be provided.
“The planning is well done, and (staff and the owners’ group) are making an effort to address the environmental issues,” Villeneuve said.
But she added she sees plans that have been in place much longer for other areas – including Newton and Cloverdale – that have not been brought forward as far or as fast.
“I’d like to see areas completed before we open up too many new areas,” she said.
Villeneuve noted Redwood Heights would be expensive to open up because of the environmental sensitivity and lack of existing infrastructure.
“Those costs are all transferred to the homeowner,” she said, adding it would make moot any discussion of putting affordable housing in the mix.
“And there is also the long-standing issue of the school board waiting to have people in homes before planning or approving new schools. That has been going on for years, and I’ve always thought it was an absurd formula. Schools should be in place before people move in.”
Council’s vote on Stage 1 of the NCP clears the way for Stage 2, which includes a more comprehensive study of servicing needs and costs of Redwood Heights.
According to the corporate report, further planning for the area must wait for an agreement between the city and the owners’ group, stipulating that the latter must pay all costs associated with detailed servicing studies.