A Surrey councillor is questioning an apparent rush to proceed with development of a largely rural area in Grandview Heights.
Coun. Barinder Rasode said community consultation regarding plans for Area 4 of the Grandview Heights Neighbourhood Concept Plan identified environmental sensitivity as a concern. As the current NCP calls for the preservation of a wildlife corridor and ‘hub’, she said it is “a little confusing” why it seems to be taking priority for extensive housing development.
Phase 1 of Area 4 – between 16 Avenue and 32 Avenue, bounded by 176 Street on the west and 184 Street on the east – is to return to Surrey council’s agenda on Monday.
“We’ll be asked to vote yes or no on this, and if it’s given the green light, it will pretty much be going ahead,” Rasode said.
“At this point I’m seriously considering the questions raised by community members who were part of the advisory committee and neighbouring community associations. What’s the need to go forward with (Area) 4 when other areas of the city are not fully developed?”
But Coun. Linda Hepner says the return of a report from the advisory committee is merely a preliminary stage of “a natural progression of long-term planning” that will likely take years to conclude.
She reserved comment on specifics of the plan, but said Phase 1 simply “gives (it) more clarity,” with the next stage to look at what it means in terms of servicing costs.
But former Surrey councillor Bob Bose says it’s already clear that costs of extending water and sewer and other services – including transit – into the area will be considerable.
He described moving forward with the plan as “ill-considered.”
“There are a lot of areas that are fully planned that aren’t going ahead. I don’t agree with it at all – it extends Grandview far beyond what is reasonable,” he said.
Bose said he initially opposed any development in the Grandview corridor, but ultimately switched his position to containing it and limiting density.
Area 4, he added, “represents one of the few real opportunities we have to protect an environmentally sensitive area.”
Bose said he has also long been skeptical about Neighbourhood Concept Plans, which create “a solid basis for future land use, and yet are not subject to public hearings.” Subsequent zonings and approvals, he said, tend to be in “lock-step” with what council has already approved in a NCP.
“Council has compromised itself in terms of public accountability, and citizens advisory committees are largely stakeholder groups with a vested interest in the developments – there’s no balance in terms of community involvement.”