From left, Morgan Creek resident Will Filion and Doug Melein are against a developer’s proposal to build two, three-storey apartment buildings in Morgan Creek. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Morgan Creek residents fight three-storey ‘solid wall’

Opponents say condo plan strays from developers’ own guidelines

A collective of Morgan Creek residents against developer Geoff Barker’s plan to build two three-storey condominiums along Morgan Creek Way say their main concern with the project is that it doesn’t conform with the neighbourhood.

Barker hopes to build 46 townhouse units and two apartment buildings – which would contain 51 units – on a vacant lot across the street from the Morgan Creek Golf Course.

Peace Arch News reported last week that Barker said opponents of the project have been deliberately spreading misinformation about the project – through the form of a door-to-door flyer and online petition – to kibosh his plan.

PAN met Friday with four Collingwood Crescent and one Wedgewood-area resident who are against the plan. The group, which they describe as an informal committee, say they were responsible for delivering an anonymous flyer in December that included details of how to sign an online petition.

The group made favourable comments about the lifestyle of residing in Morgan Creek – initiated by Barker 25 years ago – but said they are concerned the developer is straying from the “guidelines” that homeowners need to abide by.

Collingwood resident Doug Melien showed PAN a copy of the Morgan Creek Residence Guidelines, which note “the property owner is responsible for compliance with the Registered Building Scheme.”

The document outlines dozens of requirements, such as that roofing must be done with cedar shingles or shakes, and that the lot must not be used for an apartment house, boarding house or rooming house.

The opponents pointed to minutes from an April 2017 City of Surrey public hearing, at which council voted 8-0 to have city planners work with the developer on the proposal. Included in the minutes were comments from Barker that the condo roofs would be made of a product that’s more durable than cedar to avoid deterioration.

“We’re not breaking the rules – we’re asking you to do the same. Don’t break the rules and then leave town,” Melien said.

Melein pointed to a 1996 document from Street of Dreams that “romanticizes” Morgan Creek and speaks of the “master-planned” community. It’s that master plan, he says, that homeowners bought into.

“It’s probably as well-planned as any community in Canada for 650 homes. We all embraced it, we came into it,” he said, adding that “in the last minute,” the developer hopes to change the plan.

“See, they’re going back 20 years ago,” Barker told PAN last week. “It was never zoned at all. What happened was, when we did Deer Run, we did up a plan that the whole site would stay the same… But we never pursued it.”

Following the 2017 public hearing, Barker made adjustments to the condo project, such as increasing the setback from the road by eight feet (for a total of 48 feet) and flattening the two ends of the pitched roof. Details of the revised plan were presented to residents at a public-information session Oct. 23.

Wedgewood resident Steve Lee questions why the city’s planning department is “taking such a weakened approach, such a weak stance,” to the adjustments and that the developer “hasn’t done anything regarding the massing.”

“In the City of Vancouver, City of Richmond where I do most of my work… the planning department wouldn’t have the guts to do that,” he said Friday.

Lee said the three-storey apartment building is going to be a “solid wall” blocking vista views from residents.

“My point is this – what he’s proposing to do on the last 100 homes of the last 10 acres of the 650 (home) master plan – architecturally – flies in the face of everything he did of the first 550,” he said.

Lee said he’s not against density, and would support two “concrete highrises, whether it’s eight or 10 storeys high,” on the 10-acre plot, with parkland surrounding the structures.

“We’d support that,” Lee said.

“Not all of us do, OK,” Melien followed.

“Should we go there?” Collingwood Crescent resident Martin Parker chimed in.

“I think what we’re trying to say is that this is so bad, the architectural design is so out of key. You wouldn’t put this in Architectural Digest – put it that way,” Melien concluded.

Lee asked the group if they would support the condos if they were set back enough from the sidewalk. The group, collectively, said no; “because it’s still a wall,” Melein said.

The group agreed that if the two condo buildings were replaced by townhouses, it would be a “non-issue.”

The project is yet to be scheduled to return to council. Councillors are not permitted to review letters of support or opposition until the project comes back to council.

 

Artist rendering of the Morgan Creek condominium project viewed from Morgan Creek Way. (Contributed graphic)

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