More than a dozen people are signed up to address Metro Vancouver’s regional planning committee Friday (Oct. 8) regarding the City of Surrey’s quest to clear the way for commercial and industrial development in South Campbell Heights.
Surrey council in July – following a six-hour public hearing – authorized staff to submit a regional growth strategy and regional context statement amendment application to the Metro Vancouver board.
The request, essentially, is to re-designate approximately 242 hectares on the South Surrey-Langley Township border – including 160.8 ha of that as employment lands – and extend the urban containment boundary (UCB) by 223.7 ha.
As well, to re-designate 13.4 ha of mixed employment lands within the UCB to conservation and recreation.
The area is bounded by 20 Avenue to the north, 196 Street to the east, 8 Avenue to the south and approximately 186 Street to the west.
It is outside of the agricultural land reserve, sits atop the Brookswood aquifer and encompasses 72 properties.
Its future has been a topic of hot debate since at least 2017, with proponents citing a need for employment lands and opponents maintaining that environmental consequences of building out the area haven’t been properly considered.
Metro referred the city’s first attempt to have the lands re-designated back for “further refinement” in 2018.
An array of supporters and opponents are on Friday’s agenda as delegations, including Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman, Little Campbell Watershed Society president David Riley, Langley’s Dr. S.K. Stepney, wildlife biologist Sofi Hindmarch, Beedie president Todd Yuen and Channel Consulting principal Tegan Smith.
Preet Heer and Yonatan Yohannes, the city’s manager of community planning and manager of utilities, respectively, are on the agenda as an ‘invited presentation.’
A report from Metro’s James Stiver and Mark Seinen prepared for the Oct. 8 meeting supports the city’s request, noting consideration of regional land-use amendments “is often about evaluating the trade-offs among regional growth strategy objectives.”
”On balance, the requested amendment for South Campbell Heights is supportable based on the evaluation against Metro 2040’s policy framework,” the report states.
The report also notes that for the Metro board to adopt the “Type 3 minor amendment,” a 50-per-cent-plus-one weighted vote is required; had the lands not been identified as a Special Study Area in Metro 2040 (the Regional Growth Strategy) – reflecting the city’s intent to seek future land-use change – a two-thirds weighted vote would be required.
As well, no regional public hearing is required.
The main difference between the city’s 2018 and 2021 applications, the report continues, is the most recent application eliminates a residential component, and thereby “addresses many of the concerns previously noted with respect to introducing new urban residential development in this area.”
However, “passenger transportation will be a challenge, particularly given the current lack of transit service, bikeways and pedestrian facilities.”
And, “there are significant environmental impacts when this scale of land use change is occurring, despite mitigating efforts.”
Metro officials note that this week’s meeting is not a public hearing, and only those who have already requested to be a delegation will have the opportunity to comment.
The committee’s recommendation is anticipated to be considered by the Metro board at its Oct. 29 meeting.
To request an opportunity to address the board at that time, or to watch the livestream of this Friday’s meeting, visit metrovancouver.org
A final decision on the matter will likely be made in early 2022.
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