Metro Vancouver senior planner Margaret Eberle speaks at a forum on 'housing and development with a social lens'

South Surrey forum examines development through ‘social lens’

Attendees of South Surrey forum learn how land development by churches and non-profits can help address social issues.

In all of Metro Vancouver, the highest populations of seniors living alone are found in South Surrey and Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

“It’s about eight per cent,” Peter Greenwell told Peace Arch News during a forum earlier this month at Gracepoint Church.

“People talk about the grey wave coming – it’s here.”

Greenwell is facilitator of the Peninsula Homeless to Housing (PH2H) Task Force, which hosted the forum to explore “housing and development with a social lens” – how congregations and other organizations can use their land assets to help meet such demands as financial need and affordable housing for seniors and others who struggle.

About 40 people turned out to hear from five panelists, who offered tips for the best chance of success with such undertakings, shared examples of land-development-for-social-purposes initiatives and cautioned cities against handing land ownership over to private interests.

“One of our biggest concerns, we see a lot of land ownership and even development rights on land… being transferred from what I would call community ownership to private,” said Robert Brown, president of Catalyst Community Developments Society, a B.C.-based not-for-profit real estate developer.

“It’s very difficult to wrestle land back from private ownership. Once it’s gone, it’s probably not coming back.”

According to the task force, congregations across B.C. are pursuing redevelopment of their land assets with an eye to matching their social missions.

Forum attendees heard that securing support early on in the process, getting the community onside and having, at minimum, a basic business plan are critical in the endeavours.

Emily Beam, Vancity’s manager of strategic programs, said groups that own their land have the best chance of success. Those assets represent a “tremendous opportunity” to both create long-term financial stability and contribute to the community, she said.

“I really do believe that there’s so much potential and that we can effect change in our community.”

Locally, at least two groups are exploring such projects.

Brown said Catalyst has been working with Semiahmoo House Society for about 18 months on plans for a 71-unit project that will create affordable housing for people with developmental disabilities.

Eyed for land adjacent to the society’s “treehouse” facility in South Surrey, the cluster-housing project recently secured the necessary zoning, he said. Of 20 units earmarked for people with developmental disabilities, half will be made available in 60-year leases, an aspect Brown said was “an important piece of this particular project.”

First United Church began exploring the possibility of redeveloping its White Rock property in 2010, and contracted with the B.C. Conference of the United Church of Canada’s Property Resources team in 2012 for a feasibility study. In June 2013, they voted to have a redevelopment proposal prepared that included a new church as part of a four-floor mixed-use housing project.

According to the church’s website, the process is ongoing, however, construction is not expected until at least next summer.

Central Presbyterian Church’s Rev. Jim Smith – whose Vancouver church is in the midst of a major redevelopment into a multi-use facility – told the forum it’s critical that groups planning such a redevelopment understand why they are doing it.

“The best reason for this is to do more of what you do,” he said, noting that goals of a new building or saving a struggling congregation are not enough.

“And you need to understand what’s involved. It’s not simple… but it’s really worth doing.”

Other panelists included Margaret Eberle, Metro Vancouver’s senior planner for housing; and Terry Harrison, property resource team lead for the United Church in B.C.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sven Spichiger, Washington State Department of Agriculture managing entomologist, displays a canister of Asian giant hornets vacuumed from a nest in a tree behind him Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Blaine, Wash. Scientists in Washington state discovered the first nest earlier in the week of so-called murder hornets in the United States and worked to wipe it out Saturday morning to protect native honeybees. Workers with the state Agriculture Department spent weeks searching, trapping and using dental floss to tie tracking devices to Asian giant hornets, which can deliver painful stings to people and spit venom but are the biggest threat to honeybees that farmers depend on to pollinate crops. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Crews vacuum ‘murder hornets’ out of Washington nest, first-ever in U.S.

The nest found in the city of Blaine near the Canadian border is about the size of a basketball

Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Surrey Pretrial in Newton. (Photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Staff members at Surrey Pretrial test positive for COVID-19

Ministry of Public Safety says employees tested positive between Oct. 18 and 23

Upgrades underway at the Sunnyside Reservoir, adjacent to Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, raised concerns among some residents Tuesday (Oct. 20), however, stewards of the park say everything went off without a hitch. (Tracy Holmes photo)
‘No issue’ with South Surrey reservoir drainage, despite trail user concerns: urban forest steward

Forest visitor taken aback by ‘unprecedented flooding’ of trails

A new 23-storey condo development – which might also house a new White Rock city hall space – is proposed for the current site of 3 Dogs Brewing on Johnston Road, and will be discussed by the Land Use and Planning committee on Oct. 26. (File photo)
Civic centre could be part of new 23-storey White Rock condo tower

Development proposal to be discussed Oct. 26 by council’s land use committee

(Image: CDC)
Fraser Health orders Surrey food-processing facility to close amid COVID-19 outbreak

Staff member at Surrey long-term care facility also tests positive for the virus

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

BC Hydro map showing where power has been knocked out is dotted with over a dozen outages. (BC Hydro map screenshot)
Thousands without power in Lower Mainland on election day

One outage in Langley and Surrey is affecting over 4,000 customers

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

file
One dead after fiery crash near Agassiz

Agassiz RCMP report a 56-year-old man died Friday night

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

Most Read