Tracy Holmes photo                                 Maria Staunton, Hugh Rothe and Jan Emsley inspect the proposal.

Tracy Holmes photo Maria Staunton, Hugh Rothe and Jan Emsley inspect the proposal.

South Surrey neighbours grateful for council reaction

‘Not necessary’ to complete 8 Avenue frontage road, elected officials agree

Concerns over a South Surrey subdivision plan that would “punch through” a frontage road along 8 Avenue near King George Boulevard prompted Surrey council Monday to direct staff to show them “the art of the possible” – ways to make it work with little to no change to the road in question.

In supporting the call regarding the application for 16537 8 Ave., Mayor Linda Hepner said she saw no reason to push the road through.

“I frankly don’t support the road at all,” Hepner said, during discussion that followed a public hearing on the application.

“I don’t think those six homes are going to make so considerable a difference… that the road is completely necessary. I would just allow six homes to be built on the lot.”

Residents of the neighbourhood had organized to convince council that safer options made more sense. They sent letters, met with city staff, submitted a petition and attended the public hearing. All with an aim to preventing completion of the frontage, which would open the quiet area to through traffic between 8 and 10 avenues.

“That dramatically and fundamentally changes the nature of our neighbourhood,” David Gill, a resident of 165A Street, told council. “It’s going to offer an option for people who are rat-running.”

A City of Surrey planning report notes the connection would have been completed nearly three decades ago, had the subject property been developed at the same time as the neighbouring lots.

And while a representative of the applicants disagreed that completing it now “would create a dangerous neighbourhood,” council ultimately voted unanimously to give third reading to the land-use portion of the application, but have staff come back with options that minimize or eliminate impact to the frontage road.

Coun. Bruce Hayne said he would like to see a “workable solution” that enables access for emergency vehicles but not through-traffic.

Coun. Barbara Steele agreed.

“It would be very short-sighted of us not to make sure emergency vehicles can get through there,” she said.

Wednesday, area resident Sheila Vataiki said she felt council listened.

“We were all very, very pleased, and very, very grateful for the response of the mayor and the councillors,” Vataiki told Peace Arch News, describing the process leading up to the decision as “an intense but rewarding experience.”

“They got it, they absolutely had heard us. Plans, just because they were made 30 years ago, it doesn’t mean they have to happen today,” Vataiki said.

Council also asked city staff to find ways to preserve some of the site’s significant trees.