Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum says he is “surprised” by the support Fleetwood residents have given to a comprehensive plan prescribing densification along the future SkyTrain expansion line and he also praised city staff for their efforts.
“You put together a plan that even the public fully supports in many ways, and that’s a tremendous achievement alone,” McCallum said March 7 as council reviewed a corporate report on the Fleetwood Plan and authorized city staff to proceed to a second stage in the process. Council also decided that development applications within the plan’s boundaries, involving projects six storeys or higher, should not proceed to final approval until the second stage of the plan is completed and council approves it.
“I truly was amazed, and I think that’s a kickstarting of what SkyTrain is all about,” McCallum told council. “Once SkyTrain goes in, it’s a long time, a lot history afterwards that the building will keep going and densities around the stations will.”
McCallum said the city’s plan for Fleetwood is a good example of “smart development” along Fraser Highway. “It’s a good example of getting people out of their cars.
“I learned this being on TransLink and everything, is SkyTrain, rapid transit are built for the young people. They are not going to have cars as they grow older, they’re going to use public transit. Anybody that’s travelled and seen the youth around the world, how they travel, it’s through rapid transit. That’s what we’re building in our city, we are a young city and our youth will use SkyTrain. And it will be a good way to cut back on the cars in the future.”
The Fleetwood Plan, initiated in 2019, focuses on integrating new housing, amenities and workspace in Fleetwood Town Centre and along the future Surrey-Langley SkyTrain line on Fraser Highway. According to the corporate report, the plan’s boundary is “strategically located” along Fraser Highway and SkyTrain project and covers more than 900 hectares. It’s bound by Green Timbers Urban Forest to the west, the Agricultural Land Reserve to the east. “The northern and southern boundary extents vary, but are generally located about 1,000 metres away from Fraser Highway,” the report reads.
In 2020 city hall asked residents where they consider the ‘heart of Fleetwood’ or town core to be and participants of the consultation replied that would be the area around 160 Street and Fraser Highway.
Coun. Brenda Locke said while for the “most part” she supports the plan,” she’s concerned about maximum six-storey “builds” in the area of 152 Street and Fraser Highway.
“We know the pressure points that are going to be on this city for housing over the next number of years. I think we’re doing a disservice by not making that higher and the density, especially in that area right at that corner,” she said. “That is the only access from the bridge to South Surrey in the area.
“I get the notion that the heart of Fleetwood may well be where the library and community centre is because that’s what people know, but I think when we look downstream we’re looking at a much different transit cooridor and I think for us to build density at 152, I think we’re leaving something on the table if we don’t look a lot more at density at that corner and I think it’s important that we do that because we’ve talked a lot about having to build to capacity for the SkyTrain and that’s certainly one place that would do it.”
Asked if the city can look at higher density at that corner Jeff Arason, Surrey’s acting general manager of planning and development, replied that the first stage of the plan contemplates “significantly higher densities” than six storeys, up to 36 storey highrises at Fraser Highway and 160 Street and tapers down from there. At 152 Street and Fraser highway, he said, the plan allows for towers up to 30-storey “plus whatever provisions the density bonusing may provide,” extending from the intersection roughly to 91 Avenue then transitions down to mid-rise buildings of six-to-12 storeys and “then further cascades down as you head north.”
Coun. Linda Annis also said she wants to see density increased. “A lot of that land is commercial right now and I would like to see the density increase more. We need to get ridership. I think that’s an area that is naturally going to attract a lot of young families,” she said.
Coun. Doug Elford said “even though we’re at stage one, stage two is really where the rubber hits the road, as I like to say.”