Density issue needn’t divide

Editor:

The Duffy/Wright Senate scandal is sadly just another example of the Conservative government saying one thing and doing another.

Editor:

Re: We missed arts opportunity once, Oct. 31 letters; Our community deserves arts, Nov. 19 letters.

My comments to the Peace Arch News about the proposed highrise development on 19 Avenue east of 152 Street (Divided views over arts-centre towers, Oct. 24) have been interpreted by the arts community as our association being against better facilities in South Surrey.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Semiahmoo Residents Association fully supports enhancing the culture of our community, for residents as well as the artists.

However, this is the second time an arts centre has been included as a part of a highrise proposal for this area. As Myles Murchison points out in his Oct. 31 letter, it was to be included in White Rock’s Miramar, but didn’t get enough support.

So there is a pattern.

Murchison criticized my suggestion that there were already good theatres in the vicinity, including the one at Earl Marriott Secondary. We have used that venue with no problems and it housed the White Rock Players when the new Playhouse was built.

PAN’s recent online survey on the proposed complex recorded an almost 70-per-cent ‘against’ vote. This is an indication the area’s views have not changed much in the 20-plus years since a referendum voted in favour of a four-storey height limit for South Surrey.

Assuming that, why does the City of Surrey find it necessary to impose a 26-storey building and a 19-storey building using an arts centre and theatre as a justification?

Is there really no other way? Why can’t our taxes pay for such amenities, as they did for the athletic centre and for the new aquatic centre in Grandview? There have been no suggestions of highrises in the latter.

Coun. Judy Villeneuve stresses the need for highrises to reduce urban sprawl “on the Peninsula,” according to the article (Towers would reuce sprawl: Villeneuve, Nov. 12).

In our association’s fight against the Semiahmoo Town Centre Plan, our biggest concern was the proposed density, which we estimated would have tripled the core area’s population at that time.

Since then, Surrey has changed their plan to allow a 60 per cent increase in density on sites along 152 Street from 16 to 19 avenues.

We have been getting feedback from residents expressing concern and opposition to the proposal and its 350 condos. We ask the same question of Surrey we did before.

Where is the infrastructure to support such growth? Where are the roads, transit and hospitals? Have they tried driving from Vancouver in the rush hours – the ‘biggest car park in the world’?

There is already significant residential development in Surrey and in White Rock, with whom we share amenities. Their bottlenecks are our bottlenecks. Do we really need 26-storey highrises to sustain or increase this rate of growth?

There have been many statements associating highrise development with a vibrant and dynamic community. Has anyone witnessed this atmosphere in the White Rock Town Centre? I haven’t.

If anyone needs more information, please call me at 604-536-0468 or email at semiahmoo@shaw.ca

David Cann, president, Semiahmoo Residents Association

 

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