Do the voices of people in our community matter?
I have lost my faith in the process of Surrey council to listen to the voices of constituents in response to development proposals.
A hearing was held on Sept. 13, regarding the proposed development plan for 160 Street near 10 Avenue. This South Surrey neighbourhood borders on White Rock and impacts both communities. At the council meeting, in spite of an overwhelming voice in opposition to the proposal from the local community, the mayor and five councillors ignored the voices of the community and approved the development proposal.
Prior to the meeting, nearly 70 letters of opposition to the proposal were sent to council, and copied to the clerk’s office. The records show that not one letter in favour was received.
A petition with 305 signatures expressed objection to the proposal, also submitted prior to the meeting. At the meeting, over 25 people from the community spoke in opposition.
Arguments, from people in the neighbourhood that will be directly impacted, included concerns about the small lot sizes and required variances; concerns about the increased density that will cause additional traffic, parking and safety problems (we know the traffic congestion is already a problem on 160th in this area); and concern for the preservation of trees and green space – there is a dearth of playgrounds and green space in this area and now there will be even less.
My question to the mayor, the councillors and the community is: How can we maintain faith in a process that shamelessly ignores the voice of the people?
Three councillors – Annis, Pettigrew and Locke – were responsive and genuinely interested in hearing our case. As a participant in the meeting and based on the outcome, I can only conclude that the mayor and the remaining councillors had already made their decision before listening the voices of the community.
What is our recourse as a community? In October 2022 we will have the next municipal election.
My support will go to the councillors who were responsive to community input.
Diane Salter Menzo, South Surrey