Surrey mulls building plan for eco-sensitive area
A huge pastoral neighbourhood in South Surrey almost half the size of Stanley Park is being eyed for development as city council considers an ambitious plan for Grandview.
The environmental values are so significant, the city is looking for the first time to charge a "green space levy" to all residential development within the plan to purchase the sensitive spaces.
The neighbourhood concept plan (NCP) for Grandview 4, is currently home to some high-valued wildlife corridors, stream networks and acres of protected trees on 92 separate parcels of land.
Because of the high environmental values, city staff are proposing to take extraordinary steps to save it.
The proposed wildlife hub and corridor to be saved in the plan include 15 hectares (37 acres), with another 50 hectares (120 acres) of green space, such as parks and riparian areas.
The plan estimates it will cost $45 million to acquire those green spaces.
City staff are hoping the green space levy, which would average between $9,600 to $14,000 per dwelling, will cover the cost of that property.
The 201-hectare (497-acre) tract of land – almost the size of Green Timbers Urban Forest – in the NCP is also home to the residence of Mayor Dianne Watts.
As such, Watts said she'll be absenting herself from voting on the plan, which recommends allowing 15 homes per acre on her multi-acre lot.
On Monday, city council reviewed a draft of the plan, which will go to the public before coming back to council.
The odd-shaped NCP stretches to 20 Avenue to the south, 32 Avenue to the north, 176 Street to the west and 184 Street to the east.
The plan is home to a wildlife corridor stretching north from Redwood Park in the south to the angular swath of Agricultural Land Reserve to the northeast.
Staff say wildlife travel at night, so it should be safe from traffic.
The draft plan calls for a neighbourhood centre at 177 Street and 24 Avenue, which would be the primary commercial centre for the NCP.
It anticipates between 3,274 and 4,680 residences, with a population of up to 11,887.
Deb Jack, president of the Surrey Environmental Partners, said Thursday she's happy with the plan as she sees it, and thinks the acquisition of the $45 million in green space is quite ambitious.
That said, she would like to see underpasses for wildlife at the road crossings.
However, the city's own Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) had a different opinion of the development plan 18 months ago. After the initial draft plan was unveiled, the EAC said it completely contravened the city's own Ecosystem Management Study (EMS).
“If there is any credibility to the EMS then this development should not happen,” the committee said in the minutes of its May 25, 2011 meeting. “This NCP is 100 per cent opposite to the EMS.”
The next public meeting regarding the plan will be held Wednesday, Feb. 6, 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with a presentation at 6:30 p.m.