The developer behind Morgan Creek says he’s battling misinformation that’s being circulated to sink his plan for a luxury condominium development in that neighbourhood.
Geoff Barker hopes to build 46 townhouse units and two three-storey apartment buildings – which would contain 51 units – on a vacant lot across the street from the Morgan Creek Golf Course clubhouse (3375 Morgan Creek Way).
He says the project is the final piece of the high-end Morgan Creek neighbourhood, which he, as owner of Morgan Creek Golf Course, initiated more than 20 years ago.
The condominium project would be situated on the corner of Morgan Creek Way and 34 Avenue, which is the entrance to Collingwood Crescent.
Prior to a public hearing last April, the City of Surrey received close to 70 letters from people opposed to the development. During the hearing, 15 people spoke in opposition to the condominiums, expressing support only for further townhouse development.
On Oct. 23, Barker and his team held a public-information session and presented adjustments to the plan, such as flattening a portion of the condominium roof and increasing the setback of the project from the road.
Barker said one of the opponents of the project asked for a show of hands at the public-information session to see who was for or against the project, noting about 30 people were against and “50 to 60” were for it.
“The wind was out of their sails at that point, the Q&A went on, but the people opposed started to leave the room,” Barker told Peace Arch News Wednesday.
An anonymous flyer – in both English and Chinese – was delivered last month to homes in Morgan Creek, listing email addresses of council members and city staff, and directing residents to an online petition against the project. At time of publication, the petition had been signed by 305 residents.
Barker said the strategy of the document is to “mobilize the uninformed,” noting it makes no mention of the plan for townhouses but specifically the condominiums. He said attached drawings don’t include changes to the height of the roof.
Referring to the flyer organizers as the “ringleaders of Collingwood,” Barker said the “most insidious” inaccurate information is a graphic that “exaggerates” the height of the townhouses, but “leads people to believe” that the drawing is of the condominium.
Barker noted the flyer repeats many of the concerns brought up at the April public hearing, including traffic congestion and parking, infrastructure and community fit, and intent within the neighbourhood concept plan.
“This is not really a big traffic generator,” Barker said, adding the project is required to have 237 parking stalls, but plans allocate space for 358 stalls, which includes underground parking for the condominiums.
While the online petition makes note of “intrusive” three-storey apartment buildings that “far exceed” the height of all homes, Barker said the building is 127 feet from the nearest existing residence and that “I can show you a house that’s even higher. It’s right in Collingwood, and nobody is saying anything about it.”
The circulated flyer makes note of “overcrowded schools,” but Baker said that at an average of $1 million per condo, the suites will most likely be sold to residents looking to downsize.
Barker drew his own conclusions as to why there’s such a backlash.
“I think what they don’t want to admit is the real reason they don’t want condominiums is they’re trying to protect the exclusivity of Morgan Creek. They want the bar to be as high as possible to get in there. They’re in homes worth $2.5 million and they want to keep it that way.”
During the process of developing Morgan Creek, he said, they branded it as a luxury place to live. He said the thought pattern from opponents is that the condominiums will remove that brand.
“Do you think we’re going to mess it up at the end? Do you think we’re going to go about and try to ruin this project? It’s good for the community for many reasons, but second of all, we’re not going to screw this up.”
The project is yet to be scheduled to return to council, but Barker said if he’s not able to go forward with the condominiums, he will sell the land and “probably sell the golf course with it.”
“What you people are forgetting is that you people have had 20 years of continuity here, and ownership of both the land and the golf course. You’ve just taken that for granted. Normally, in that period, it’s sold once or twice and everything changes.”
“Whoever gets it, whoever buys it from us is going to be more savvy at this, more connected than I am.”
Opponents of the development were scheduled to meet with PAN today (Friday).