Three days before city council considers for the first time a housing development at a Surrey golf course, signs put up by those opposing the project were removed by city hall.
“We do not think it is any coincidence that last week’s rally with over 150 people in attendance and the ramp up of emails being sent to the mayor and each councillor has caused them some discomfort,” said Ken McBain, who is with the Coyote Creek Action Committee (CCAC).
See also: Residents rally against housing development
The CCAC says it received permission from five homeowners and one business to erect six large lawn signs to “inform the community” about the proposed development.
They say they’ve been in place since November of last year.
“The big issue is that 2,500 people have signed (the) petition against this project,” said McBain, noting the group has run a “very clean and high integrity campaign to defeat this project and are very upset with what looks like political interference.”
But Surrey bylaw manager Jas Rehal said the sign removals were prompted by a complaint. Rehal told the Now-Leader bylaw staff removed five signs on Saturday (Jan. 20), and that they were violating bylaws.
“Bylaw officers removed five signs from the Fleetwood area, these signs were erected on city and private property,” said Rehal. “Officers removed three signs from city property and two from private property in which the owners provided permission for the signs to be removed.”
In order to put up a sign, opponents would require a sign permit from the city, he noted.
When contacted by the Now-Leader, Mayor Linda Hepner said she knew nothing of the signs or of their removal but said, “I agree, the timing was not perfect but there certainly was zero direction from the Mayor’s Office, and my office had received no complaints.”
See also: ‘Once you pave a golf course, it’s gone forever’ says Surrey resident opposed to Anthem development
Anthem Properties Group seeks to turn a portion of the Coyote Creek course into 325 homes. Proposed is a mixed-use development at 7778, 7858 and 7902 152nd Street. The proposal includes 60 rental apartments, 46 duplexes and 219 townhouses, as well as an amenity building and about 4,000 square feet of retail space.
Randene Neill with Anthem Properties said the development company has consulted with neighbours and area residents for the past two years, “listening and acting on their suggestion.”
Neill said Anthem has made changes in response to their concerns, which are outlined on a website created by the developer, at coyotecreekdevelopment.ca.
The website states community consultation has resulted in the developer reducing the project’s density by 61 units, expanding the parkland within the proposal, an increased green buffer for neighbours and a reduction in apartment height from five storeys to four. The project includes five acres of new public parkland to replace golf course land and a network of dedicated public trails.
But opponents say the project does not respect the need to reduce overcrowding, recognize “major traffic problems,” adhere to the official community planet, protect the Fleetwood Habitat Corridor, account for additional pressures on medical and emergency services and value the benefits of greenspace for future generations.
The application passed first reading at a council meeting Monday night, with Councillors Mike Starchuk and Tom Gill opposed.
A public hearing is set for Feb. 5.
Residents against a proposed housing development rallied near Eaglequest golf course Saturday, Jan. 13. (Aaron Hinks photo)