16500-block of 24 Avenue. (Google image)

Council pushes forward applications for 400-plus dwellings in South Surrey

Loss of trees, pressure on schools cited by public, council members as areas of concern

City of Surrey council approved a number of zoning bylaws after a public hearing Monday (Jan. 11), allowing for more than 400 new dwellings to be built in the South Surrey area.

The largest rezoning application approved by council was for a proposal to build a 194-townhouse development in the 16500 block of 24 Avenue.

The applicant received third reading to rezone the site, which involves nine addresses, from a one-acre residential zone to a multi-family residential zone.

During the public hearing, council heard from a number of Surrey residents who dialed into the Zoom meeting to voice their opposition.

Reoccurring concerns raised by Surrey residents were the planned removal of trees and the additional pressure the new development could place on the already-stressed school system.

READ ALSO: Endangered pigeon habitat threated by South Surrey development, residents fear

An arborist’s assessment states that there are a total of 279 mature trees on the site, excluding alder and cottonwood trees. Alders and cottonwoods account for approximately 35 per cent of the total number of trees on the site, equalling 153 existing trees.

The assessment determined that 70 trees can be retained as part of the development proposal. For trees that cannot be retained, the applicant will be required to replace them at a one-to-one ratio for alder and cottonwood and at a two-to-one ratio for all other species.

“This will require a total of 572 replacement trees on the site. Since only 377 replacement trees can be accommodated on the site, the deficit of 195 replacement trees will require a cash-in-lieu payment of $78,000, representing $400 per tree, to the Green City Fund,” the report noted.

As for student projections, the Surrey School District stated in the report that, out of the 194 proposed townhomes, the project will add approximately 49 students to Pacific Heights Elementary and 31 students to Earl Marriott Secondary.

“To relieve the pressure at Earl Marriott, a new 1,500 capacity high school, Grandview Heights Secondary, located at 26 Ave. next to the existing Pacific Heights Elementary is under construction; and is targeted to open for September 2021,” the report notes.

The report from Surrey School District said that the newly-opened Edgewood Elementary School, located at 16666 23 Ave., will reduce the existing Pacific Heights catchment area by almost half. However, the 10-year projection indicates that the growth trend will continue to be strong and Pacific Heights Elementary will surpass 100 per cent occupancy by 2024, even with a smaller catchment area.

RELATED: New South Surrey elementary school opens on 23 Avenue

SEE ALSO: Surrey tree protection bylaw tougher but environmentalist calls for more

“I will not be supporting this,” Coun. Steven Pettigrew told council. “The main reason, of course, is the environment. There’s too much of a tree loss, a massive clear-cut… I cannot support this application with that much desecration to the environment.”

Coun. Brenda Locke echoed Pettigrew’s objection, adding that pressure on schools is also a concern.

Coun. Jack Hundial also expressed his opposition, citing growing pressure on schools.

During the public hearing, one resident suggested that seniors would not move into the townhouses because of mobility challenges with stairs, and that the properties would be too expensive for first-time buyers.

Coun. Allison Patton made note of the comments, but disagreed.

“This area is not really suitable for them,” Patton said, adding that seniors “really like living where they can walk to everything.”

“It doesn’t mean they couldn’t be there, but they like being right where all the stores are.”

Patton also noted the demand for residential construction, saying, “we need housing.”

Mayor Doug McCallum gave council a pat on the back for doing a “good job” with school development before supporting the application.

“You can’t build schools in a year, often, so a lot of the new schools is a result of this council pushing the school board and working with the provincial government to get these new schools built with the development that’s coming. That’s the way we’re co-ordinating our development,” McCallum said.

The re-zoning was approved with Locke, Pettigrew and Hundial opposed.

Other re-zoning applications approved by council at the meeting included five addresses near the 3300-block of King George Boulevard for three apartment buildings, standing five to six storeys high. The buildings are to house 163 units and nine townhouses.

Another re-zoning application, for a five-storey, 48-unit apartment building at 5660 177B St., was also approved.


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