One essential fact omitted from this article is that Metro Vancouver has a governance document entitled Metro 2040 Shaping our Future, which maps out future growth for the region in balance with projected population, food security, infrastructure and the balance between urban and rural lands, to name only a few elements.
The subject property that was under discussion is outside Metro’s urban containment boundary, which dictates that urban development should not extend beyond this boundary.
In forwarding this proposal – for the third time, incidentally – the City of Surrey was appealing to Metro to break and expand this boundary, and that creates a precedent for other municipalities to do the same: develop on agricultural land which is supposed to be “protected” by the urban containment boundary.
What a waste of tax money, which funded the exhaustive 2040 plan, to say the least.
This is not the first time the City of Surrey has preyed upon non-ALR agricultural land for industrial, commercial or residential developments.
Speculators know this, and 16 and 8 avenues in Hazelmere are peppered with “development potential” for-sale billboards on large agricultural properties when no plan yet exists to create a community plan.
Whether Hazelmere Golf Course is under financial stress or not, it is not the job of Metro to make exceptions to this boundary to enable an urban ‘island’ completely lacking in transit, sanitary and other services infrastructure in the midst of farmland.
Counting heads, all local residents at the hearing were in opposition to the proposal, all with stated, pragmatic objections. Only paid consultants and ‘visitors,’ who simply stated they lived in the region and approved of the application without reasons, were on the ‘yes’ side.
This application was wrong, just as the South Campbell Heights/Hazelmere Valley Local Area Plan was refused by Metro weeks before and sent back to Surrey for more research. Underlying both is the thirst to develop, without consideration for endangered wildlife, lack of infrastructure, the Little Campbell watershed, Surrey’s OCP and, most of all in this case, the precedent it would set to undermine the reason for the urban containment boundary in the first place.
There is a place for urban and there is a place for rural. This is not the place for urban.
Victoria Blinkhorn, Langley