Keep nature away from me

Alisa Ramakrishnan

(first posted on November 5, 2015 Save Sunnyside Trees)

Let’s talk about water. This newly-developed neighborhood is common here in South Surrey. Lots and roofs are sloped to channel water away from foundations. Roads and driveways are sloped to channel water into gutters where it is whisked away to, um, somewhere else. The grass we plant for greenery doesn’t absorb much water either, spitting it out into the gutters too. There are some trees planted because, after all, people like trees. As for backyards and gardens, new developments don’t need those because people don’t have time to take care of them.

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Basically what we’re building are neighborhoods that push everything away. We build houses that regulate temperature so we don’t need shade. Our houses have running water that comes from reservoirs high in the mountains, so we don’t have to worry about the quality of water in the streams that used to run here. We don’t have gardens because we buy our food from South America or the US, unless we’re feeling environmental – then we buy local and feel proud of ourselves for doing something good. We don’t worry about air quality because the ocean breeze whisks away our air pollution to somewhere else.

There are people who look around and wonder if there’s a better way, but they’re called “environmentalists.” As if they’re different or weird.

I’d love to see developments that take into account the needs of the land and of the people who live there. Clean air, clean water, clean food, shelter, and space to socialize and exercise. That means using and embracing the world around us instead of pushing it away.

We could look at the water that runs off our roofs and down our roads and find ways to clean it using swales and planters instead of dumping it “somewhere else”. We could plant useful plants along the roads — plants that need little care but that clean our air, clean our water, and give food to birds and butterflies. We could increase permeable surfaces so the water can go where it has gone for hundreds of thousands of years — into the ground.

By cementing over thousands of hectares of rainforest, we’re the equivalent of a massive volcano. Everything that used to be here is destroyed. There’s little food for the animals that have lived here for so long, and habitat for rare and amazing plants is gone. If we think that humans won’t be affected by that, well, maybe we’re right and maybe we’re wrong.

I can’t help but think there’s a better way. Unless we think that humans really do only want big houses to sit in and watch TV. But if clean air and water and food and natural spaces aren’t important, why do people post beautiful pictures of nature and clear streams? Why do they pay hundreds more for “natural” food? Why are our developments so often named after the natural areas they supplanted? I think humans need a lot more than big houses to sit in. But someone has to pay for it, and I guess for developments in the 21st century, the simplest things are the ones that are the hardest to pay for.

Target Hardening with Grandview Heights Block Watch groups

Several Block Watch programs from the Grandview Heights area, including Grandview Acres 5-380, Grandview Estates 5-202, Country Woods 5-085, and 31 Avenue BW 5-316, organized a second “Target Hardening” seminar at the Kensington Prairie Community Centre on October 7, 2015. This event was made possible by grants from the Country Woods Residents Association and the Block Watch Society of BC. Mandarin language interpretation was funded by Burglar Stop

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The first seminar was chronicled here.

Constable Amber Briggs and Corporal Stephen Jardine from the Surrey RCMP Economic Crime Unit gave an excellent presentation on fraud and how not to be victimized.

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Constable Amber Briggs (standing) Frank Fourchalk, Dan Courchene, Rick Reimer and Ashley Sousa

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Corporal Stephen Jardine presenting

 

 

 

 

 

 

The highlights are on this RCMP Scams and Fraud website, which is a comprehensive source of information about the wide variety of ways crooks scam innocent victims.  They covered Identity Theft and fraud, payment card fraud, E-mail fraud/phishing, mass marketing and Internet-related fraud. They also touched on investment fraud issues, and advised investors to consult the Invest Right page on the BC Securities Commission website. Also check out

http://www.antifraudcentre.ca/index-eng.htm

Some tips from Constable Briggs:

-Always protect your PIN for your debit and credit cards, if you give it out, you violate your contract with the bank/credit card company and are liable for any outstanding purchases
-be aware of your surroundings when entering your PIN into the point of sale terminal or an ATM and shield the keypad with your hand and or body to prevent shoulder surfing
-never give out your personal or banking/credit card information over the phone, unless it is a company that you have verified
-be wary if someone is promising risk free high return on investments, remember nothing in life is free, there is a cost associated to everything!
-be careful what you post on social networking sites, whether it be your opinion, photos or videos, once you put something on the internet, it is extremely difficult to remove it, you can’t un-ring the bell

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Coffee and treat table … along with the Mandarin translation portion of the audience

Ashley Sousa, the South Surrey Crime Prevention Programs Coordinator, gave a presentation on a variety of issues currently impacting South Surrey residents. She mentioned that a Block Watch member recently observed a suspicious individual in a vehicle in the area of 28A Avenue and 161 Street hanging around the mailbox and called the RCMP non-emergency number. The neighbour managed to get the licence plate of the vehicle and advised the call-taker who discovered that it was a stolen vehicle. Police were dispatched. They located the suspect and he was promptly arrested. This is a perfect example as to why reporting suspicious persons/vehicles to the police can be extremely beneficial.

After 30 years in the security business and thousands of installations, Rick Reimer  of Burglar Stop  believes that customers require a security system design that is based on their needs, budget, lifestyle and family situation, and that no two systems are the same. To be effective, a system must be user-friendly, reliable and free of false alarms. Ideally it will detect and deter criminals before they even enter your house, and thanks to the latest generation of glass break detectors it’s possible to alert homeowners and the police that you have a serious problem before it turns into a tragedy.

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Security product display courtesy BurglarStop

Reimer recommends a monitored alarm because burglars who are frequently addicts desperate for money to buy drugs often tend to be armed nowadays. Ideally the monitored alarm system being tripped will trigger loud sirens and perhaps lights as well as notifying authorities so that the suspect knows he’s been detected and simultaneously an appropriate police response is immediately forthcoming.

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A system that just triggers an audible alarm, usually a siren, depends on neighbours calling the police. Thus a monitored alarm is safer for you, your family and your neighbours who are not equipped or trained to deal with potentially violent B&E suspects.
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Reimer points out that some people purchase their home security over the phone from someone they have never met and then the system is usually installed by a contractor they have never met. This is not a good way to protect your home and family. These systems are normally proprietary, meaning only one company can work with them. These systems are usually very basic in their design and function and often not very effective.

Burglar Stop recommends that you have a security expert visit your home, have an in-depth discussion about your requirements, and then have a hybrid system designed where the control box is hidden in a secure location. As your needs and budget evolve, the system can be expanded and modified easily. Homeowners are taught how to use the system in order to eliminate as many false alarms as possible so the system gets used regularly rather than ignored through lack of familiarity with the various functions. When your life, or the life of a family member, depend on your security system functioning flawlessly, it makes sense to have the best possible equipment so that it’s there for you when you need help.

A system is only as good as its weakest link. Here are some of the products  that are available for your protection:
Modern glass break detectors are good replacements for the old PIR Passive Infrared motion detectors many of us have in our older security systems. They are sophisticated sensors that detect the sound of breaking or shattered glass by monitoring nearby noise and vibrations and only trip if two different parameters are detected, thus making them reliable and far less prone to false alarms.

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Smoke detectors are important for protecting your home from fire while you are away, and of course those of us with pets know how important this can be. They should be mounted near sleeping areas and not near the kitchen. Also Carbon Monoxide detectors, medical alert devices and flood detectors are available, all of which are co-ordinated by the control box so the appropriate authorities will attend when necessary.

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One element that can be incorporated into your system is a panic alarm, which can be situated anywhere or worn around your neck as a pendant.

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Perimeter alarms will tell you when a door or window is open. This will help you determine that your residence is secure when locking up at night, and alert you if an intruder gains entry if it’s activated while you are at home.
A remote on your keychain is handy for many reasons. In conjunction with indicator lights mounted outside your garage, they can tell you as you drive in whether or not your residence is secure or insecure, and deactivate your alarm as you enter the house.
Optex 2000 wireless driveway alert: Weatherproof wireless indoor/outdoor Sensor Transmitter mounts easily wherever you need to know of people or cars arriving or leaving. The receiver may be placed anywhere in your home or office to announce the arrival of visitors.

Frank Fourchalk  is a BC Government Licensed Locksmith and Security Consultant who has owned and operated his own security business, White Rock Lock and Key, for 28 years in Surrey. He has made a longstanding commitment to educating the public and emergency services personnel in home and business security through seminars like this as well as his syndicated columns. His website, which has a comprehensive list of security articles, is here.
Fourchalk emphasizes that it’s important to educate people about home security, pointing out that homeowners can start by working with what they have but making it stronger and much more secure, often without spending a lot of money if budget is an issue. Anyone who is handy with tools can do much of the work themselves.

For example, most people are aware that deadbolts are the standard now for door lock, but it’s important to use quality striker plates secured by long screws. As well, in the locked position the bolt must far enough into the strike plate so it actually locks, because otherwise the bolt can be pried open with a knife. This is often a problem found throughout typical new home developments, especially those homes that have out-swinging doors.

Information on using lighting as part of your home security plan, as well as details on the installation of deadbolts and door reinforcers, which are decorative metal plates that wrap around the door. “The u-shaped sleeve fits around the front, side and back of the door and is one of the best security items you can buy. As soon as you drill a hole for the deadbolt, you’ve immediately compromised the strength of the door — the sleeve just reinforces it,” says Fourchalk. If you’re handy you can reinforce your deadbolt striker plate yourself.

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More information here and here.  He recommends solid hardwood doors, which he states are stronger than metal-clad doors.

Fourchalk explains the use of “security films” that coat windows and their installation and uses here.

He describes door chains as a “weak link” and “nothing more than an excuse to open your door to a potentially dangerous situation.” Instead, he recommends that you “replace door chains with door viewers with a radius of 180 to 200 degrees to give maximum optics.

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Try and purchase a door viewer or peep hole with a cover that falls in front of the inside lenses to restrict intruders from using a reverse lenses to view inside your home from the outside. When you want to view who’s at your door, simply move the cover to the side and look through the door viewer.

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If you have a thicker wallet, consider a Video entry system for your home’s front door area. Video entry systems are audio/visual security systems that use sophisticated infrared technology to give you a clear, wide-angle view of the area around your front door, even in near-total darkness. These video systems enable you to see who is at your front door through a four-inch color monitor that turns on automatically when the doorbell rings.

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Sliding glass doors are particularly vulnerable, and there are several ways they can be secured.   One very simple method is to buy a wooden dowel that fits snugly in the lower track of the door, thus rendering it difficult to slide it open from outside. You can put a finishing nail at one end to make it easier to remove when you want to open it. If the door can be lifted open from the outside, simply add screws in the track above it to limit how far it can be raised.

Here’s an article on reinforcing security of doors next to glass panels.

Frank recommends the use of the Door Guardian for securing some doors.

Finally, here is a home security checklist from his website.

Protection of Water Resources

As gobal discussion focuses on the preservation of and innvovative ways to create new water resources, it is notable that not only has the Vancouver Sun been running serial articles about water resources, but that the following editorial echoes emerging concerns felt right here at home in South Surrey/Langley about proposed threats to a significant aquifer and groundwater resources in the South Campbell Valley area. While a sensitive ecological area is proposed to house thousands of big-rig trucks, their maintenance needs, and new rumbling traffic roadways because the specific targeted area is “a gravel pit” (and hence “doesn’t have huge environmental values” according to Mayor Hepner – PAN, Sept 16/15), the land and what is underneath it is all connected. And the resource it creates is irreplaceable.

In this case, the scarcity of water is a threat that should strongly re-direct even the need to source land for truck parking. Reprinted from the Saturday September 25th Vancouver Sun Editorial is the first paragraph of “Public must protect water resources.” Click the link below to be directed to the rest of the article. And think about the Little Campbell Watershed, the Brookswood Aquifer, and the appetite of Surrey City Council to park trucks atop a sensitive groundwater system while you read.

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No one can be certain what the future holds except that it’s full of uncertainty. However, some probabilities do seem increasingly probable. Among the most obvious, as this summer’s drought suggested, are the extensive impacts of climate change coupled with the effects of regionally concentrated population growth. From wildfires racing through a tinder-dry urban-rural interface to disrupted harvest cycles; from fishing streams closed to anglers to restrictions on domestic water use; it’s a combination which promises to soon test our notions of sustainability in both Metro Vancouver and British Columbia at large. One thing does seem certain — we’re beginning to comprehend that water isn’t a limitless resource, even here on the Rain Coast.

Read more

 

White Rock-South Surrey Federal All-Candidate Events

Since it is that time of year, here is a list (courtesy of the Peace Arch News) about events where you can pose questions about your neighbourhood and issues that matter to you to candidates standing to represent you Ottawa. (click to enlarge)

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July 27th Public Hearing Presentations against Tara Development’s Duplexes on 26th Ave

SPECIAL BLOG FOCUS: for the coming weeks, resident presentations to Council regarding a contentious multi-family development in a single family area on the Orchard Grove/Area 5 interface will be posted. Latest post by Gary Cameron. Italicized print below contains the background and links. The presentations made to Mayor and Council at Public Hearing by residents are in the left sidebar under “Recent Posts”.

On July 27, 2015, City of Surrey Public Hearing/3rd Reading for re-zoning application 7914-0118 was held. The history of the neighbourhood’s opposition to this contentious project that proposes 18 units across from one acre homes and beside existing single family homes and the recently-approved standard of  Large Lot Single Family new homes in Orchard Grove can be seen here. MEDIA COVERAGE is also shared on this link.

Brief Background:

In early July, Planning Staff recommended this application not proceed to Council until there was more consensus between the applicant (Tara Developments) and the neighbourhood which is in opposition to the duplexes. There had been months of advocacy and discussion with Staff about this development in order to reach a compromise on the project before taking it to Council. The issues of an increase of density to a factor of 18 on a street singled out for low density, walkability via a multi-use pathway next to a green buffer (which was deleted from the application) and the need for “sensitive interface” of homes from the established neighbourhood to new-builds as highlighted by the Orchard Grove NCP are some of the neighbourhood’s concerns. Scrutiny  of the duplex plans by some show that their size and massing with minimal room between them will give the appearance of “monster row-homes” with no substantial green space between or in front of them.

Council, bypassing Planning’s recommendation, passed the application forward on July 13 from First and Second Reading to Public Hearing. This sent the message that the will of Council was to approve the duplexes. Residents pressured to make their voices heard, scrambled to submit a 360-person petition against the duplexes and presented opinions at the Public Hearing on July 27th. Media coverage about this here.

At the Public Hearing, Council defeated the motion for Third Hearing, then referred the application “back to staff” for further work.

However, while referring the file back to Staff at the Public Hearing, Council at large was clear that the referral/additional work would be to lessen the impasse between residents and the developer’s plan, but that duplexes were to Council the preferred housing form. The neighbourhood’s Large Lot Single Family preference (and valid option in the NCP) was not promoted.

Residents are shocked and concerned that a petition signed by over 360 taxpayers against the duplex, not to mention valid concerns, can be so easily dismissed by Mayor and Council. There were no speakers in support of the duplexes at the Public Hearing with the exception of the developer’s architect. There is little expectation that the Single Family option for this area of 26th Ave will be supported by Council in the next step of the process.

For the next several weeks, the presentations made at Council by GHSA members and concerned neighbours will be posted on this blog, sharing opinions that underscore the disconnect of building duplexes on a single family street which is guidelined in the Orchard Grove NCP as a street that requires a “sensitive interface” between the north sided of the street (no NCP, 1 acre homes) and the south side (Orchard Grove, zoned Large Lot Single Family 2-6 units per acre OR Duplex up to 10 units per acre). More on the zoning and context here.

As this file is an ongoing issue and the way it has been handled by Council raises questions in many minds about development in general and its process, the GHSA is refreshing public opinion by posting presentations, which can also be viewed online here on the Public Hearing video, in its role to share information and encourage citizens to draw their own conclusions.

 

Presentation by Gary Cameron

SPECIAL BLOG FOCUS: for the coming weeks, resident presentations to Council regarding a contentious multi-family development in a single family area on the Orchard Grove/Area 5 interface will be posted. Latest post by Gary Cameron. Italicized print below contains the background and links. The presentations made to Mayor and Council at Public Hearing by other residents are in the left sidebar under “Recent Posts”.

Madame Mayor, Councillors, City Staff and Neighbours:

We’re here this evening to discuss a development proposal with the potential to directly impact Grandview Acres, but not in a good way!

Everyone agrees that sensitive interfaces (also referred to as transitions or buffers) play an important role in protecting established suburban neighbourhoods from encroaching urban development.

Most of us moved into the once uncrowded area between 26 and 28 Avenues and 164 to 168 Streets because of the acre-sized lots, the trees, the privacy and the peace and quiet.

However, many of the adjacent suburban neighbourhoods that contributed so much to the overall look and feel of our area are quickly being urbanized, leaving us looking very much like a green island in the middle of a megalopolis jam-packed with dark roofs and tiny stick trees.

We’ve always believed that if the majority of local homeowners decided to stay here to live we would be protected from incompatible development nearby that would compromise our area’s quality of life, character and ambiance by increasing ambient noise, traffic congestion, light pollution and crime, as well as decreasing Surrey’s fast-dwindling tree canopy.

The Rural Designation for our area will help ensure homeowners won’t be forced to sell against their will to developers and speculators intent on accumulating enough land to trigger a pro-development Neighbourhood Concept Plan.

In addition to that, however, Council needs to provide appropriate buffers between old and new subdivisions by specifying that houses built adjacent to us are of a similar design with comparable frontages.

A decade ago the city allowed a high-density development with much smaller lots to be built in Morgan Heights across the street from acreages on 164 Street. A few years later Council then approved the creation of urban subdivisions on our side of the street, even though our homeowners overwhelmingly opposed the proposal. Ironically, this was justified in part because some of these new houses mirrored the higher density of Morgan Heights across the street.

The controversial development proposal we are discussing tonight calls for a total of 17 units (8 duplexes and 1 single-family house) which would be directly across the street from our existing single-family homes on 1 acre lots. To approve it, Council would have to ignore commonly accepted development practices and Surrey’s own development policies (as summarized on the display) regarding sensitive interfaces or transitions between suburban neighbourhoods and new urban subdivisions.

New development should proceed in a reasonable, thoughtful way that respects the rights of nearby residents who want to live in their homes rather than sell to developers. Only single family homes are an appropriate transition between an established suburban neighbourhood and encroaching urban developments. High-density housing units like duplexes, row houses and townhouses are NOT acceptable as buffers.

We have consistently been open to negotiations and compromise with respect to development in our area. We all agree that smart, sustainable development can be good for Surrey. On the other hand, ‘bull in a china shop’ developers are not. Just say NO.

Council should use this opportunity to establish a responsible and meaningful precedent by clarifying to Planning staff and potential developers that the will of Council is that only compatible single family homes with similar frontages to those existing acreages across the street are acceptable for new developments on the south side of 26 Avenue.

Council must stand behind the policies found in the city’s OCP, Grandview Heights GLUP and Orchard Grove NCP and protect us, as well as other established Surrey neighbourhoods like ours, from overcrowding and overdevelopment.

Gary Cameron

~~~ Overhead presented at Public Hearing

Surrey has enshrined the following specific assurances in these major development policies:

  • The Official Community Plan encourages urban land development “in appropriate locations within existing residential neighbourhoods, when developed compatibly with existing neighborhood character.”
  • The Grandview Heights General Land Use Plan specifies that transition densities adjacent to existing one-acre subdivisions be defined through “compatible frontage widths for lots facing each other along the street” and “building designs that are compatible in height and massing for buildings facing each other along the street.”
  • The Orchard Grove Neighbourhood Concept Plan was “developed to be compatible with the existing and planned surrounding land uses” and points out that “the lands North of 26 Avenue are estate residential in character consisting of larger homes on large lots.” It calls for “a sensitive interface and density transition along 26 Avenue… with the Suburban designated lands to the North…” and allows flexibility in home design “provided that the form and character already established on 26 Avenue is maintained.”

 

 

Presentation by Alisa Wilson

Re: CITY OF SURREY Development Application 7914-0118 16-unit complex + 1-single family home on 26th Avenue

Good evening Mayor Hepner and Members of Council,

My name is Alisa Wilson.

It’s July 27th, midsummer, and many people have their only chance for a bit of well-earned vacation this week. But here we are, spending another evening trying to support our neighbours uphold a simple principle – that our City Council represent the interests of residents, both owners and renters, of this Surrey neighbourhood in what is so important to them, and also the livability for all who share the sidewalks, pathways, roads, and the built and natural environment in Grandview Heights.

This development application clearly does not have community support, as demonstrated by the hundreds signing the petition requesting council to deny it 3rd reading.

This application does not preserve the 8 meter wide green buffer originally in this Neighbourhood Concept Plan that was to follow a further 18 meters along the public multi-use pathway.

This application does not conform to the NCP guidelines for sensitive transition zones between existing neighbourhoods and new development. The north side single family residents have united to make it very clear they do not want to densify, so that there should be no question that 16 duplexes are not a sensitive transition to the adjacent neighbourhood of single family homes.

This application would forever prevent any tree-scape, as the typical 28 inches between duplexes is barely wide enough for people to walk . So there would be no shade at all along the path the kids will take to school or the pool. Single family lots, mirroring those opposite, would allow trees in the landscaping.

This application does not in any way preserve livability for the neighbourhood, just more density, traffic and heat-generating pavement. (I don’t need to labour on about how important trees are to keeping our streets and homes, not to mention the planet cool, do I?)

Our Council. our City, and the residents are not responsible to make land speculation profitable. Good developers make good business decisions that provide quality development and don’t cause un-due controversy.

As we gathered over 360 signatures on the petition, in older neighbourhoods, and surprisingly, just as much in newer developments, we heard a common refrain: “Surrey ignored our most important issue of….” “Surrey just crams in more townhouses to the highest density possible.” “Traffic just keeps getting more congested.” “Surrey did not deliver that promised park, Surrey did not preserve those trees, Surrey did not respond”. “Surrey doesn’t seem to give a damn”. And at my last house – “what the H……. is going on down there?”

That would be a terrible legacy for this particular Council. We could start here to change that perception. Please deny this application and insist that in any future versions, this application be presented to Council only as Single Family Large Lot homes.

Sincerely,

Alisa Wilson

Presentation by Murray McFadden

SPECIAL BLOG FOCUS: for the coming weeks, resident presentations to Council on July 27th regarding a contentious multi-family development in a single family area on the Orchard Grove/Area 5 interface will be posted. Italicized print below contains the background and links. The specific presentations by individual authors are below that. To access all the presentations, refer to the “Recent Posts” list and the “Introduction” at left then click “August” for the additional posts not on the blog roll.

The fourth presentation in this series is by Murray McFadden

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Application 7914-0118 -Numbered Company 0935702 B.C. Ltd.July 27, 2015Dear Mayor and Council,Thank you for bringing this matter to public video graphed hearing. Constructive communication with Council is an improvement over the refusal of the applicant to interact meaningfully with neighbours and Surrey Planning.I question Councilor Gill’s claim of the application having merits[1]. I am hopeful he does not consider clear cutting 98 of 108 protected trees or the covering of 80% of the land surface[2][3] as merits! Surely it can not be stuffing 17 residential units into the sensitive interface directly across the street from 2.3 existing homes, unless he perceives a merit in circumventing the NCP and destroying the precedent of developer-neighbour respect & cooperation that occurred with applications to the west of 7914-0118 on 26 Avenue?As to due diligence, I ask that Surrey Council carefully read the NCP. The applicant alleges that the table on page 22 is the NCP’s only density regulation.murray attach 1

I contend that each of pages 7, 8, 10, 16, and 21 contain written legal modulators of that table especially in regard to the 26 Avenue interface. I further contend that diagrams and photos on pages 2, 8, 16, 21, and 22 fulfill a similar ethical & obligatory role regarding the spirit and intent of the NCP. I argue that Figure 7 on page 22 constitutes a visual contract[4] in regard to the density of development along 26 Avenue. The gross insult to the existing community and NCP is easily seen by placing the proponent’s cartoon over Figure 7.

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Even the applicant’s renderings[5] are a flagrant conn showing solitary units standing alone with cedars along each side.

Please appreciated that each twinned 3800 sq ft unit is a 7600 sq ft monster house; 8 of which will stand cheek to jowl with just 28″ between house and fence. Given a roof height of 31 feet, this is truly a space where the sun doesn’t shine. Trees planted between house and fence would block the only outside route between duplex front and back yards.

Should council proceed to 3rd reading without revision as suggested by the planning department, existing property values will fall, and many Grandview Heights residents will be grievously betrayed.

Yours sincerely,

Murray McFadden

(Enclosures- 2 visuals)

 

[1] as per minute 18:04 of RCLU meeting 13 July, 2015

[2] 58% lot coverage by buildings and 22% with sidewalk, patio and extra parking.

[3] which also surely contravenes on site storm water regulations – see page 23 NCP

[4] with equal or more weight than a verbal contract

[5] Page 31 Application- Tara Development Colourboard A3.5 July 6, 2015

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The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and are presented here by the GHSA to encourage healthy debate. The GHSA Blog exists as a resource to enable members concerned with the environmental and community stewardship of Grandview Heights to voice perspectives. When directors of the Association contribute to the blog, they do so as private citizens, not as officers representing the Association. The GHSA reserves the right to edit, condense or reject any contribution

Presentation by Victoria Blinkhorn

SPECIAL BLOG FOCUS: for the coming weeks, resident presentations to Council on July 27th regarding a contentious multi-family development in a single family area on the Orchard Grove/Area 5 interface will be posted. Italicized print below contains the background and links. The specific presentations by individual authors are below that. To access all the presentations, refer to the “Recent Posts” list and the “Introduction” at left.

The third presentation in this series is by Victoria Blinkhorn

Good evening Madam Mayor and Council,

As I am unable to attend Chambers this evening, I thank you for the opportunity to voice my opposition to this application through Ted Willmer.

The history of the neighbourhood’s involvement and position on the Tara application is recounted in Appendix 11 in the July 13 Report to Council. As I am a signatory to that appendix this is also my own personal opinion.

I am fully supportive of the Planning Department’s recommendation to Council to refer this Application back to Staff for further work in consultation with the neighbourhood. Surrey is fortunate to have Planning staff that shares expertise with residents and serve as a liaison between neighbourhoods and those wanting to develop in them. This process of working towards consensus between residents and Applicant was followed with the first application to propose duplexes on 26th Ave almost two years ago. At the end of it, in March 2015 when Raicon’s duplex application had evolved into large lot single family homes which were approved for the 26th Avenue interface, I said in Chambers as I will repeat now, that it is better to resolve differences and reach consensus under the direction of Planning before bringing them to Council.

I respect Council’s right to want to hear the opinions of their taxpayer constituents, but at the same time share the feeling of many that Public Hearing is not the ideal forum for critical assessment of an application’s merits or challenges. The public was told at the Land Use Meeting on July 13th when this application was presented to Council for the “first time” that much work had already been done on this application and that it had merit.  “First time”? This is the first time this application has been brought to Council . There have been only 2 Public Information Meetings and one meeting with the Planning Department and residents at which the applicant was directed to sit down and work with the neighbourhood. That direction was ignored. At all three meetings, Tara’s representatives told the neighbourhood what they were going to do, and, sticking to this one duplex plan, did not respond in any way to alternatives or address neighbourhood concerns. When Council states that much work has been done on this application, from the perspective of cooperatively working with the neighbourhood in which it plans to build, I respectfully disagree in saying that no work has been done.

I am in favor of development in principle when the high watermarks of an NCP are followed and when neighbourhoods that are affected by development can rely on the guidelines of the NCP to the same extent that the developer can. I also have no issue with duplexes in principle, just the location of them in this case on 26th Ave on a street of single family low density homes. In fact there are many rowhome developments in Orchard Grove which will deliver affordable and suburban character homes, but appropriate and site-sensitive placement is key in any proposed application.

The interface conditions about 26th Ave are one of these high points of the Orchard Grove NCP because it clearly delineates a way to maintain the existing character of 26th Ave and its neighbourhood to the north and transition with sensitivity to the high density lands to the south towards 24th Ave. Where the NCP offers two different options – duplex or Large Lot single family and a wide unit-per acre housing range – on the south side of 26th, it does so in order to open up dialogue between residents and incoming developers. If the neighbourhood does not care about the build out of the interface, then developers can develop at the highest density. However when the neighbourhood does care, then the challenge of interpreting the range is essential.

There is a wide gap between what the Applicant wants for the property (duplexes) and what the neighbourhood wants (single family large lot homes). Both options are within the Orchard Grove NCP. However, there are standards that the neighbourhood have helped shape, within the process and the NCP, by working with the Planning Department other developers creating new housing on 26th Avenue over the last two years or so. Residents who wanted the lowest range of the density zoning (2 units per acre) have compromised. Developers who initially wanted the highest density zoning (10 units per acre) have compromised. Other developers have seen this compromise and have followed the standard.

 

This standard, as seen in the graphic below, is Large Lot Single Family with a unit-per-acre count of about 3.6 upa and frontages around 30 metres wide. Consistent-width lot sizes with single family homes on the new south side of 26th Avenue will create a street that is complimentary to the existing north side, continue by virtue of the Multi-use pathway and the Green transition buffer, a pleasant walkable experience. The neighbourhood at large is supportive of this emerging plan.

26th with lots

If you look at this streetscape (above) you will see the Raicon development in yellow on the far west of the 26th Ave (on the left). Qualico, whose application you just granted Third Reading is in orange. A new application just posted on COSMOS last week and in initial stages (15-0217) is in Green. It also shows Large Lot Single Family lots. This streetscape shows a fairly consistent large lot theme displaying commitment to the “sensitive transition” between the existing north and new south sides of 26th Ave. Establishing this standard, as you know Madame Mayor and Council, has been a process that has happened over the last two years and with developer and the neighbourhood working together to create an interface that serves both existing residents as well as a transition to higher density to the south in Orchard Grove.

Yellow, Orange and Green blocks in the map show Large Lot Single Family plots averaging a width of 30 metres with land the same depth as Tara’s application’s, less the green buffer allotment.

When you look to the east (right) to Tara’s plan, noted in blue on the street map, there is no consistency of Large  Single Family lots but a jarring disconnect.

There are still one acre properties across the street on the north side, but here they are facing the equivalent of a row of RF 12 lots. On the south side of 26th, although not shown on this diagram, the three single family homes to the east of the Tara property (who are not planning to move) are each on lots closer to Large Lot single family size. Why has the consistent streetscape on the south side of 26t, in Orchard Grove which has emerged to follow the NCP’s intent to create a sensitive interface, stopped at 166th Street?

I oppose Tara Development’s application with 16 duplexes and 1 single family small lot home on a property less than two acres in size and on an established single family, low density street for many reasons:

  1. the density inequity of 9.3 units per acre across from one unit per acre on the south side of 26th compared to 1 unit per acre across the street. 17 units on one side of the street does not indicate a sensitive transition from 2.5 homes across the street or 3 homes on the same side of 26th to the east. Sensitive transition between new developments to the established neighbourhood is one of the requirements of the NCP and cannot solely be determined by built form and massing. Duplexes that look like single family “estate” homes are not single family homes. Density plays an essential role.
  1. the housing type disconnect between single family everywhere else on 26th . The application behind this property has also been rezoned as single family.
  1. the attitude of the Applicant that just because their duplex proposal is within the NCP’s zoning guidelines for Large Lot Single Family OR Duplex 2-10 units per acre, that no changes should be made in order to address neighbourhood concerns, eventhough the preponderance of the neighbourhood preference is for Large Lot Single Family where zoned on 26th

OG p 7

  1. because the transition green buffer has been removed entirely from this Application and because of the density and form of the proposed building design, there will be little or no room left for comprehensive new tree planting. This creates a stark contrast to the NCP’s goal for Orchard Grove to be a pleasant “walkable realm.” 26th is the pedestrian and cyclist-friendly east-west alternative to 24th Walkers, jogger, cyclists travelling to the Aquatic Centre, school and future amenties on 186th and beyond currently enjoy the street because it is green and quiet. Future development on the new south side of 26th Ave feature a green buffer and single family homes with front yards. In this application, however, beside the Multi-use Pathway will not be a green buffer or even a spacious lawn of a single family home. Here will be a tiny lawn (maybe) and a massive towering row of 3500 square foot duplexes (joined together that is almost 8000 sqaure feet of building taking up 60% of the lot) with only possibly 28” of space between each pair. This is not 12’ between each duplex as Tara’s representative states because once you factor in the 3′ wide cement stairwells which are part of each duplex and the fence separating them, there will be little more than 2’ between them.

The architect’s renderings euphemistically show a single duplex flanked by green space and trees. Since this is completely impossible if you carefully look at and measure the site plan, it underscore the difference between rendering and reality.

If there is no compensation for the removal of the green buffer by enabling single family large lot homes with room for green space, the NCP fails its commitment not just to transitional density, but to its walkable realm.

  1. There is a precedent for Large Lot Single Family on the 26th Ave interface which has already been guided by the NCP and passed by Council. The Applicant has refused to look at that option with the community despite the fact that the property adequately meets the minimum requirements for Large Lot Single family homes without a green buffer (which has been removed anyway)

How is it then that with two approved re-zonings (with a third in initial stages) which are evolving 26th Avenue on the south side into a street that both the residents, the NCP, and Council itself approves of AND with a Planning department recommendation that more work be done on this application before being presented to Council, that we find ourselves here tonight?

The neighbourhood wondered this too, so after this duplex application was given second reading two weeks ago, the Grandview Heights Stewardship Association hastily organized a petition to collect the feedback Council had requested.

This petition was been submitted to the City Clerk on Friday July 24th.

petition map

Pink indicates over 360 taxpayers are opposed to this duplex development on 26th Ave.

The reasons residents opposed the duplex include:

-the application density is too high

– it not a sufficient transition to homes to the north and to the east and to the proposed new homes to the west

– lack of green space in the application and not enough room to incorporate new plantings to make the Multi-use Pathway a green place to walk,

-the duplex home type is out of context for 26th.

– Most residents who signed were in favor of a commitment to the process by supporting a referral back to staff for more work, and most of all, the desire for residents to see only single family homes on 26th Ave.

A few observations about the petition map:

Although 364 residents signed to oppose these duplexes, this is only a partial map showing the more immediate area. There are signatories opposed this application whose homes extend beyond the boundaries of this map so they are not reflected here

  • households opposed to this application are indicated in Pink.
  • Many residents were away on summer holidays so blank spaces do not necessarily indicate support for the duplex application or a “will not sign”
  • If you look at the area directly adjacent to the application, you will see that the three established single family homes to the east of the Tara property oppose duplexes. These families do not want 17 new neighbours when the NCP tells them they could have fewer homes beside them with lots large enough for tree planting in lieu of a green buffer next to the sidewalk. With a few exceptions (because petitioners could not get hold of the homeowners), the homes across the street oppose these duplexes, as do the residents on 166A/27th With only a few exceptions, 26th Avenue in its entirety is opposed to this application.
  • Much of the area adjacent to the application on the south side is under development so there were no residents to canvass
  • Response from the acreage areas to the north and east support the need for better transitional density on this project
  • Response from multifamily developments in Morgan Heights gained interest based on the fact that since the transition green buffer in this application is removed, that the possibility of more new plantings would be more likely on single family Large Lots than on duplex lots
  • Many future transition areas (such as properties in or adjacent to North Grandview NCP) are concerned with the outcome of this application and are concerned with their own potential interface outcomes

Based on:

  • the precedents that Council itself has already approved for other applications on the 26th Ave interface for Large Lot Single Family
  • the overwhelming feedback from the neigbourhood that duplexes are not wanted on 26th Ave
  • the desire for residents to have an enjoyable walkalble realm, as upheld in the NCP, on what is increasingly the preferred east-west corridor between areas to the west and present and future amenities and which will be made more “green” by large lot front yards which can potentially accommodate plantings
  • the market for large lot homes in this area as evidenced by the near sell-out of Morgan Crest’s lots on 164th Street between 26th and 28th The single-family market in Grandview is booming. While is clear that single family homes on this site would sell easily and with profit, why will Tara not consider them?

It is clear that the neighbourhood, having been invited to speak in this public forum, has done so with its voice expressing opposition to duplexes on 26th Avenue.

If Tara Developments wishes to engage in a meaningful discourse to explore alternatives in the Large Lot Single Family guidelined zoned, within the NCP, then resident stakeholders will be glad to take a seat at the table. On the basis of the precedents already set, Council’s own transition practices and policies, the NCP’s guidelines, and the representation of engaged residents who oppose this application, I join over 360 neighbouring residents in asking Council for an opportunity to improve this application by referring it back to staff or, in the case that the applicant does not want to work with the neighbourhood it is building in by planning Large Lot Single Family homes, to denying it altogether.

OG NCP p 25

Going forward, the solution to support smart development on 26th Avenue is simple and clearly indicated in the NCP, as in the diagram above. In order to become a cohesive addition to the streetscape and the neighbourhood’s existing and evolving character, this application needs to go from the right hand column to the left. Duplex to Large Lot Single Family homes. The lot depth for Large Lot Single Family is within the NCP requirements, there is a booming market for large lot single family homes and there is lot width flexibility that can be discussed between the Planning department, the Applicant and residents in order to reach a plan more suitable to bring to Council. The NCP says that Orchard Grove is to be a “vibrant and inclusive neighbourhood” (p 7). Then please be inclusive and respect the NCP and the input of immediate neighbours in and around Orchard Grove. Over 360 concerned residents need Council to consider this clear and sensible solution.

Thank you.

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The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and are presented here by the GHSA to encourage healthy debate. The GHSA Blog exists as a resource to enable members concerned with the environmental and community stewardship of Grandview Heights to voice perspectives. When directors of the Association contribute to the blog, they do so as private citizens, not as officers representing the Association. The GHSA reserves the right to edit, condense or reject any contribution

 

 

 

Presentation by Michael Proskow

SPECIAL BLOG FOCUS: for the coming weeks, resident presentations to Council regarding a contentious multi-family development in a single family area on the Orchard Grove/Area 5 interface will be posted. Italicized print below contains the background and links. The specific presentations by individual authors are below that. To access all the presentations, refer to the “Recent Posts” list on the left.

The second presentation in this series is by Mike Proskow.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Good evening Madame Mayor and Councillors.

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this evening.

My name is Mike Proskow. I live in the area adjacent to this application and I am also a Director for the Grandview Heights Stewardship Association. The GHSA serves as an information portal providing information about our community to individuals, homeowners and citizens.

My comments tonight are generally supportive of development, however, this particular application is extremely troubling.

File 7914-0118 comprises of an area of approximately 2 acres. The proponent, Tara Development is one of several companies represented in the planning area known as Orchard Grove or 5A.

The company, Tara Developments and its holdings are very small comparatively speaking.

Despite these modest circumstances, this proponent has chosen to advance a plan for the community that puts them at odds with every stakeholder involved with the Orchard Grove neighborhood concept plan. Furthermore, the applicant has ignored advice of City Planning Staff and demonstrated that defiance by refusing to meet directly with affected homeowners, City Staff and interested parties.

To this point, and I quote PAN July 23, “the City of Surrey’s manager of area planning and development for South Surrey, Nicholas Lai, confirmed the two sides are at an impasse…. Lai said … “there is obviously a major difference in terms of what the applicant wants to see and what the residents want to see.”

Mr Lai also noted that “One of the things that staff like to achieve before we present an application to council is that there is an agreement and the issues have been addressed. In this particular case, there wasn’t any agreement or anything that was resolved.”
“From the residents’ perspective, they think they have not been heard.”

Madame Mayor, you and your council were well aware of these circumstances as early as July 13 Council when 1st and 2nd reading was granted despite, and I quote from the planning file of this date “The Planning & Development Department recommends that this application be referred back to staff and the applicant for further dialogue with area residents to address the outstanding issues.”

This advice was not heeded by Council and the applicant has continued to maintain an unusual level of defiance. I quote the PAN July 23, “Reached Wednesday, Tara Developments owner Jasbir Takhar deferred comment to his agent and architect, neither of which could be reached by Peace Arch News press deadline Thursday morning.”

Madame Mayor, it is in no ones interest to advance the wants of this applicant at the expense of a very large number of homeowners in South Surrey and more importantly, to openly disregard both the advise and direction that COS professional planning staff have repeatedly recommended to all concerned.

I could go into great detail and explain the results of no less than 4 separate petitions expressing opposition to duplexes on the interface between Area 5 and Orchard Grove on 26th Ave, one of which was just completed this past week and exceeds 350 signatures. The signatories are all opposed to this application in its current form.

I could provide a history of the negotiated agreements made between homeowners and three separate development companies located adjacent to and behind the subject property as examples of how best to proceed in the public good.

I could provide evidence as to why public policy is so very important to building strong and vibrant neighborhoods and communities but that maybe unnecessary as this already is a strong and vibrant neighborhood.

What is troubling is that I and people here tonight are compelled to attend this confrontational public hearing, a hearing that should never have come to this difficult juncture had the advise of staff been followed.

The issues are clear. The density being sought is excessive; the duplex built form is incongruent with the existing neighborhood and the proposal is in conflict with 3 other larger files underway in this development area.

Finally, I want to explain why I am here tonight. I live in a neighborhood located just to the east of this file and along on the same street. We have 8 homeowners who may well find themselves in this same process in the near future.

I want to also emphasize that neither I, or most of my neighbors are opposed to development, however, it is not acceptable that their concerns be marginalized due to the wants of any one developer.

More importantly, the actions of a few should never be allowed to destabilize the benefits of living in a mature, safe, and desirable community.

For these reasons Madame Mayor, I ask that you send this file back to the drawing board and thus deny 3rd reading tonight.

If you have any questions, I would be happy to answer them.

Mike Proskow

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The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and are presented here by the GHSA to encourage healthy debate. The GHSA Blog exists as a resource to enable members concerned with the environmental and community stewardship of Grandview Heights to voice perspectives. When directors of the Association contribute to the blog, they do so as private citizens, not as officers representing the Association. The GHSA reserves the right to edit, condense or reject any contribution.