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 first presentation in this series is by Tracy Redies, a resident of 26th Ave whose family lives across the street from the proposed duplex development.
Madam Mayor and Council
My name is Tracy Redies and I have worked and lived in the City of Surrey on and off for the past 25 years.
Through my business life, I have helped finance many real estate projects in the Lower Mainland and in Surrey in particular. Given my background, I am by no means anti-development, but I do believe in smart development.
I want to also say that I am very proud to be a part of the Surrey community; I truly believe the future does live here in Surrey. Moreover, I have been very privileged to work with the City on numerous charitable and professional initiatives that have made Surrey a better place to live for all.
As I said, I believe in smart development; but based on my business experience and my long-term residency in this area, I do not believe the Tara Developments duplex project is smart development.
As many people have outlined here tonight, it does not reflect the character of the existing neighborhood or the City’s own NCP for sensitive transition between the north side and the south side of 26th Avenue.
More importantly it does not respect the development precedents of single family homes fronting 26th avenue that have been supported by both the Community and the City and which are only a few yards down the road from the Tara development. For the Council to agree to a duplex development mid way through 26Ave is to create a haphazard, poor planning outcome that does not benefit anyone who lives in the area.
But as a longtime business citizen and resident of Surrey who has been a strong supporter of the City, I am concerned for two other reasons that I believe the Council must consider very carefully before making its decision.
First, as a relative newcomer to the development process I am distressed and concerned by what I am hearing in the neighborhood with respect to the City’s reputation. The fact that this development was approved through 1st and 2nd reading despite known concern and dissent from existing residents and a recommendation from your own staff that it be turned back for further discussion has led many to believe that the City is only concerned about the interests of developers and wants to densify Surrey at all costs. Many have suggested this is a fixed process. I know a number of you at the table and I know this cannot be the case but you need to hear what is being said. Is this the type of reputation that the City and Council want for themselves? I certainly wouldn’t want it for my business in fact I wouldn’t be in business long if it was.
If Tara Developments is approved at this stage in spite of more than 340 signatures from dissenting surrounding residents, I believe both the Council and the City’s reputation within South Surrey will be tarnished irrevocably and there will be no trust going forward that this is a fair process. That would be very unfortunate and, I believe, in the long run, not good for Council or the City. Given that other developers have worked with the neighborhood to come up with single family home solutions on the south side of 26th Avenue, I cannot understand professionally how the Council could recommend this forward based on the significant resident opposition.
Second, as a business professional and taxpayer, I have been shocked by the amount of back and forth negotiations and time that has had to be expended by both City staff and residents on all of the various development applications on this small block of 26th avenue. The fact that the Council has not come out and unequivocally supported only single family homes on the south side of 26th Avenue, means your Staff are expending far more time than is effective on trying to achieve acceptable outcomes. If it was my business I would be horrified at the waste of Staff time and resources.
And for residents who are neither paid planners or developers and have existing day jobs, the process is extremely unfair and complex. Worse, it is biased towards the developers who have the money, time and focus to support their applications. It is their business after all.
But the fact that the Council has not provided unequivocal direction to potential developers that the only single family homes on 26th avenue will be accepted for all ensuing developments for consistency, has left residents anxious, angry and alarmed. If residents cannot expect the City and Council to stand up for our interests, who will – just ourselves? Again, I ask what type of reputation does the City want for itself?
Madam Mayor and Council, your own staff have said to me that developers come and go; and it is true, they don’t have to live with what they create… only the residents do. Tara Developments as it is presented right now only benefits the developers. Please do the right thing and send this application back for further consultation and resolution with the strong message that only single family homes will be acceptable fronting 26th Avenue going forward — for the sake of the neighborhood and your Staff.
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.