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.

~~~

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)

Fed all candidates

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.”