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.


Alisa Wilson

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.


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.


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


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 Tracy Redies

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.

Thank you.


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.