Infrastructure lagging! Can Grandview function?

This blog piece, by GHSA board member Ted Willmer, focuses on the growing congestion in and around 24th Ave, the crucial highway of Grandview Heights, and the lack of necessary new infrastructure causing the problem.

Below is his letter to the Editor (Peace Arch News, January 27, 2017} and below that, his views on the issues in a letter written to Councillors Starchuk and Woods.

Dear Councillors Starchuk and Woods,

A sincere thank you for taking the time to respond to our letter about the urgent infrastructure improvements needed in Grandview. We moved to Surrey in 1994 and have been proud to call Surrey home. The rapid and seemingly unmanaged building boom particularly in Grandview is taking a lot of joy out of our retirement years. We thought we were moving to an area with a well thought out OCP and were looking forward to enjoying the new Grandview pool facility. The deterioted infrastructure we now are being forced to live in is not enjoyable.

What we need to see from the City are actual dates for specific improvements for Grandview.

There are numerous roads that should have been upgraded prior to the massive building spree that has been happening in Grandview since we moved in 4 years ago. None of the main arteries or collector roads have been upgraded and yet thousands of new citizens are now living here with thousands more on the way. We have focused in our previous letters on what is the one area most in need (24th Ave between 161a St and 168 St) which also affects us directly. I truly believe if you saw what we had to endure on a daily basis you would order immediate improvements. 24th Avenue is our and many citizens main arterial road. Our strata is in the unique position of being on the border of the original Grandview town center area built over a decade ago part way down 24th Ave. and the WAR ZONE that 24th avenue starting at 161a street has now become. We lived in the hope that once the several projects were approved/underway (Breeze, Smiths, Soho, Morgan plus others that we would finally be in line for upgrades to 24th Avenue. Sadly nothing you have told us gives us any comfort that improvements will happen this year or any sooner than within a decade. This area of 24th is not driveable many times daily due to the crumbling road surface pounded by dump trucks. All of my neighbours are inconvenienced daily by traffic control stops for the multiple construction sites. (24th Ave., 160th Street, 164thSt, 168th Street) We are constantly forced to deal with severe darkness due to no street lighting and the danger of trying to access 24th street with large construction vehicles parked on the sides of 24th blocking oncoming traffic. This is extremely dangerous for drivers, pedestrians and the occasional cyclist that dares this obstacle course. We currently have put up with construction noise and constant dust in the air due to the extreme volume of construction.

If this part of 24th avenue had been upgraded to 4 lanes we could navigate our area much more conveniently while providing room for the numerous construction vehicles. You are telling us that we might get a small improvement as you are going to find a consultant for a small part of 24th avenue. There is no timeframe for this modest start and the general theme still is significant improvements along 24th avenue for a decade. 24th avenue between 161a street and 168th street should be upgraded this year complete with lights and sidewalks.

Grandview area’s has major infrastructure needs:

The massive building boom in Grandview over the past 3 years has serious consequences. These consequences include the almost total lack of infrastructure improvements and road maintenance. While I have focused my letters on this one area of 24th, it is but one of numerous main arteries and collector roads in Grandview that require improvements. It is the huge number of completed and approved building projects that have exasperated the lack of infrastructure improvements. I list for you Grandviews needs in no particular order of need which all should be completed in the next 5 years not ten.

  1. 24th Ave between 168st and 176st.
  2. 32nd Ave between 168 st and 176 st.
  3. 160th street between 24th and 32nd avenues
  4. 168th street between 24th and 32nd avenues
  5. 168th street between 24th and 16th avenues
  6. 164th street between 26th and 32nd avenues
  7. 16th Ave between hwy 99 and 176th
  8. Croyden is a dysfunctional mess for the completed projects and now multiple large high rises are proposed! Does anyone at City Hall look at the traffic mess we live with?

In addition to these upgrades lets also add to the list 2 seemingly updated arterial road areas that are already deeply congested. It is hard to believe that any quality and accurate planning was completed prior to their build.

  1. 24th street at Croyden Road. This is a complete dysfunctional mess.
  2. 32nd avenue which congests back across 152 street because the freeway entrance is completely dysfunctional.

All of the public services for Grandview are in serious shortcoming due to the massive building boom. The Surrey School Board has been vocal about the infrastructure short comings due to the massive building boom. The Province has only recently recognized the error of not building schools based on reality rather than some out dated modelling.

Councillor Starchuk and Councillor Woods with your backgrounds in Fire Security and Policing we would hope you can recognize the importance of proper infrastructure for Fire and Police to be able to do their jobs safely for themselves and the citizens they serve. Are the modest fire stations at 32nd and Croyden and the one at 176th and 20th avenue sufficient for the existing Grandview citizens not including the thousands of new citizens coming? These have been there for years with no expansion, in fact the fire stations at 32nd and Croyden have had their expansion eliminated due to a recently completed townhouse project surrounding it Are there any policing increases planned for Grandview, there currently is low visibility?

My Grandview home is in crisis. We can not emphasize strongly enough that we need urgent help.

We invite you to meet with us and let us show you the unliveable conditions we have described.

Ted Willmer




Grandview Heights gets a new NCP! Area 3

In July 2016, Surrey Council voted to initiate a Neighbourhood Concept Plan for Area 3. Area 3 is bounded by 20th Ave south to 16th Ave, 168th Street east to 176th St.   For years, speculators have been purchasing large acreages surrounding established acreage homes. This will initiate development in the area and, most likely in keeping with Area 2 (Sunnyside) , Area 5A (Orchard Grove) and the almost-completed Area 4 (Redwood Heights) it will be high density development.

Canopy loss, lack of transit infrastructure, lack of schools are three themes of criticism surrounding the rapid development of once-tranquil Grandview Heights. How will the densification of Area 3 contribute to this?  You can get involved with the planning of the NCP by visiting the City’s web page and learning more.


A Commentary on Surrey’s Sustainability Charter

By, Alisa P. Ramakrishnan, PhD


Dear Anna Mathewson,

Surrey’s new Sustainability Charter is up for comment, and I’d like to comment on the Natural Areas, Biodiversity and Urban Forest section.

The charter says that “Surrey actively protects, enhances and restores its natural environment and habitats” yet they’ve cut almost 2000 hectares of trees, much of that in forests, in the last 15 years. That’s 2000 full-size soccer fields worth of trees. To replace that, Surrey touts their planting of 75,000 street trees…tiny little stick trees, and up to 1/3 of those will die. They will never recover the lost habitat, air quality control and water cleaning power of the now clearcut forests that used to grace so much of Grandview Heights. When I spoke with one of the city staff a couple years ago, they said that new trees will eventually take the place of the trees cut. Since forests are clearcut for new residential developments that are mostly impermeable surfaces such as roofs and driveways, there is no room for new trees to grow. New developments have less than 3% tree canopy. If you drive around any of the spots in the city that have been razed for townhouses and other developments in the past five years, you’ll see how little green space is left.

City staff also lament the lack of green space and loss of forests to new developments, but they say that the city doesn’t have enough money to buy land for parks. A parent came up to me a few weeks ago at our elementary school and asked me where my children play, because her children didn’t have any place to go. I told her we live in a townhouse complex that was one of the first in our area, so it actually has a playground. None of the new complexes have playgrounds, and even single family home complexes have hardly any green space.

Because developers get more money for maximizing square footage, and because the city doesn’t seem to regulate the size of houses, new single family lots have almost no yards to mitigate heat island effects, clean runoff water, or provide habitat for animals. How is this sustainable?

The Sustainability Charter also touts Surrey’s dedication to “its rich biodiversity, such as fish bearing streams, marine habitat and natural areas.” Apparently, Surrey “has a clean and adequate supply of groundwater.” Why then would they support a proposal to build huge industrial areas right on some of the last and most productive fish-bearing streams in the lower mainland? The Campbell Heights North Business Park is notorious for having destroyed hectares of habitat and for being developed in a most irresponsible manner. Now another large industrial complex is planned for the Little Campbell River, converting 75 acres of formerly productive agricultural land, forest, and stream habitat into a truck parking and maintenance facility. How is this sustainable? Especially since hundreds of Surrey and Langley residents get water from a shallow aquifer that is recharged just at the spot chosen for a massive truck facility.

If air quality in Surrey “meets and exceeds established standards,” it’s only because the pollution produced by Surrey’s residents gets blown over to the mountains. As 1000 new residents every month move into Surrey and start commuting up to Vancouver, car pollution will only get worse, especially with no trees to clean it.

I applaud Surrey’s great example of setting high goals and marketing their green reputation. Now they just need to do what they say.


Working with the City of Surrey as a resident/advocate

By Gary Cameron

Can you effect real change in your neighbourhood ?

The average homeowner cannot be expected to learn the development business overnight. Much of what happens is not transparent to anyone outside the system. There is a lot of money involved, and anyone who wants to
“fight city hall” and developers must be aware that the odds are stacked against them and that this struggle will consume hundreds of hours of time. It is also important to note that the development community contributes massively to municipal election campaigns, and that developers are far more familiar with the process and the individuals involved in that process than you will ever be.

My advice would be simple. Do your homework. Find out as much as you can about the development proposal you are disputing (or are curious about) by using the links below. The GHSA website includes pretty much everything you need to know about the process. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, lots of questions, to the city planning staff and your elected representatives.  City of Surrey staff are world-class professionals who advise Council on decision-making. They also work for you, the taxpayers, an in our experience over the last several years while advocating for our neighbourhood, have always been helpful, friendly, and knowledgeable.

If there is a challenge in your neighbourhood, residents have to organize and unite and fight challenges together. They should make their objections loudly and forcefully to city council, through petitions, letters, e-mails and especially through the media. Letters to the editor are important ways to get your message out there.

While my experience was that any informal commitments made by politicians are sometimes dubious( as councillors must answer to so many), and it’s difficult to know how many, if any, of the messages taxpayers send to their elected representatives are actually read, it is almost certain that politicians who want to stay in office read all the stories the media write about them, especially around election time.

Still want to explore taking action against a development you think is wrong or needs clarification?

Here are some basic steps:

  • Using the instructions found here,  locate the development in question using COSMOS, determine the planning number and look up the Planning Report to Council report if there is one (this is written by staff before First Reading).
  • Get familiar with a Typical Planning report.
  • Using Grandview Heights as an example, here’s a detailed explanation of the various elements governing the development process, including all important references to Neighbourhood Concept Plans, which are key to determining what arguments you may have against specific development proposals.
  • Illegitimi non carborundum!


City of Surrey development resources:


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.


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


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.


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

fraud 2

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

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


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.

burg prods

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.




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.
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.

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”