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.

murray attach 2

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.

 

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.

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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.

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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.

 

A Case for Pocket Parks in Surrey

By Gary Cameron

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With some parts of Surrey experiencing dramatically increased densification as they transition from suburban to urban neighbourhoods, one of the side-effects of this development is the lag time between new homeowners moving in and services like police, schools and parks finally being provided. In many neighbourhoods the city has promised parks will be built eventually but often residents in the interim are just looking for an open space with greenery and a bench where they can go for some fresh air and a break.

images-1

One way to provide parks at a reasonable cost that will meet the immediate needs of neighbours is through pocket parks (also known as vest-pocket parks or mini-parks), a concept that has been proven effective all over the world and that I believe makes sense for some areas of Surrey as well.

There are some parks that will eventually come on line, for example the recently acquired horse stable at 168 and 28, but although the city has acquired the land already it’s unclear how soon the park will be built. As an interim solution to the pressing need for parks in Grandview Heights, it would be relatively simple to create a pocket park on the north side of his property with perhaps a gazebo and some benches while awaiting the completion of the rest of the park. For more:

In 2008 the City of Surrey came up with a report entitled “Proposed Mini-Park and Plaza Designations” that is an excellent blueprint for “the introduction of small “pocket” parks in higher density neighbourhoods on the basis that the current approach to providing parks is not fully meeting the needs and demands from the public. The intent of this report is to provide a set of draft classifications and guidelines for new types of small parks for Council’s consideration and approval.”

From speaking to Parks staff recently, it is clear that there is an urgent need for pocket parks, and they are attempting to address this need if funding is forthcoming.

What are pocket parks?

Allison Blake describes pocket parks as “urban open space at the very small scale. Usually only a few house lots in size or smaller, pocket parks can be tucked into and scattered throughout the urban fabric where they serve the immediately local population. These diminutive parks tend to act as scaled-down neighborhood parks, but still often try to meet a variety of needs. Functions can include small event space, play areas for children, spaces for relaxing or meeting friends, taking lunch breaks. etc. They can be a refuge from the bustle of surrounding urban life and offer opportunities for rest and relaxation.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To make my case for pocket parks in Surrey I’m  going to explore this subject in three sections:

– First I’ll briefly discuss how pocket parks have been utilized in Surrey in the past

– Then I’ll  propose how and why they could be implemented in conjunction with development as well as illustrate some of the elements I think could be included in a typical pocket park built in the midst of a typical Surrey urban development.

– Finally, I’ll include a comprehensive look at pocket parks in general, providing links to projects from all over the world that will show how and why they were built and explain why they are so popular.

1. HISTORY of POCKET PARKS IN SURREY:

When there is a subdivision that creates three or more new lots, City of Surrey Parks can, through the Local Government Act, require the developers to contribute 5% of their land towards Parks or 5% cash in lieu of their land that goes towards parkland acquisition elsewhere. In a lot of the older neighbourhoods in Surrey there are plenty of these small parks that were acquired through the subdivision process. That 5% contribution has been a significant source of income for decades, although it is getting smaller each year as more and more townhouses are constructed because they don’t create new lots, just strata units.

In the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s Surrey usually chose to take the 5% requirement as land instead of cash in lieu. That has protected some lands in older areas of the City, but it has at times caused problems because all too often they have proven to be challenging to maintain and operate. These pocket parks (also referred to sometimes as ‘tot lots’) are often too small to provide any real amenities like playground equipment. Some examples:

Tom Thumb Tot Lot (from the 70’s) 6703 – 141 Street:

tom_thumb_park

Jack N Jill Tot Lot, 12852 – 68 Avenue:

 

jack_n_jill_tot_lot_park

There aren’t many pocket parks in South Surrey, Alexandra Tot lot being one of the few.

AlexandraTotLot_rdax_495x278

(For more, click here. )

Here are a few discussions culled from various city meeting that dealt with pocket parks in various areas of the city:

Newton is the site of a number of pocket parks, as discussed at the meeting mentioned above under the section entitled: Parkland Contribution. “There is currently a shortage of a neighbourhood-level “pocket” park in the South Newton NCP area, particularly west of 142 Street and south of 60 Avenue. Each development application proposing an increase in unit density over and above the NCP designation exacerbates the need for this park space.”

There was a useful discussion of pocket parks at this city meeting regarding the East Clayton neighbourhood on Page 9-11: “Pocket parks will be neighbourhood destinations with amenities to create more neighbourhood interaction” “Pocket parks require community buy-in and ownership. Have canvassed neighbourhoods to discover needs and address these through design.” “Staff have visited other similar sites and looking in from the streets and houses the pocket park is small and good and open. From a security perspective, this is quite desirable.”

As well, there was a good discussion at a 2009 meeting about park construction by the development sector” on Page 1:

“This site is ideal for a pocket park for the following reasons: it is centrally located and within walking distance of the high residential densities.”

Judging by the photo, this may not be the best example of what a pocket park should look like:

wade_park

Hint: just a bit of grass, no amenities, not a welcoming gathering space …

There are admittedly potential challenges to pocket parks. Because they are usually surrounded by single family houses, they often have problems with dumping of yard waste (that leads to invasive species taking over), graffiti, maintenance, and other issues like people loitering after dark.

Currently, the City often takes cash in lieu instead of land because the available money to acquire land is being stretched more and more, so they try to be very strategic about what land they acquire with their limited funds, hence the movement towards larger parks. I witnessed a meeting where the city was offered a piece of land with several desirable mature trees as a potential park in the midst of a crowded new subdivision and, for a variety of reasons, parks rejected the offer. I’d like to see City Council push for more pocket parks using land contributions from developers.

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2. Why Pocket Parks should be considered for typical Surrey developments:

  • They can be created on land of any size or shape donated as part of the development process at no initial cost to the taxpayer in order to serve the local population.
  • Although they are too small for the usual park facilities like playing fields and playgrounds, there could be provisions for some very basic workout activities as well as child play areas and pet-friendly facilities.
  • They would provide a limited amount of open space, greenery and a comfortable place to sit down.
  • There are studies that show “Open spaces such as parks and recreation areas can have a positive effect on nearby residential property values, and can lead to proportionately higher property tax revenues for local governments.”
  • They are a perfect place for neighbours to gather for informal conversations, to play games, to walk their dogs and generally to get out of the house for a breath of fresh air.
  • If the neighbours approve of the project (and they should be consulted about their ideas well ahead of time) it is hoped they will take long-term ownership of the pocket park concept by pitching in to help keep it a clean, quiet and safe asset to the area under the overall management, of course, of the city.
  • Although Pocket Parks are inherently small in area, they would still contribute to increasing the amount of permeable surface for drainage purposes. Their greenery would contribute to the tree canopy and they could also function as a home for some wildlife such as birds.
  • Having Pocket Parks scattered throughout the city would mean residents would not have to get in their car and drive to some of the larger parks, thus limiting vehicle use, traffic congestion, and taking some pressure off those already crowded major parks.
  • They would be useful for staging small neighbourhood events such as block parties and Block Watch gatherings.
  • The park should be accessible to children and people with disabilities.
  • Creating mini-parks  increase physical activity. For more click here.

Some elements to be considered for a prototype Surrey Pocket Park, although obviously no single Pocket Park can incorporate all of these elements:

  • Low fencing on all sides except the street to separate from adjacent neighbour’s yards, high enough to keep visitors inside park limits but low enough that neighbours can easily monitor activity in the park for security reasons.

030615-Pocket-Park-560

  • A Toter curbside garbage collection cart for dog waste, dirty diapers and litter, to be picked up twice monthly in conjunction with the regular neighbourhood collection run. image-broker
  • There would be no access after dark, and of course no overnight camping as is the case with most parks, and the city would ask the RCMP and the By-Law Enforcement folks to commit to strictly enforcing these regulations in order to ensure peace and quiet for neighbours at night.
  • A Pocket Park could incorporate a small sculpture or monument for place making elements.images-1 images
  • An all- seasons drinking fountain for people and dogs would be practical. Photo_120907_006
  • A Gazebo structure with protected seating because of the rainy season on the west coast. Pisa stone or concrete steps could be used for sitting and relaxing in addition to getting from one elevation to another.hjn052913armstead-1p

Pocket-park-1

  • Landscaping: Minimize grass area, and maximize paving stones, pathways, trees, shrubs, rock gardens and planted garden areaspocket_park02
  • Lots of seating, shaded and unshaded. Sell_park_bench_seats_urban

2010.pocket.03

  • Built in game seating with two fixed chairs facing a game table suitable for board games like chess or checkers or card gamesimages

 

  • Bike rack

uracks1small

  • Bench suitable for tanning, sit-ups and push-upsfitness-sports-equipment
  • Simple, maintenance-free outdoor workout equipment

Record-RSS-fitness1

  • Simple concrete stairs (5 steps up, a landing at top that can double as a kid’s fort, and 5 steps down the other side, with railings and no-skid treads) to use for fitness training

Tips-For-Using-Stairs-To-Create-A-Total-Body-Workout

  • Picnic table

hughes-avenue-reserve_2(or if in a wooded area, the imagination could take hold!)

images

  • Sandbox for little kids

images3. A comprehensive look at pocket parks in general

Still curious about pocket parks? Here are some links that provide overviews, details, and more.

A brief Wikipedia definition of pocket parks.

A comprehensive overview of pocket parks

13 of the best pocket parks in New York City

Inner Suburban Pocket Parks in Melbourne, Australia

Pocket Parks Blossom to Create Shareable Spaces

A great overview of Pocket Parks in urban areas

Copenhagen – Pocket parks, a drop of urban green

 

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.

 

 

 

Guest post by Laila Yuile: “Its no longer enough….”

Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator.  A British Columbian by birth, she grew up north of Prince George. She makes her home on the west coast. Laila deeply values the unique perspective gained from her rural upbringing. She has broken many compelling news items that have been distributed,re-printed and covered by papers all over the province. Laila asks the provocative questions that the people of British Columbia want answers to.

In this piece Laila joins many luminaries in positing the difference between being a taxpayer and resident versus an engaged citizen — not just a citizen of a community but of an interconnected global home.  Although the GHSA exists first and foremost  to share information resources, as Laila observes, an individual’s right to be proactive (no matter how small or large the issue) is a necessity in the times we live in and we want to share her words on this.

“It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news…”

“Because it’s no longer enough to be a decent person. It’s no longer enough to shake our heads and make concerned grimaces at the news. True enlightened activism is the only thing that can save humanity from itself.”
― Joss Whedon

I worry. A lot sometimes.

I worry about the price of produce at the veggie market every week. It’s getting more and more expensive and I worry that the drought in California will drive that price up even more.

Then I worry that California will figure out how little B.C. values it’s water supply, show up here like it’s a modern gold rush and tap into some trade agreement that leaves British Columbian’s paying through the nose for a resource we own…while entitled Hollywood types are lavishing in their pools,drinking BC water as California shrivels under crippling  drought.

I worry about the safety of my community right now, while young men with too much testosterone and not enough wisdom are putting the public at risk every time they shoot at each other. In busy family neighbourhoods, while people are out and about.

I worry about the lack of resources in our schools and I worry about how many good kids who need help are falling through the cracks, sure to cost society more in the long run than if we took care of the issues now. I wonder if the young men shooting at each other now, were once those kids themselves.

I worry about how a brand new ship could suffer a ‘malfunction’ that many mariners suspect was human error, releasing toxic bunker fuel into one of our most beautiful harbours.

I worry that our governments continue to make short-sighted decisions and policies that have implications so serious that people’s lives and livelihoods are lost. Veterans left behind, front line workers suffering from PTSD abandoned. Mt.Polley, sawmill explosions – the list is long and sadly, often preventable.

But most of all, I worry that so many good,decent people have become so de-sensitized to the never-ending onslaught of news that even this latest outrageous response to the Vancouver fuel spill will soon be forgotten with a few sunny days and the next scandal sure to come.

I’m here to tell you,that’s just not going to cut it anymore. It’s not enough to just be a good person and tsk-tsk at the morning news. That makes you part of the problem.

No, really, it does. You might not want to hear this but I’m so tired of hearing people say politics bores them, or politics has nothing to do with them. Look around you! Look at what is going on in your city, your town or your own neighbourhood.

Pissed off over potholes? Who’s in charge of that? Whats your local mayor and council doing if it’s an ongoing issue?

Guess what? That’s politics. That is how politics impact you. It doesn’t have to be an oil spill or tailings pond collapse, it can be something as minor as never-ending potholes.

Tired of overcrowded schools? How did that happen? Well, mayor and council have to approve all those developments and if they do without thought to the local schools, your kids are the ones who feel it.

That’s politics.

The  provincial government policy that prevents a new school from being built until the current ones are busting kids at the seams? That’s political.

Sitting in a waiting room in the understaffed hospital in ER for hours on end only to end up on a stretcher in the hallway because there isn’t a room for you? That’s political.

The people who run your city, your province and this country are elected by you.

They direct the policy making, they decide where and how the money is spent and they can either do a very good job at it, or not. And I think they like it when people don’t pay attention because it makes their job even easier.

You might not be into politics, but make no bones about it, politics is very interested in you.

Right now you’re probably saying to yourself: “But I’m busy, I am working two jobs, kids, my parents…” I get that. There are only so many hours in a day and the last thing you want to do is spend it in a room listening to campaign strategy.

That’s not at all what I am asking you to do.

It can be as simple as joining your local community association and just receiving their emails so you can find out whats going on right in your own small area, that directly impacts your life. That’s where it starts for many people. That’s activism. It engages you in how political decisions affect your life.It can directly impact how politicians make future decisions.

Over the last year, I had the pleasure of seeing a new community association form and grow in one area of Surrey and seeing some people who have never paid attention to politics suddenly discover how much impact they had… it makes me smile thinking of it now.

What matters to you? What impacts your life directly? Write a letter to the editor next time you see a story that touches you in some manner. Write a letter to your provincial MLA, or ask to meet them. Let your member of parliament know what you think of their government’s policy. Ask them what they actually do, or have done for your community.

That’s not only your right as a citizen, I’m telling you it is your duty as one too.

Ask questions, hard ones and demand answers. In writing. If you get none, write a letter to the editor about that as well. Start a conversation with your neighbour, your co-worker, the person next to you at the bus stop.

The closure of the Kitsilano Coast Guard station was a decision made to save money. It was heavily protested by Vancouver residents and mariners alike. The government still defends that decision.

It doesn’t get more political than that.

If you are as angry about that closure and this fuel spill response, you are interested in politics. It’s that simple. But instead of being angry and reactive, get engaged and be proactive.

If you are upset over the demolition of heritage homes in your city, you are interested in politics. It could be trees, it might be development, it could simply be the need for a new sidewalk. It’s all politics and for most of us, that’s how we started.

We simply woke up one day and said: “That’s it. I’m doing something about this.”  And never looked back once we discovered there were thousands of regular people out there just like us looking for the same direction.

And let me tell you – It’s so much nicer walking in awareness, than sitting in the dark.

“It takes guts and integrity of motive to fight the good fight. It takes a passionate interest in life itself. It’s easy to stand on the sidelines, shaking your head and commenting on how tragic things are.

But if you really care, you are going to be in the ring, trying to make the world a better place. And only from that position will your words and your thoughts and your insights have weight.

When you live an engaged life, your sense of self gains depth and power and authority, and your philosophy is no longer abstract. You become a person who can really make a difference, because you are actively participating, you are digging deep, and you are pushing up against the edge of your own potential.

 …And in order to fight the good fight, we have to engage, we have to get into the ring, not just stand outside it and be philosophers.”

~Andrew Cohen

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To read feedback on this post visit Laila’s blog at http://lailayuile.com/

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.

 

 

Maintaining tree canopy: an interview with Sybil Rowe

By Savannah Chanel

Imagine an enormous verdurous forest with grand rustling trees, ferns blanketing the ground, and the resonant twittering of birds—to some it is a place of solace, one that contains so much life.

However, there may be others who see a place of potential for some prosaic new development—which may involve inestimable destruction that they would prefer not to think about—allowing their avarice to consume them.

That’s not to say development in and of itself is a terrible thing, but too often it coincides with environmental concerns being overlooked or deliberately ignored.

South Surrey has recently seen a rapid increase in new development and not everyone is enchanted with a developer-driven model of city planning.

Voices of dissent are reflecting a growing public desire to retain green space and tree canopy, for reasons that are as much to do with quality of life as ecological concerns.

Sybil Rowe is a Surrey environmental activist and member of the Grandview Heights Stewardship Association. With her vast knowledge and eloquence, she provides informative and engrossing responses when discussing why maintaining a sufficient tree canopy is important to our cities.

Rowe believes the health benefits of a city’s tree canopy cannot be overstated.

“The colour green, in itself, has been proven to be soothing and healing,” she says. “Studies done on patients in hospitals have shown that windows looking out on to green space and trees lead to a quicker convalescence and fewer requests for pain medication.”
“At no other time in history has man been so cut off from nature, i.e. plants and animals,” Rowe adds.

She contends that the result of this disconnect is a marked rise in sickness, stress, and depression.

“People, whether they know it or not, love trees. Consider the effect of the beauty and splendour of trees on our spirits.”
But retaining trees is more than an emotional need, she says.

 

“The heat factor is of immense importance. UBC has maps showing the “hot spots” in Vancouver where there has been significant loss of trees. The temperature is several degrees cooler in well-treed districts overall, not just under the tree itself.

“The head arborist in the City of Surrey was sent a few years back to Atlanta GA, to study their massive re-forestation project. The first strong tree cutting bylaws in the US had been enacted. This was brought about by horrendous heat, the result of stripping the city of its trees – in other words, doing just what we are doing now here in Surrey.

“Of course, pollution control and carbon dioxide absorption are just as important for a city as anywhere else.”
Mankind has always lived in harmony with plants and animals, she asserts. While this is now touted as ‘biodiversity,‘ it exists in every old fashioned back yard, Rowe says.
“It does not exist in high density housing developments where clear-cuts have taken place. The trees in the yard and the birds, owls and other “critters,” lend themselves consciously or unconsciously to the happiness and well being of the dwellers of the house.”

Rowe believes development is a major contributor to loss of tree canopy.

“Thoughtless planning, often referred to as ‘armchair planning’, ruins the canopy.” Rowe explains.

“This means that the planner has looked at a map in his office and proceeded to work, without going out on to the land and seeing just what he is about to destroy.”

 

Rowe says the most frustrating thing about development is the way street trees are lost due to decreased set backs of houses, widened roads, bicycle lanes, curbs, sidewalks and services.

“The land the developer does not fill with houses, the engineer takes up with the above mentioned features. When both are finished, there is simply no room left for trees.”

Rowe believes the underlying factor of this is greed.

“A few people will get very rich, and the rest of the people will live in the hot, cramped quarters left behind when the developer departs,” she says.

Rowe states it will be extremely difficult to reverse the loss of tree canopy, due to the amount of money involved. “It’s a huge force to fight.”

Surrey’s current Neighbourhood Concept Plan system, says Rowe, while appearing to enshrine a public consensus on development of a specific area, actually opens a window for developers in which subsequent amendments can be made and approved by council – frequently without any further public input.

In response, she says, groups of well organized, determined people are needed.

They have to “visit city hall, go to chambers on Monday, visit the Planning and Parks Dept., Engineering, etc. and basically say, “Hello there, we are still here, and we are not going away.””

To achieve a more environmentally-friendly city, Rowe suggests there should be stricter penalties on the cutting down of trees.

“Our pittance of a penalty, dealt out to developers for cutting down significant trees, should be tripled,” she says. “Even if the penalty is not a sufficient deterrent to the developer, it would at least give the Parks Department more money to buy green space for parks.”

“Secondly, I feel that every development should have a mandatory small green park, treed, within its area for the dwellers.”

“This would make up, in small measure, for the missing back yards.”

“Ideally, high density has no place in magnificently treed areas like Grandview Heights, but should be kept within the city proper and along heavy traffic routes.”

Rowe believes education of residents is of vital importance.

“One way – the only way, I think – that will work, is education of residents before it is too late, and building groups of “guardians” to go to city council and remind them that they are not “potentates” but paid servants of the people and as such, must listen to the needs and desires of the “little” guys, not just the rich developers.”

“The people have got to “push back” before it is too late.” Rowe adds.

“Other enemies of the trees and environment, are lethargy, complacency, and intense preoccupation with the daunting task of just earning a living and making enough money to pay the bills, then coming home to take care of the house and feed the family. I cannot remember a time when everyone was so busy and had such jam-packed schedules. In the mean time, the world is falling apart around them.

“However, the spirit of saving the land can be very catchy, whenever even a small, dedicated group “hangs on” and refuses to get discouraged.”

 

As a young person who has lived in the community for several years, it has been greatly dismaying to this writer to watch significant development take place with frightening rapidity and a maddening disregard to the surrounding vegetation.

Such expansion took an entire forest down near my house, and, among a plethora of upsetting repercussions, it has also changed the vicinity into something quite dreary.

To be sure, there are a few young trees per block—but the majority of these trees, once spring is over, are skeletal, sombre beings.

In addition, I recently observed (with horror) a large tree cut down right beside my house. I can’t say what for, but the tree appeared healthy so I can only surmise it must have been interfering with a foundation or a pipe or something like that.

This incident certainly seems to confirm the suspicion that little to no thought is applied when it comes to the planting of trees. It’s been a few months now and there has been no replacement to speak of. According to the City of Surrey website, when you remove a tree in Surrey, “you are typically required to plant a replacement tree.”

It’s frustrating to simply stand by and watch events such as this take place.

In truth, I’m a novice when it comes to environmental activism. The extent of my involvement has been responding to environmental tragedies by simmering in feelings of sadness, helplessness, and anger.

Like Rowe, I too believe that educating and encouraging the population is of great importance if we are to try and reverse the damage that has been done.

 

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.

“Target Hardening”: Practical resources for protecting your home

Country Woods Block Watch, spearheaded by Captain Peter Tilbury and BW members Anne Tilbury and Sybil Rowe organized a presentation entitled “Target Hardening” at the Kensington Prairie Community Centre on Friday March 27th for four Grandview Heights Block Watch groups.

audience

Ashley Sousa, South Surrey Crime Prevention Programs Coordinator (Phone: 604.599.7862 E-mail: ashley.sousa@rcmp-grc.gc.ca)  kicked off the night. She explain how Block Watch functions and what the RCMP is looking for from our community in terms of 911 and the non-emergency number calls. For your reference the non-Emergency number is 604-599-0502

Ashley

Next there were two presentations by companies who have products that can help to make your home less attractive to the thieves that have targeted homes in this area over the past 12 months.

The first speaker was Frank Fourchalk (E-mail: frank@yourhomesecurity.ca Phone: 604-531-0715) of White Rock Lock and Key. He covered a wide range of topics, many of which are covered in great detail on his very comprehensive website which is a must-see if you have any questions on home security.

He described one method in particular that is relevant to many homes because burglars are able to “shoulder” their way through front doors as a result of the built-in weakness of many metal-clad doors and the way deadbolts are installed. Because these doors are usually framed with wood and covered with a thin layer of sheet metal, the door is substantially weakened when a hole is drilled for the deadbolt installation, leaving it vulnerable to thieves. This can be simply and cheaply remedied by the installation of door reinforcers, which can be done by a homeowner (you need to measure back set and door thickness) or by a locksmith.

images

Here are examples from Home Depot, but they are widely available elsewhere. He also described the correct way a deadbolt should be installed to maximize security, in particular how the screws into your striker plate should be 3” in length. 70% of all break-ins are done through doors.

If you have glass in the vicinity of your door, you can use Lexan, a polycarbonate, on the inside or outside of the window glass to keep burglars from breaking the glass and unlocking your deadbolt from the inside. Bars are not recommended unless you have a way of escaping out through them in case of fire.

no bars!

 

 

 

 

Door chains are less than worthless as they don’t work. Bad guys can actually reach inside the door gap and unscrew the plate the chain is attached to!

door chains bad

images-1

 

 

 

 

It’s a good idea to have lights on inside the house on timers, whether you are home or away, and set up your sound system so the  speakers are playing talk radio near the front door when you’re out. Vary the light timers to confuse undesirables stalking your home.

There are wireless driveway intruder detectors mounted 4’ high (to avoid false alarms from animals) that will alert you when someone walks up your driveway. Should you observe a suspicious person about to burglarize your home, you can hit the panic button on your monitored alarm system so the alarm company can summon the police, or trigger your car alarm from your car key fob to scare them off.

Unknown

Either way, the consensus was that anyone who feels threatened should feel free to call the police, at 911 if it’s an emergency or an imminent threat. Fourchalk also recommended (especially for women living alone) buying a large pair of work boots, muddying them up, and placing them outside the front door along with a “Do Not Disturb – Shift Worker” sign!

Dan Courchene and Rick Reimer of Burglar Stop (Phone: 604-877-0500 Email: rick@burglarstop.ca) presented an overview of the latest alarm technology and how it can enhance home security.

burgl stop

Of particular interest was the latest generation of glass breakage detectors which are very effective at tripping as burglars attempt entry, rather than using traditional Passive Infrared Sensors (PIRs) which are tripped only after entry is made to your home. They also help limit false alarms. Burglar Stop also has a selection of the latest technology in wireless front door intercom and security camera systems, including units that take pictures of everyone who rings your doorbell, and portable intercoms you can carry with you that enable you to answer the front door from anywhere in the house. You can now activate your home alarm system from a key fob (panic alarm button available) or smart phone, and they stressed how important it was to have an LED light visible as you drive up to your garage door. That way you’ll know whether or not your alarm system has been activated so you can switch it off as you drive in.

Here’s an overview of related intercom technology from the Internet.

Apparently some home insurers offer discounts for Block Watch participants, and I’m told that you may also get a discount as a result of the new postal code we’ve been awarded recently, so check with your insurance company. Our Block Watches do not endorse any particular security companies and this information is presented as resource only.


 

By Gary Cameron, 5-380 Block Watch Captain

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s and are presented here by the GHSA to encourage healthy debate and inform. 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.

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Tracy Holmes of the Peace Arch News covers the event and related issues in her April 10, 2015 article here.

 

 

Destroying to Create

By Victoria Blinkhorn

In order to create homes for new residents from essentially greenfield land, you must destroy. In Grandview Heights, around the area of 164th Ave between 26th and 28th Ave, it has been a nearly two year process for six acreages not within a Neighbourhood Concept Plan Area (an area with a City-approved land use plan created with public consultation) to go through the development application process. On January 12, 2015 the clearing of the land began and soon the creation of new homes will rise in “Morgan Crest.”

We look forward to welcoming new families into our transforming neighbourhood. The builder is reputable so the new homes are likely going to be lovely.

For many residents, the shock that inevitably accompanies the clearing of green lands, is palpable for those who loved the greenspace that once existed. We miss the nocturnal call of the owl and birdsong of hundreds whose homes were bulldozed.  Those neighbours most directly affected will miss the shade of the whispering trees in the summer breeze and the little creatures they harboured.  It is good to remember what was there before and for neighbours concerned about their recently stripped side and/or backyards, it is also important to know that there is a re-planting scheme to contribute to a buffer that they once enjoyed in the form of natural, albeit overgrown woodlands. At the bottom of this blog are links to the development application process for Morgan Crest as well as to tree retention and re-planting diagrams.

The camera lens is the writer of this blog as it shows some “before and afters” to date.

The first image to set the stage for reference is courtesy Google Earth, summer 2014. The red-bordered land (#1)  is Morgan Crest, the blue #2 to its north a recently-approved extension to the original infill, and #3 a one acre lot whose development application is inevitable. All the trees on property #2 are being removed save two.

infill google earth

 

summer 2014 tele pole

BEFORE: Fall 2014, view eastwards from 164th with telephone pole as reference

Feb 2015 tele pole

AFTER: same spot, during the one week tree-removal period, Jan 12- 20 2015

north view 164 Dec

BEFORE: looking north on 164th at 26th Ave, note telephone pole in foreground as reference, December 2014

north view 174 feb

AFTER: same location, two weeks after site preparation began. Many conifers in the background (to the north) will be removed when development #2 progresses. Surveyors are already on that property.

south face chen pole

BEFORE: Summer 2014, courtesy Google Earth. Looking south on 164th. You can barely see the home at the corner of 164th/26th in top right hand corner by telephone pole

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

south chen pole after

AFTER: same location, February 2015. You can clearly see the house now above the profile of the yellow machinery. Because the angle of the shot is not exactly replicated, the large conifer in the centre of the “Before” picture is the one at the top right hand side of this one, to the left of the machine.

wolff summer 2014 copy

BEFORE: in front of 2737 164th, summer 2014.

wolff 1

DURING: same location, a few days into the clearing in January 2015. Note the red arrow which points to a house on 165th St which was hidden by the trees in above photo.

Wolff 2

DURING: next day. No need for an arrow: there is the house.

wolff 3

AFTER: same house,after the clearing and before the road work begins

From a different angle, here is a view of the part of the development from the south.

jan 12 cropped sm

January 12, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

jan 20 cropped sm

January 20, 2015. Admittedly not as spectacular as a summer view would have been. Note: the distant trees to the right of the large centre conifer (not on the development property) will be removed when the approved development on 28th Ave (#2) begins.

If other GHSA members have their own “before and after photos”, please feel free to send them in to complete the record.

Other documentation behind the genesis of Morgan Crest and the next two annexed development acreages on 28th Ave:

 

Development Application 7913-0226

Member blog opinion about Application 7913-0226

Application 7913-0226 (Morgan Crest) tree removal plan

Application 7913-0226 tree re-planting plan

The continuation of the infill with Application 7914-0225

Member blog opinion about Application 7914-0225

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.