On Wednesday May 27th, the City of Surrey hosted an information meeting at Pacific Heights Elementary School about the proposed South Surrey Operations Centre. The Centre’s utility and its location, passed by Council in the 2010 Sunnyside Neighbourhood Concept Plan, is located off 24th Ave behind the existing Metro (GVRD) reservoir.

SS Operations Centre

Concerns from directly affected neighbours were voiced at this meeting. They ranged from

  • location (it will be situated in the midst of an area which is transitioning from low density to higher density residential and which will in the future house an elementary school)
  • traffic on 23rd Ave
  • interface with the new school
  • tree loss
  • lack of public process/information

To the last concern listed, that of public process, it should be pointed out that the Operations Centre has been targeted for this site since the NCP in 2010. For residents who purchased homes in the area without prior knowledge of the proposed Centre, this is understandably a surprise.   The GHSA can only offer the advice (gleaned from similar experience) that while Grandview is undergoing such massive growth, to always research the NCPs of the areas of prospective purchase in addition to information offered by realtors. This website offers tutorials on COSMOS, the City of Surrey Online Mapping system. Resources such as this can identify areas of future development.

To the other points of concern, as an information portal, the GHSA asked Robert Constanzo, Manager of Engineering Operations – City of Surrey – to clarify a few things about the Operations Centre.

Specifically, the questions we asked were:

– to clarify the need for an operations center in South Surrey (referencing growth and the need for maintenance in the area etc.)

– how the operations center will be a good neighbour to residents and the future school/parks

– how site layout may be modified with better buffering solutions

– how site layout may better preserve trees

Mr. Constanzo responded with the following letter which we post as way of information. We are told that once an architect is engaged to work on the actual site plans, these will be shared with us and in turn with you.

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The Need for a South Surrey Operations Depot – by Robert Contanzo, Engineering Operations Manager, City of Surrey

The Engineering Department’s Roads Maintenance group is divided into three distinct geographical areas to provide appropriate and timely coverage throughout Surrey for surface maintenance issues within City roads and rights-of way, including among others, road and sidewalk repairs; drainage maintenance, boulevard and ditch maintenance, litter and illegal dumping clean-up, wind storm management, and snow and ice control.

South Roads Operations has a coverage area extending from Colebrook Road to the south perimeter of the City. In 2005, the City sold its 1.2 acre South Surrey Engineering Depot site at 15948- 24 Avenue to facilitate a comprehensive development within the Grandview commercial corridor. Since then, South Operations Roads staff has temporarily been using space at the Central Operations Works Yard while searching for a new Engineering Operations South Surrey Works Yard depot site.

Parks Operations staff that maintain park infrastructure within the South Surrey area also presently function out of our Central Works Yard site. They are responsible for the maintenance of Surrey parkland throughout the South Surrey area.

The growth of roads, parkland and asset inventory in South Surrey has been dramatic over the past decade, exacerbating the amount of time required to travel to service these areas. The establishment of a South Works Yard is important to improve customer service to areas in South Surrey, and to improve the productivity and efficiency of the Roads and Parks operation staff.

A strategically placed South Surrey Operations Depot will significantly improve productivity and reduce operating costs for both the Engineering Operations and the Parks Divisions, benefiting all Surrey taxpayers.

How We Operate

We operate our facilities in a manner that respects our surroundings. We understand the importance of fostering positive relationships with all our stakeholders.   As a neighbour in your community, we would bring the values that we embrace here at the City:

  • Community: We care about and contribute to the broader well-being of the community. We strive to make Surrey a great place for our citizens to live, work, invest, recreate and raise a family.
  • Innovation: We welcome change. We actively look for leading-edge initiatives and welcome new approaches and original thinking. We are committed to continuous improvement; we recognize all experiences as important learning opportunities.
  • Integrity: We are honest. We are accountable for our decisions. We meet our commitments. We are forthright in our communications. We understand and comply with all laws, regulations and policies.
  • Service: Customers are important to us. We want to help our customers. We seek to understand our customers’ needs, and actively work to achieve responsive balanced solutions.
  • Teamwork: We support each other. We trust each other. We respect each other. We take a City-wide view of the challenges we face. We value everyone’s ideas, both internal and external to our organization.

We appreciate the concerns expressed by the neighbourhood. The City’s commitment is to take the necessary steps to minimize the environmental impacts of development by re-creating the natural environment to the extent possible in landscaping and drainage.

Access In and Out of the Site

The main access in and out of the facility will be from 24 Avenue. Deliveries to the facility will also occur off of 24 Avenue, i.e. mail, materials, etc. We have reflected in our plans that a secondary access will exist off of 23 Avenue. This secondary access will only be used intermittently for specific reasons, i.e. in the event of an emergency or if maintenance works are required within the immediate neighbourhood. Otherwise, very little to no traffic from our facility will be generated on 23 Avenue on a day-to-day basis.

Hours of Operation

The employees’ hours of work will range from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm Monday to Friday. Most of the employees will leave the site by 7:45 am in a City pick-up truck – these vehicles are fuelled by a combination of either gas or compressed natural gas (no diesel fueled vehicles will operate out of this facility).   Employees will be performing maintenance of our roads and parks throughout the South Surrey area throughout the day (away from the site). A few of these City employees may drop in and out of the facility at various times throughout the day to gather or drop off materials. Otherwise, there will be a few technical staff who will be working in the office building. Employees will drive back to the site near the end of the work day arriving at around 3:40 pm where they will complete their paper work before going home for the evening at 4:00 pm.

Tree Retention and Replanting

We will be retaining as many trees as possible in the vegetation buffers, replacing trees on site, and will apply a three-to-one tree replacement ratio to replant trees off site, (surpassing our two-to-one tree replacement policy). The City will plant upsized (large) trees along 23 Avenue to enhance aesthetics and provide optimum screening of the site. The site will be further screened by a decorative wall located along the property line behind the tree line.

Following our Public Open House Meeting of May 27th we received great feedback from residents with respect to our considering increasing the treed buffer along the south side of our property (fronting 23 Avenue) in an effort to preserving existing trees in this area and providing greater screening of the site.   We received similar comments with respect to altering the layout to ensure either greater retention of existing trees and/or more area within the site to replant trees.

In addition to the above, we also have a wonderful opportunity to provide enhanced planting of trees in the future park that will be developed adjacent to the future school site (west of 166 Street).

Other Environmental Considerations

The City will implement a drainage/wildlife corridor along the west frontage of the site. This corridor will be conducive to ensuring appropriate drainage while sustaining wildlife habitat and providing significant screening of the site from the west.

With respect to the building that will be constructed on site, the City’s goal is to achieve “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) certification for this facility. LEED is a rating system that is recognized as the international mark of excellence for green buildings in 150 countries. LEED works because it recognizes that sustainability should be at the heart of all buildings – in their design, construction and operation.

Next Steps and Contacts

The City is committed to reworking our site layout to ensure that we can deliver a solution that strikes a balance between our long-term operational needs with the needs of the community. To this end, the City will be communicating regularly with the community through direct mail correspondence and through the assistance of the Grandview Heights Stewardship Association.

If you have questions or comments regarding this development please don’t hesitate to contact any of the following City of Surrey representatives:

Rob Costanzo, Operations Manager:          604-590-7287 | RACostanzo@surrey.ca

Jeff Welch, South Surrey Roads Manager:             604-591-4243 | JAWelch@surrey.ca

Matt Brown, Superintendent:                      604-591-4847 | MKBrown@surrey.ca