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Surrey council approves 20 apartment buildings project in Newton

Project featuring 3,243 dwelling units at 7790 and 7850 King George Boulevard
Development application to build 20 low-rise apartment buildings at 7790 and 7850 King George Boulevard gets third-reading approval on Dec. 4. (Image: Dawson & Sawyer/Barnett dembek Architects Inc./

A huge residential development project for Newton got the green light from Surrey city council this week.

An application to build 20 low-rise apartment buildings in Newton at 7790 and 7850 King George Boulevard received third-reading approval by council on Monday night.

Crispen Development Ltd. and BCG Village Ltd. requested an amendment to the Official Community Plan in order to rezone six blocks of land from Manufactured Home Residential Zone to Comprehensive Development Zone in order for Dawson and Sawyer Properties Ltd. to develop the apartment buildings, with some to include commercial space on the ground floor.

The project features 3,243 dwelling units all told, with 449 units ready for occupancy in 2029, 405 units in 2031, 503 units in 2032, 502 units in 2033, 485 units in 2034, 446 units in 2036 and 453 units in 2037. Proposed are low-rise apartment buildings, three to six storeys high.

The 14.7-hectare (36.3 acres) site consists of two properties currently operated as Bear Creek Glen and Crispen Bays mobile home parks with 292 mobile homes between both sites. They’re fee simple lots, with the home owners paying a monthly pad rental fee to the owner of the property.

Coun. Gordon Hepner called it a “great” project, one he’s “excited” about.

“It’s tying in an area of the city that will be growing and bustling,” Hepner said, “and it will be on the BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) and it will tie this area right to downtown Surrey and I think that’s going to create a lot of economic activity and I think it’s going to create a lot of growth and I’m really excited about it and I’m looking forward to actually seeing this underway.”

Coun. Doug Elford echoed that. “This is quite a transformative project that we’re seeing in the heart of Newton and it matches everything that when we plan, we talk about densification along our transit routes and it’s quite important to be able to achieve this. I know these are very good builders and they respond quickly and they build quickly, which is something that we’re desperate for in our community.”

A City of Surrey report indicates that in keeping with city policy the applicant is “responsible for relocating the existing residents in an appropriate manner acceptable to the residents and council as well as complying with provincial regulations outlined within the Manufactured Home Park Tenancy Act.”

Thirty-four people indicated their support, three their opposition and three expressed concerns.

Prior to the public hearing that same night, council received eight pieces of correspondence in support, one opposed and two expressing concerns. One correspondent, G. Leering, a senior citizen living in an “affordable manufactured home” there, wrote to council that “close to 300 families, disabled individuals and seniors are being affected by this development project.

“The housing problem is seriously misunderstood by all levels of government. Building more homes and rental units, increasing density will not solve the housing problem. High density projects add more stress on limited resources such as our hospital, schools, law enforcement and road systems,” Leering wrote. “All levels of government talks about building more affordable housing, well we live in an ‘Affordable Housing Community’ which soon will no longer exist and we will become part of the unaffordability problem. The government does nothing to protect the existing affordable housing market.”

Leering lamented “The destruction of perfectly good homes for the sake of profit.”

A City of Surrey document indicates a legal and binding agreement has been entered between the applicant and all but two of the 292 owners/residents to purchase their manufactured homes, with the applicant anticipating current residents “will have vacated the subject site by late 2024 to 2028.”

According to the school district, approximately 427 school-age children are expected to reside at this development and the applicant projects, according to a City of Surrey document, that “the proposed development may actually reduce the number of students in this catchment by approximately 50-60 students over for the next six years as the existing 292 home owners move off the property” and further, the applicant anticipates it will take about nine years for the project to be in a “net positive student enrolment position.”

Of the 427, it’s expected 259 will attend Bear Creek Elementary and 97 will attend Frank Hurt Secondary School with the balance attending private schools, attending schools in other districts or being home schooled.

During the public hearing, Fleetwood resident Richard Landale questioned how all the vehicles from all those dwellings are going to access King George Boulevard. “This is crazy,” he said. “I think you have a real, real problem.”

“You’ve got to take this development back to the drawing board,” he urged council, “because you just cannot inundate King George that way. You have no means to improve traffic capacity without some incredible creativity by getting rid of the bus lane and bicycle lane.”

Later in the meeting, city staff told council there will be a full traffic signal at King George Boulevard and 78 Avenue as well as two additional accesses to the boulevard, and in the southeast corner there will be access to 76A Avenue leading to 138 Street. A Traffic Impact Analysis report indicates that the “total of all phases is anticipated to generate approximately 16-18 vehicle trips per minute during the peak hours.”

As for parking, the applicant proposes to provide “a rate of 1.1 parking spaces per dwelling unit, plus 0.1 visitor parking spaces per dwelling unit” and all parking will be underground in parkades secured by overhead gates.

“The applicant is also providing bike parking spaces for each apartment unit and the required 6 visitor bike parking spaces per building,” a report indicates.

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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