Is Cloverdale getting short shrift from this new Surrey city council?
That depends on your point of view.
Mike Bola, president of the Cloverdale Community Association, is perturbed that Mayor Doug McCallum aims to build a 2,200-seat stadium in Bear Creek Park in Newton after council decided on Dec. 19, in a five-four vote, to postpone a $44,500,000 Cloverdale Sport and Ice Complex. The city would pony up $7 million for a Bear Creek stadium, and seek additional funding from the federal government.
“It just goes to show where McCallum is willing to put his money,” Bola told the Now-Leader on Monday.
“The mayor is just looking after the Newton voters. We ourselves have said other town centres do need a facility as well, but building an international stadium is not going to be cheap. The rink which was promised by the previous council was already funded, and already in motion here and he purposely stopped this one and you know we thought there were other reasons for him to stop it but now this just goes to show that he has other agendas and one of them was to put a stadium here.”
Bola said a stadium in Bear Creek Park would cause more traffic congestion in Newton.
“They already have enough traffic issues there too, the roads can’t handle, you have 88th Avenue there which is already heavily packed at rush hour and what-not. There’s not enough parking there in the Bear Creek Park,” he said. “I think there should be a better location picked. We have the fairgrounds – he can put a stadium there if he wants to. We have lots of parking here that we can provide, too.”
Mike Bola, president of the Cloverdale Community Association. (Photo submitted)
Bola considers this scenario to be a slap in the face to Cloverdale.
“I think that he’s just punishing the Cloverdale residents because he didn’t receive any votes from Cloverdale — he did not receive any support, all of the votes went to Bruce Hayne and his team, and I think this is just a payback from his point,” Bola said of McCallum. “He’s just showing that he doesn’t care about the residents and how they are. To earn voter support you have to actually provide facilities, especially when they were already promised, they were already in motion.”
In the Oct. 20 election, in the race for mayor, Hayne received 6,499 votes in Cloverdale whereas McCallum came in second with 5,243 votes, and Tom Gill third with 3,533 votes. Conversely, in Newton, McCallum dominated the polls with 15,368 votes to Gill’s 8,217 and Hayne’s 5,213.
“I’m not going to make a comment on his personal comments,” McCallum said of Bola. “I never have in my whole political life, so I’m just not going to make any comments on his personal comments about me. As far as what the city’s doing, we’re going ahead with exactly what we campaigned on, throughout Surrey.”
As for the stadium in Newton, McCallum said, the northwest section of Surrey is “lacking in a lot of sports facilities and it certainly over the years has assumed the most of the growth over the last 15 or 20 years and we need more recreation and sports facilities in the northwest sector.”
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (File photo)
“We were very clear in our campaign on that,” McCallum said Tuesday, “and said that if we were to get elected, if the people of Surrey elected us, we were going to work towards building a track-and-field facility at Bear Creek Park, and that’s exactly what we indicated.”
Surrey Councillor Mandeep Nagra, of the Safe Surrey Coalition, says it’s “not true” that Cloverdale is being roughly treated by council.
“The election is over and now we’re working for all of Surrey, it doesn’t matter who voted for us,” he said. “We’re working for everybody.”
Councillor Brenda Locke, also of the Safe Surrey Coalition, dismisses the charge that Cloverdale is getting pay-back from the mayor.
“Yeah, no,” she said. “I don’t believe that to be true at all. No, I don’t think so. That’s just not true.”
But Bola isn’t convinced.
“That is the feeling that we’re getting right now, is that because Mr. McCallum didn’t get any votes from Cloverdale that he’s sort of ‘teaching us a lesson,’ if you want to call it.” he said.
“Clayton Heights was his start-up, back in early 2000,” Bola added. “Not very many people are very happy about what he did there, too. He didn’t leave off on a good foot back then and he hasn’t come in on a good foot either. He built up East Clayton. He was the mayor at that time, who started up the East Clayton project where we have all those coach homes, basement homes and the parking issues where he limited the parking.”
Locke was among the four councillors who cast a vote favoring the Cloverdale facility.
“I support the arena at Cloverdale,” she said. “I will continue to support the rink at Cloverdale and hopefully work with council when we start the next budget process, which I think is coming up, I think we start that as early as May of this year.
“I can absolutely tell you that I will still be putting up my hands for Cloverdale, and that arena,” Locke said. “I understand how disappointed they were and I know there are others on council that are also concerned and hoping to bring back the Cloverdale arena so hopefully that will happen in the next budget where we can have another conversation about that. It’s a five-year rolling budget, but every year we re-address.”
Locke said that, for her, that’s “going to be a priority, that’s for sure.
“It was a five-four vote and so that was disappointing for them, disappointing for me. I know there’s a commitment to re-look at it.”
Bola says the Cloverdale Community Association is “putting to the test” the Safe Surrey Coalition-dominated city council’s campaign promise to pause land development and vows his group will oppose project proposals that put more burden on the community’s infrastructure.
He says his association is still seeing “standard development” in Cloverdale and Clayton Heights. “We just want to understand what happened about their promise? They said they were going to pause it and they haven’t done it.
“We need to see more infrastructure starting up,” Bola said. “The infrastructure has not kept up and now it’s mayor and council’s job to follow through with their promise.”
The new council was elected on Oct. 20 and was sworn in on Nov. 5, 2018. Locke said city council is concerned about pressures on infrastructure and as far as land development applications before council, she added, “We did send back actually I think it was two developments to staff, in the Clayton area.
Surrey Councillor Brenda Locke. (Photo submitted)
“There is a concern; I can tell you that all of the councillors are asking a lot of questions about issues especially around schools, school allocations, and what is becoming overcrowding in our schools so there is no doubt about that, and we’re going to be meeting with the school board and I think it’s this month,” Locke told the Now-Leader on Monday.
“We’re meeting with the school board to actually talk about that allocation. The school board allocates the number of students, not the city. So we want to talk to the school board about that, and the overcrowding in schools because we’re all very concerned about the number of projects coming forward.”
The Safe Surrey Coalition’s election campaign website states that “in far too many cases new developments aren’t effectively connecting their new residents to schools and transit. Many recent developments have also increased road congestion and caused longer commutes for existing residents.
The literature adds that the coalition, if elected, would “pause development and introduce smart development guidelines. Smart development creates connected communities: connected to schools, transit, health care, community supports, arts & culture, sports facilities, nature, shopping, and a sufficient road network.”
McCallum also said during the election campaign that if he and his team are elected they would “pause development” and “turn to smart development.
“Smart development means densifying along corridors,” he explained.
Bola told the Now-Leader that his group of about 100 members, a “mix” of individuals, businesses and community groups “from all over Cloverdale,” is prepared to stage protests at public hearings, and launch media campaigns when council strays from its promises, which he says it already has.
“We will be looking at things case by case as well. That’s what we’re to see, is will mayor and council move forward with their election promises and right now so far they’ve failed, because they’ve allowed some developments to go through since they came into power,” Bola said. “What infrastructure are they allowing to catch up in Cloverdale that’s allowing them to still put developments through?”
“We already got commitments from a lot of people that say whatever you need to do from us.”
This will be the Cloverdale Community Association’s position heading into the foreseeable future, Bola said, “until we start seeing any advancements in infrastructure such as road widening, more schools and a hospital. Everybody’s waiting for a walking track, a pool, an arena, those type of things that we have worked very hard to try to get. If you’re going to push those back, push everything back along with it then. We should be meeting in the middle ground here when it comes to this kind of stuff.”
“We’re non-partisan, but at the end of the day this is an issue for us. It seems like we’re being left behind,” Bola said. “They want to create housing, but they’re not providing facilities for the youth to go to.”
Is Cloverdale Community Association’s shot over council’s bow resulting from the rink postponement?
“This will be one of the reasons, yes,” Bola said.
“This thing with the arena was one of the stepping stones to set up a good relationship, which didn’t go very well,” he said.
“From the previous council we were getting commitments for infrastructure such as the arena, which was badly needed, and now that we’re seeing that’s being put on hold because they’re saying that’s not a town centre, the only investment we’re seeing is the Surrey centre still. Cloverdale’s being put on hold yet they’re allowing developments to still go through. So where is that balance, is what we wanting to know?
Bola said his group is still willing to support rental housing projects, and housing on transit corridors like Fraser Highway or 72nd Avenue, “but places where there’s no transit nearby and we’re just putting up townhouses or houses there just doesn’t make any sense.”
Surrey Councillor Mandeep Nagra. (Photo submitted)
Nagra, meantime, insists that improving infrastructure is a priority for council. “That’s what we talked about during the campaign, that we’re going to build infrastructure as well and we are planning to build needed infrastructure before any development.”
As for building a stadium in Bear Creek Park, but postponing the Cloverdale project, he said,“We gotta look at where the demand is.
“The demand for ice sheets is declining, and not just in Surrey, it’s all over Canada. Numbers are going down. At the same time, the demand for track-and-field, football, baseball, soccer, it’s on the incline. So that’s what we’re doing, we’re listening to the people, and we’re building what the people of Surrey want.”