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Frontage-road extension concerns South Surrey neighbours

Safety risks of increased traffic by opening up access from 8 Avenue a key issue
Maria Staunton, Hugh Rothe and Jan Emsley look at a proposal to extend 8 Avenue frontage road from 165A to 165 Street, a move they oppose due to safety and other concerns. (Tracy Holmes photo)

Residents of a quiet South Surrey neighbourhood say a plan to “punch through” a frontage road along 8 Avenue near King George Boulevard will impact safety, jeopardize a popular walking and cycling route and could affect property values.

Sheila Vataiki said she and her neighbours are organizing in an effort to convince Surrey council there are other options for the six-home development proposal that make more sense.

In addition sending letters to council members, nearly two dozen of the residents plan to be at city hall Monday, to express their concerns and ideas during a public hearing.

“Despite the fact that in the 30 years the neighbourhood’s been there, no one’s missed it, no one’s asked for it,” Vataiki said of an extended frontage road that currently, heading west, stops at 165A Street.

The city has received an application to rezone property at 16537 8 Ave. to single-family residential from one-acre residential, to enable a six-lot subdivision, with a portion of the site dedicated to the city for completion of the frontage road between 165 and 165A Streets.

“We don’t see why that has to happen,” Vataiki said.

According to a City of Surrey planning report that includes comments received prior to June 26, the frontage would have been completed nearly three decades ago, had the subject property been developed at the same tme as the neighbouring lots.

Vataiki, who moved to the area from Richmond a year ago, described it as “kind of the Norman Rockwell neighbourhood… just kind of a beautiful pocket of how it really should be” – with block parties, kids playing on the street and retirees who are “used to being completely safe.”

Maria Staunton said the no-through road is what drew her family to locate there.

“To have more traffic in the area would not be a good or safe thing,” she said.

Jan Emsley, who has lived in the neighbourhood for 26 years, agreed an increase in traffic is the biggest concern.

She said alternatives to be presented at city hall Monday include a suggestion to reduce the number of homes proposed to front on 8 Avenue to one from two; shifting one to front on 165A Street instead.

That home could then have access via 165 Street, and a number of trees on the site could be saved, Emsley said.

Both Vataiki and Emsley emphasized the residents aren’t opposed to development. But the pace and minimal consultation “seems a little ram, bam, thank you ma’am-ish,” Vataiki said.

According to the planning report, the city parks officials have concerns about the pressure the project will put on existing facilities.

The ministry of transportation and infrastructure has granted preliminary approval for the rezoning; direct access to 8 Avenue is not permitted, the report notes.

If approved, the applicant expects to have the homes ready for occupancy by next summer.

The residents said they were to meet with City of Surrey engineering staff Thursday, after Peace Arch News press deadline. Monday’s public hearing is set for 7 p.m. at city hall in North Surrey.

Tracy Holmes

About the Author: Tracy Holmes

Tracy Holmes has been a reporter with Peace Arch News since 1997.
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