John McKitrick says he will fight to stop a proposed project on a portion of the golf course his home backs onto. (Photo: Amy Reid)

‘Once you pave a golf course, it’s gone forever’ says Surrey resident opposed to Anthem development

Residents vow to fight developer’s plan to turn portion of Coyote Creek golf course into 341 homes

FLEETWOOD — More than 100 people have signed a petition opposing a proposal that would see hundreds of homes built on part of the Eaglequest Surrey Coyote Creek golf course.

Longtime Surrey resident John McKitrick’s townhome backs onto the Fleetwood course, and the view from his deck is quiet and serene. Tall trees, shrubs and water elements abound.

He worries his view – along with the view of many of his neighbours – will be destroyed if the project goes through.

But their opposition stems from a lot more than the potential of losing a view. McKitrick pointed to congestion on local roads and stress on nearby schools the development would bring, as well as the impact on the environment.

“It would set a very dangerous precedent,” said the retired newsman.

“It’s going to affect so many people. I think the bottom line in all of this is Surrey calls itself the City of Parks. If they start ripping up a golf course, a park-like setting, for housing – that is a very bad step. They won’t be able to call themselves the City of Parks anymore.”

Anthem Properties Group seeks to turn a portion of the Coyote Creek course into 341 homes and has submitted a rezoning and development permit application to the City of Surrey. Proposed is a mixed-use development at 7778, 7858 and 7902 152nd Street.

The application includes 341 homes – including 62 apartments, 48 duplexes and 231 townhouses – as well as an amenity building and about 4,000 square feet of retail space.

Surrey city council has not yet considered the project.

City clerk Jane Sullivan said the application is in the “early review stages” and that details aren’t yet publicly available.

But Randene Neill, communications director for Anthem, provided the Now-Leader with additional details.

Neill said the entire site of the proposed development is 24 acres and that “a third of that site, almost eight acres, is going to be public use. So greenspace, pathways, we’re going to put a pond in there.”

She added that all the established trees will remain.

“And we’re planting way, way more. It’s going to be a very pretty development, if we get it approved.”

Neill noted that between the Sequoia community and Anthem’s proposed development, there will be a 33-metre wide greenspace.

“That’s going to be a trail for walking and running and bike riding,” she said.

“And something I think people in the neighbourhood are quite glad about is we’re proposing a new road that will go from Fleetwood to 152nd Street (through the current golf course). I think that’s going to be 77th.”

Meanwhile, Neill said the golf course is going to remain but will be a bit smaller, likely redesigned into either a 12-hole or nine-hole course.

A public information meeting was held Wednesday night at Guildford Golf Course, and Neill said it was the third held by the developer to hear what residents were happy about, and not happy about.

“The development team made adjustments based on their feedback (from the first two). This is the third iteration of listening to their concerns of what they liked and didn’t like,” she said. “I understand there’s going to be people who aren’t going to be happy. They had a golf course to overlook.”

According to Neill, the views “won’t be inhibited by our proposed development because they’re on a slope,” adding, “they’ll still have a clear view.”

Neill said Anthem is interested in open dialogue and communication with the neighbours.

“We want people to like us in their neighbourhood, we don’t want people to hate us.

“We do our best to be flexible,” she said.

But McKitrick said he will fight the proposal to the end, along with the two strata presidents in his Sequoia Ridge community.

He said it just doesn’t fit in their neighbourhood.

“It’s going to affect us very much here, but it’s also going to affect Surrey, for all these families up here (in Fleetwood), what’s going to happen to them with the schools? The traffic, et cetera, so we have a pamphlet we’re going to be handing out eventually to residents in the area beyond our spot, to golfers,” he said, noting the course was praised in a recent Vancouver Sun article titled “Surrey shines as Canada’s golf paradise.”

“And Surrey, of course, is scrambling to get more classrooms already because of the court ruling. Extra teachers, extra rooms,” noted McKitrick. “The trend is to blame Victoria for the schools but at the same time I think the municipality has to be taking part of the blame when they just allow all this construction without the school capacity to handle this. This is an absolute good example of it.”

To add insult to injury, 200 homes are currently under construction nearby, by McKitrick’s estimate, near 156th Street and 77th Avenue.

That’s 500 new homes in his “small, quiet corner of Fleetwood,” if the golf course proposal goes through.

“We need councillors to listen,” McKitrick stressed.

A flyer opposing the development says: “Choke local traffic. Overcrowd schools. Wreck the environment. Eradicate wildlife. Destroy property values. Will you let them?”

“We won’t allow developers to forever change our community for corporate greed,” it adds.

Ken McBain is president of the townhome strata in the Village of Sequoia where McKitrick lives.

“We don’t want to sound NIMBY,” he told the Now-Leader, “but when we bought into his place, and some of us have been here for 17, 18 years, we bought on a golf course. A beautiful golf course. We think, OK, primarily we wanted to see this when we woke up in the morning, or at night. To have a 40-acre backyard. And we’re taxed on having this view.”

The increase in traffic also concerns McBain.

“We already have 200 and some homes going in behind us,” he noted. “If we introduced 341 more homes, that could introduce about 1,500 new cars a day onto 152nd Street.”

He noted the road to extend 77th Avenue to 152nd Street, as proposed in the Anthem development, is at the bottom of a busy hill, and he worries about the already-congested road becoming even less safe.

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

golf

Ken McBain and Pat Rose, presidents of the two stratas in the Sequoia Ridge community, vow to fight a proposal at Eaglequest Surrey Coyote Creek golf course. (Photo: Amy Reid)

Pat Rose, president of the Bareland Strata within the Sequoia Ridge community, echoed McBain and McKitrick’s concerns.

“If you’re emptying hundreds of homes from the Fleetwood enclave at 6 o’clock in the morning, that’s going to be a terrible tie up on 152nd, which is already well beyond capacity.”

Rose said he’s also concerned about the loss of animal habitat.

“You can see raptors going across the course all the time. There’s a million geese down there. We see deer a lot as well.”

Both strata presidents said the development is not wanted by the residents.

“We want to defend it quite rigorously,” Rose said. “Once you pave over a golf course it’s gone forever…. We’ve got to fight and stop it.”

An online petition (at tinyurl.com/coyotecreekhousing) had 113 signatures as of Thursday morning.

amy.reid@ surreynowleader.com

 

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