More than 100 people packed an open house at the Tong Louie Family YMCA on Monday night to voice their objections to a townhome project planned for Panorama.
The development, slated for 5750 Panorama (just northwest of Highway 10 and 152 Street), is the proposed location of 181 townhomes and 106 apartments, as well as commercial developments.
Area residents are fed up and say area elementary and secondary schools are over capacity as it is.
Cindy Dalglish, who runs the website southnewtoncommunity.com, says the situation is unfortunate for the developer, because his timing is terrible.
“If he came two years from now when (more) schools are around, it (the development) would go through without a blip,” Dalglish said.
Laura Martin has a two-year-old at home and says she will soon be looking at kindergarten options. She objects to the development primarily based on how it will affect the already crowded schools in the area.
Steve Henderson, vice president of the Panorama Neighbourhood Association (PNA), said the 350-member community group also opposes the development.
“The neighbourhood association supports the school board to temporarily postpone development in South Newton, Clayton and Grandview,” Henderson said.
He said without schools specifically to support the new housing, the group will not stand quietly and allow the development to forge ahead.
Valerie and Henry Zea also oppose the development, partly because of the impact on schools, but also because of the stress it will put on other infrastructure such as roads.
Developer James Redekop, of Redekop Homes, said he understands the concerns of the community.
He said the idea is to phase in the towhhome development over four years, so the province can prepare for the incoming students by building new schools.
Two new elementary schools are coming further east to the rapidly growing Cloverdale community of Clayton, but the Surrey School District is still awaiting funding from the province to break ground. A new Clayton high school is not expected to open until 2018.
On April 21, the Surrey Board of Education voted unanimously in favour of a motion asking the City of Surrey to “temporarily suspend all new development approvals in the Clayton, Grandview/South Surrey and Newton regions until the Surrey School District receives adequate provincial funding to support the growing numbers of students moving into these regions.”
Trustee Laurae McNally noted Surrey is the province’s biggest school district and the overflow from currently crowded schools could easily fill 30 new schools immediately.
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner said freezing development is not the solution and worried such a move would jeopardize the city’s robust economy.
The Panorama development has not yet been before Surrey council, but will likely be the subject of a public hearing in the coming weeks.