Surrey’s Safe Surrey Coalition majority on council has rejected a Metro Vancouver request for Surrey to accept its regional growth strategy, arguing it doesn’t give due consideration to the city’s limited land supply coupled with escalating land costs to accommodate employment growth.
“Metro’s trying to control Surrey,” Mayor Doug McCallum charged. “Other mayors from other cities in Metro are trying to control Surrey and again our residents are saying we don’t want that, we want to do the controlling ourselves.
“We’re going to send the message back to Metro that it’s our cities that do the planning for our city in Surrey,” he said.
Jeff Arason, Surrey’s acting general manager of planning and development, explained the city’s objection in a corporate report that came before council on Monday, June 13.
“Specifically, the City does not accept provisions in Metro 2050 on the basis that the current UCB” or Urban Containment Boundary “does not appropriately consider Surrey’s context and the need for additional industrial lands in the region,” Arason wrote.
Councillors Linda Annis and Steven Pettigrew voted against the move, with Pettigrew voicing concern about ecological damage in Surrey, the water table being “stressed out,” and the potential for an increase in Metro-related taxes. Councillors Jack Hundial and Brenda Locke were absent.
McCallum and councillors Doug Elford, Mandeep Nagra, Laurie Guerra and Allison Patton voted to reject Metro’s request.
“We want to be in charge of our lands,” Patton said, while Nagra said it’s his hope “that our friends in Metro understand what Surrey’s all about and what our needs are here, especially in terms of our industrial lands. We have huge shortages; our jobs are going to other municipalities, we’re losing jobs every day to other municipalities like Abbotsford and Chilliwack just because we don’t have enough industrial land.”
Elford also weighed in.
“I’ve long been concerned about the creep of Metro’s influence into other communities, and particularly in Surrey, and the planning process it’s very challenging to have directors from other parts of the region try to tell us how to develop our city,” he said.