South Surrey residents try to slow Semiahmoo Town Centre plan

Resident association says it needs more time to collect feedback from locals

Members of the Semiahmoo Residents Association are requesting that the City of Surrey delay its plan for the Semiahmoo Town Centre because residents are “just realizing what’s going on.”

The plan, which is an update of the city’s 2012 plan, sets up for concentrated development up to 24-storey towers in the Semiahmoo Shopping Centre property. The current plan, which was endorsed by council in 2012, allows tower height up to 36 storeys.

The city has been working on the new draft plan since last year. In that time, the city has held two workshops, three open houses and conducted four online surveys. This year, the city mailed approximately 18,000 letters advertising the open house events.

After Peace Arch News published an article outlining the plan last week, which is near its final form, the Semiahmoo Residents Association contacted PAN and wrote a letter to the city planning department with a number of concerns and requests.

In the letter, the SRA asked for the city to host a ‘town hall-style’ meeting; requested an extension to the closing date of an online survey; and asked for more time before the plan goes to council, which is planned before the new year.

The latter request, SRA wrote, is so that the organization can “hear from residents and evaluate their concerns about the policies in the plan, and discuss these with staff on their behalf.”

“Our experience have shown that there is more power in a group approach than an individual one.”

SRA members Rosaleen MacFadden, Rosemary Zelinka and Barbara Paton came to the PAN office Thursday to “amplify” their letter to the city.

RELATED: New ‘downtown’ plan for South Surrey near final form

LETTER: Semiahmoo Residents Association calls for town-hall style meeting on Town Centre plan

One of the concerns was that the city’s plan lacks residential protection from overlooking and overshadowing.

“The SRA is still gathering information on these concerns, before taking a position on their merits,” the letter states.

The letter also takes issue with the city because some residents have become “frustrated” that public input opportunities have all been on a one-to-one basis, through online surveys or at open houses.

“There is considerable interest in holding a town hall-style meeting where residents can learn through the concerns of others, and there can be an open discussion on the pros and cons of the issue,” the letter states.

Zelinka said the organization wishes to hear from residents that live near the Semiahmoo Town Centre.

“We don’t want to be in a position of saying we don’t like things,” Zelinka said. “We are still hearing from people.”

City of Surrey community planning manager Patrick Klassen told PAN Thursday that the city decided on an open house-style consultation because the format supports in-depth, one-on-one conversations with residents.

“Open houses like that are really good at supporting direct resident interaction and they enable seldom-heard voices to participate by removing platforms for special interest groups or lobbying and so-forth. It really allows residents to ask questions, get answers, express their concerns and to have those conversations that are quite absent from other formats,” Klassen said.

Klassen said he offered to meet with SRA to hear their concerns – which the group confirmed to PAN – but he had not yet received a response.

Throughout the public engagement process, Klassen said, the SRA was “directly” invited to the open house events and an one-on-one stakeholder meeting.

“To date, the letter we received last week was the first formal letter we have received from them,” Klassen said.

Klassen said it’s important to note what changes the city has made from the 2012 Semiahmoo plan.

He noted that the city has scaled back the available area for highrises, brought down maximum building heights, provided clearer transition of density from the core to the rest of neighbourhood and added plans for future rapid bus service.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society doing ‘better than we were expecting’ amid COVID-19

At one point, the board thought it might have a donation shortfall of $250,000

Delta artist John Horton named to Order of British Columbia

Honour for significant contributions made to the appreciation and safety of B.C.’s coastal history

Man arrested in ‘after-hours club crackdown’ in Whalley, Surrey RCMP say

Police say they received information about clubs, parties ‘springing up’ at commercial properties

Former White Rock mayor, MP shares community connections via YouTube

Gordie Hogg aims to highlight those who’ve impacted South Surrey, White Rock

53 new COVID-19 cases, no new deaths cap off week of high infection rates in B.C.

Roughly 1,500 people are self-isolating because they either have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it

Unofficial holidays: the weird and wonderful things people celebrate around the world

On any given day of the year, there are several strange, silly or serious holidays to observe

Fraser Valley Bandits advance to CEBL Championship Game

Bandits post comeback 76-75 win over Hamilton Honey Badgers in Saturday’s semifinal

IHIT on scene of suspicious early-morning fire on rural Mission property

Entrance to Gunn Avenue property cordoned off while investigation takes place, updates coming

Moving on: Tanev scores 11 seconds into OT as Canucks oust Wild

Vancouver beats Minnesota 5-4 to move into first round of NHL playoffs

FURTHER UPDATE: Body removed from Maple Ridge hotel after large police presence

A large contingent of Mounties were at the Art Infiniti Hotel Friday afternoon and evening

Gene editing debate takes root with organic broccoli, new UBC research shows

Broccoli is one of the best-known vegetables with origins in this scientific haze

3 Vancouver police officers test positive for COVID after responding to large party

Union president says other officers are self-isolating due to possible exposure

New mothers with COVID-19 should still breastfeed: Canada’s top doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam made the recommendation during World Breastfeeding Awareness Week

Most Read