SURREY COUNCIL: Residents can’t sway city about Fraser Heights development

‘Astounded’ by opposition, Villeneuve suggests more consultation with community but Surrey council OKs application

A proposed development in Fraser Heights

A proposed development in Fraser Heights

SURREY — A controversial Fraser Heights development received the initial nod from city council Monday night, despite considerable public opposition.

Developer Canadian Horizons wants to build 49 single-family homes in Fraser Heights (on 17855, 17845, 17821 and 17795 Barnston Dr. East, and 9849, 9863 and 9873 Lyncean Dr.). To proceed, an OCP amendment from suburban to urban is required, along with rezoning one portion of the site from one-acre residential to comprehensive development and another to single family residential.

Fourteen people spoke against the application Monday and another 89 signed up as opposed, not wishing to speak. Fifteen people wrote in favour, not wishing to speak, and three spoke in favour.

“There’s a feeling that the developer’s desires for profit and the residents whose properties are being sold for development are driving a continual push to up the density to the detriment of the current residents liveability,” Fraser Heights resident Heather Nordinc told council Monday night.

Nordinc said the neighbourhood has always had “a wonderful, safe, family-oriented” culture.

“Packing it with high-density houses will negatively impact that culture,” she said.

“I did not choose to buy in Clayton Heights or Walnut Grove.”

Tree loss was also a concern in the public hearing.

“The decision that you’re going to make on this may only take a moment but you’re going to affect these people for the rest of their lives,” said Ed MacIntosh, president of Fraser Heights Community Association. “I ask you to take that into consideration when you consider we urge you… to refer this back.”

Nathan Hildebrand with Canadian Horizons told Surrey council public consultation began in the fall of 2014 and said the application “100 per cent adheres to recently-approved Abbey Ridge Local Area Plan, with respect to land use density and layout.” The LAP was approved just two weeks earlier.

Nathan Hildebrand with Canadian Horizons told Surrey council public consultation began in the fall of 2014 and said the application “100 per cent adheres to recently-approved Abbey Ridge Local Area Plan (LAP), with respect to land use density and layout.”

The LAP was approved just two weeks earlier.

Councillor Bruce Hayne said “this one is a difficult one.”

“Here is a Local Area Plan that has been so recently completed and yet there seems to be such community opposition to that (LAP) and I find that unfortunate because I know that staff are certainly always dealing in good faith and trying as much as possible to be inclusive and consultative with the process.”

Councillor Tom Gill said he is “supporting this application.”

“There is a division in the community and I think that staff have had a difficult time in finding a resolution that would fit all,” said Gill. “In fact I think if you’re looking at the number of revisions… I think there’s been a tremendous amount of work and I don’t see the benefit of sending this back.”

Gill noted there are lots similar in density already in Fraser Heights.

“I will supporting this application. I think we’ve done a tremendous amount of work on this,” he added.

Councillor Judy Villeneuve said she initially agreed with Gill but was “astounded” by the level of opposition during the hearing.

“I think it would just be worthwhile to take a couple of weeks to consult with some of those people who were here tonight to see if there couldn’t be some kind of compromise that would send an indication that they’re willing to work with council,” she said.

Villeneuve also voiced concern over the lack of shopping and transportation in the area as it begins to densify.

“I’m not quite sure how to resolve that, but I’d like, just in good faith to try one more opportunity with the community.”

Villeneuve said, “to be very honest” city council amends community plans fairly often.

“It’s not carved in stone. It is a public process and we wait to hear from the public.”

Villeneuve made a motion to refer the matter back to staff for more consultation but it failed. The application passed third reading with the unanimous support of council, including Villeneuve.

“This should not have come as a surprise,” Mayor Linda Hepner said, referring to the decision in the wake of the Abbey Ridge LAP, adopted just weeks before.

“I wish I believed that sending it back would make a difference in the community but I believe the community wants it to stay the way it is,” Hepner added. “I’m not sure that that would ultimately produce a result that we would be any more comfortable with, but I do regret the fact that so many people showed up tonight. There has to be something we were missing throughout that (LAP) process.”

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com