Bylaw amendments to facilitate the addition of more than 300 townhouses to South Surrey’s Grandview Heights neighbourhood received third reading at Surrey council Monday evening.
But the application by Woodbridge Developments (South Grandview) Ltd. for land in the 16300-block of 20 Avenue did not pass muster with at least one councillor, who voiced concern “because of the schooling situation in the area.”
In expressing opposition, Coun. Dave Woods acknowledged a mention by Mayor Linda Hepner of last month’s announcement regarding funding for a 300-seat addition to Pacific Heights Elementary and a new, 655-seat elementary school.
However, “I’ve been keeping track in the development in the Grandview area,” Woods said.
“According to my records, the amount of development permits that have been issued so far in that area basically account to 2,200 units: 396 houses – and of course, most houses all have secondary suites – townhouses, 1,110, and the apartments, 346.
“Now, we’re adding some more units. If there’s just one child out of half of those units, that’s 1,100 potential new students that are going to be in that area by September 2019.”
Woods was the sole councillor to vote against giving the requested amendments and development variance permit third reading. Couns. Judy Villeneuve and Mary Martin were absent.
Coun. Bruce Hayne, in voicing support for the project, noted its density is below what is allowed in the area. Contributions by the developer to pump-station funding “and so on… balance this particular application,” he said.
Prior to the vote, at a public hearing, Woodbridge CEO James Howard told council those contributions also include majority funding of a $70,000 playground for Pacific Heights Elementary, “substantial dedications” to the road network and a “significant extension” of the Grandview Ridge trail.
Howard said the pump-station contribution totalled $2.25 million, and that the majority of the townhouses – there would be approximately 127 in the first phase – would be three- or four-bedroom units with side-by-side garages.
“The project itself will provide critical housing for the classic missing middle that many of the municipalities in the Lower Mainland and the province had identified as a priority,” Howard said.
In response to a question from Hepner regarding an absent councillor’s previously voiced question whether Woodbridge would actually build and maintain the project, Howard confirmed that is the case.
“We have the financing already,” he said. “It’s our full intention to service the site and to build this first phase. We hadn’t thought yet of future phases beyond that, they’re not before us.
“The reason we’ve designed it without maximizing tandem homes is because we intend to build something that we believe in.”
One resident who spoke against the application expressed concern with the impact to trees, referring to a planning report that notes a $78,000 cash-in-lieu payment due to lack of room on the site to plant 195 of 336 replacement trees. He also cited concern with school space and transit.
Surrey Environmental Partners’ president Deb Jack noted the report was unclear as to where six mature trees earmarked for retention are located; it’s also unclear what the promised trail will look like, she said.
City staff clarified that the trail is to connect to the Pioneer Trail on the east side of the Fergus Watershed Biodiversity Preserve, and offered to meet with SEP representatives to share further details.