Cheryl Chan, The Province
SOUTH SURREY — A proposed 250-truck parking lot touted to be a solution to Surrey’s big-rig parking crunch may not be all it’s cracked up to be, said critics.
Supporters of the facility eyed on land near 16th Avenue and 192nd Street say it’s desperately needed to tackle the city’s ongoing problem of homeless rigs — 1,300 of which were caught parked illegally this year.
But Brian Coote of the Friends of Hazelmere Campbell Valley says the mega-truck stop seems geared toward truck traffic from the U.S., not local truckers. “What we are finding out is that this seems designed to attract the high-end cross border trucking industry” including three large U.S. trucking firms, said Coote.
Applicants GG Holdings had suggested the parking facility, which would include washing facilities and mechanical and service bays could have a “strata-type” of ownership, said Coote, adding “the cost of this will still be beyond the means of independent Surrey truckers.”
The city’s truck parking data is outdated and relies on numbers from 2005, he added. According to his group, about 52 per cent of trucks fined in Surrey for illegal parking were not registered in Surrey.
The proposed project has drawn the ire of residents worried about the environmental risks the facility poses to the salmon-rich Little Campbell River and the Brookswood aquifer, which supplies water to parts of Surrey and Langley.
Hundreds turned up Sunday afternoon for a community meeting at the Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club, about 2,400 metres upstream from the proposed site.
“The danger of this proposed development would be the leaking of petrochemicals and other contaminants into the Little Campbell River,” said club president Bob Campbell in a video posted on the club’s website to raise awareness about the issue.
“We’re not convinced any amount of the assurances and engineered safety approaches would protect this river. At some point in the future, those would fail.”
A petition called Fish and Trucks Don’t Mix urging Surrey city council to reject the rezoning application has garnered almost 1,400 signatures.
The application, submitted in September, asked to rezone only four out of 32 acres from agricultural to industrial for a truck stop with 250 slots. But Coote said his group has learned this will only be the first phase of a larger project that would see up to 1,200 truck parking spots and a million square foot warehouse.
Critics also question why the project was “fast-tracked” and exempted from an ongoing local area plan for the neighbourhood.
One of the project’s proponents, Parm Garcha, told the Langley Advance last month that GG Holdings will address concerns “to the fullest” before moving forward.
The group has consulted with residents and stewardship groups, commissioned environmental and hydro-geological reports, and believes it can proceed while protecting the habitat, he said at the time.