A video aimed at Metro Vancouver board directors is being launched as a last-ditch opposition to the City of Surrey’s South Campbell Heights Local Area Plan.
The board meets this Friday (Jan. 28) to make a final decision on whether to approve the contentious plan to open the ecologically sensitive area for development. The proposal has been met with concerns from environmental groups such as the Outdoor Recreation Council of B.C. (in a report on the province’s ‘most threatened’ rivers) and the Semiahmoo First Nation.
The short, seven-minute video, created by the Friends of Hazelmere-Campbell Valley, outlines what it describes as the ‘Top Ten Reasons to Oppose the South Campbell Heights Local Area Plan’ – each backed by concise statements from known and respected environmental experts as well as area residents, and featuring vivid footage of the area in question.
Among other voices in the video is that of Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum himself – via media archival footage recorded during the 2018 election campaign – in which he describes a major plan for the Little Campbell River area contemplated by an earlier council as “dumb development” that, he notes, had had the community “up in arms.”
Proponents of the land-use change have said that redesignating the area will help address a “critical” shortage of industrial land in the region, create thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue, and that “every reasonable measure has and will be taken” to ensure responsible development.
In October, Metro Vancouver gave conditional approval to the city’s proposal, which includes extending the urban containment boundary and thereby opening the area up to commercial and industrial development; a move opponents maintain threatens not only the salmon-bearing river, but also the Brookswood aquifer.
Topping the list of reasons for opposing the plan outlined in the video is the potential danger to the health of the Little Campbell River – known by the Semiahmoo First Nation as Tatalu – which flows through the middle of the plan area.
Number two is that the aquifer, which sits directly below the more than 600-acre target area, is at risk.
“Thousands of people rely on this aquifer for drinking water,” says A Rocha Canada conservation science director Christy Juteau, who notes that it is rated “highly vulnerable to contamination” by BC provincial officials.
Third reason cited is that the plan will result in the loss of biodiversity and critical habitat.
Fourth reason, the video claims, is that reduction of natural forest within the area will be another carbon footprint factor affecting climate change.
The plan should also be opposed, the video argues, because of the practical lack of transportation infrastructure to support it.
Also argued in the video is that the plan will result in negative impacts to human health and agriculture; that it negates the point of Metro Vancouver’s urban containment boundary; that it affects reconciliation with indigenous population as a result of negligible consultation with the Semiahmoo First Nation, and that Surrey has not done appropriate environmental assessment of the impact of such development.