SURREY — Some South Surrey residents awoke to the sounds of machinery Monday morning.
Their concern was immediate. After all, their little slice of paradise is home to sensitive, high quality habitat.
After a little investigation, they realized the racket was trees coming down near the red-coded Barbara Creek, which is potentially inhabited by salmonids year round.
“This is the highest protection designation,” said Pamela Possell of red-coded runs. “They logged all the way down.
“There’s great winged owls in there, eagles, deer,” she added. “There were so many animals living in there.”
Possell said she believes this never would have taken place under former Mayor Diane Watts.
“The mayor we have right now? What a joke. This is under her watch.”
Possell’s sister Lesley Ford also lives nearby.
“I’m surprised that they’re allowed to cut right down. There are so many old world trees in there,” said Ford. “They’re going to cause a lot of erosion and there were a lot of animals living there. I’m shocked. It’s just a shame the way the City of Surrey is handling the situation.”
(Video shot by sisters Possell and Ford).
A 57-unit townhouse development is planned for the site, at 15005 36th Ave., and the property was rezoned from general agricultural to comprehensive development.The application also required an amendment to the West Rosemary Heights Neighbourhood Community Plan to adjust the boundaries of the existing cluster housing and preservation/open space area designations to reflect the development footprint.
The applicant has received a tree cutting permit for 50 trees for the eastern portion of the site where drainage work is being done.
All 56 of the Alder and Cottonwood trees will be removed at the site. And of the other trees (Grand Fir, Douglas Fir, Western Red Cedar and Western Hemlock), five of the 145 on the property will be saved. The developer will plant 164 replacement trees, according to city documents.
Surrey’s manager of planning Jean Lamontagne said city staff visited the property Monday and said the work being done is “within the permits approved.” He added that in the city’s approval process, the creek was considered.
Lamontagne noted that as part of the development the landowner will be giving about 14 acres of high quality environmental land to the city for conservation and park purposes. Of 249 trees on that part of the property, 235 will be retained.
City council granted first and second reading for the application in July 2015. At that time, they asked that a number of issues be resolved including a hydrological report assessing the impact of the development on the adjacent riparian area, a report documenting how the developed site will preserve and protect the viability of the site’s regional habitat corridor along the south side of the Nicomekl River, and a Bald Eagle Nest Management Plan.
Then, at the project’s public hearing on Sept. 14, 2015, council referred the development back to staff to address concerns regarding slope stability, health of the remaining trees on the floodplain, loss of green space and the project’s environmental setback. Staff said in a subsequent report that the issues were addressed to their satisfaction.
None of this is comfort for Ford, who says her South Surrey community is not the same one she moved into 14 years ago.
“It’s everywhere,” she said of development. “It’s terrible, they’re decimating what was so nice about where we live. The new people (city council) are destroying Surrey.”
The Department of Fisheries and Oceans told the Now they received reports from the public concerned about the potential impact of construction activity at the site.
“DFO is looking into the matter,” said Michelle Rainer with the DFO, but the ministry’s findings were not available by the Now’s press time.