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With SkyTrain coming, Surrey community groups push for balance between development, amenities

THIRD IN SERIES: Community builders along future SkyTrain line call for more accessible neighbourhoods
A sign for the City of Surrey’s Clayton Community Plan along Fraser Highway, pictured on July 30, 2022. City council recently approved stage one of the plan. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

This is the third part in our four-part series on the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension.

To read the first part, “What are the next steps for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain project?”, click here.

To read the second part, “The goal is ‘not to recreate Fleetwood’ with Surrey-Langley SkyTrain: BIA executive director,” click here.

With major construction for the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension set for 2024, the City of Surrey is focusing on the Fraser Highway corridor – specifically in Clayton and Fleetwood.

Just last week, at the July 25 regular meeting, Surrey city council approved stage one of the city’s “Clayton Corridor Plan.”

READ ALSO: City approves initial phase of Clayton Corridor Plan, July 29, 2022

That plan, which includes parts of East Clayton, West Clayton and North Cloverdale, includes the draft vision and objectives, plan boundaries and the development expectations policy.

The draft vision statement, according to the city, is that the “Clayton Corridor is a sustainable community that is inclusive, integrated, and diverse. Known for its varied housing, the area includes compact walkable neighbourhoods with community amenities and services locate within convenient distance of residents. Clayton is celebrated for its range of housing options, character, thriving mix of local and neighbourhood businesses, and its livability.”

That’s part of what Manny Chehil is wanting as well.

Chehil is president of the New Clayton Community Association, which he said was created from “something pretty simple.”

The focus is on affordability and community amenities, he said.

“Go ahead, develop,” said Chehil, who has been a Realtor since 2002. “Do the things that need to be done, create housing, create affordability. It’s part and parcel to what you need to do. I get it. But not just willy nilly – let’s have some focus.”

Chehil estimates there are 277 members in the association, and he says all are supportive of the SkyTrain extension.

“We are not fighting the fact that development’s coming,” he said. “Let’s be straightforward, they’re supportive for a few reasons. but mostly they’re supportive because their lands benefit – and that’s fine.

“I can fully appreciate that you’ve lived here for maybe 20 years and you bought that piece of land at a couple of hundred grand, and when the day comes that you decide to sell, you’re going to come into a lot of money and that’s a good thing.”

However, he said there’s a balance that must be found.

“You want to leave a community as a well-functioning one. So that’s the part that we try to help instill in the membership too. We still need parks. We still need these things, so you can’t just keep fighting for density without the balance.”

While Chehil said he doesn’t have a problem with a building going “way up high,” there better be amenities in return.

“We have a rec centre up here, but it’s bare bones. We don’t have a place to swim,” he said, adding there are also plans for more ice rinks in Cloverdale.

“That’s nice, but can we build those things into the community here as well. Those are the kinds of things and amenities I would like to see.”

“There’s not many people who are going to say no to a swimming pool, no to an ice rink. Let’s be honest, that’s good for a community.”

He said he hopes communities will follow the 15-minute city concept. According to, the concept is to design “access-focused” areas.

“For me, I would love to see streets where it was pedestrian-only or pedestrian-only in the evenings when you don’t have much traffic. Why are we not using that to build more community?”

Chehil said he’s been watching the Fleetwood Plan and said he thinks that concept “works” and it should just be extended through Cloverdale

Stage 1 of the Fleetwood Plan, which was endorsed by council on March 7, has a vision for “an inviting community, home to people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds. Known for its arts scene, history, distinctive parks, natural areas, and exceptional community facilities. Fleetwood is celebrated for its distinctive urban village character, thriving local businesses, and its livable and accessible neighbourhoods.”

According to the city, key features of the plan include the “community’s preferred approach to focus on growth along Fraser Highway, with a “high street” along 160 Street and an employment district around 166 Street.

Dean Barbour, executive director of the Fleetwood Business Improvement Association, said his approach has been focusing on how to make Fleetwood – specifically around 160 Street – “the heart of the city.”

“How do we make this walkable, accessible, lively, attractive. How do we build together an opportunity to make this a onestop – not necessarily a one-stop shop – but an opportunity to grow this area to make sure that everything is within what we now call the 15-minute neighbourhood,” said Barbour, who works closely with the Fleetwood Community Association.

Ken Krasnikoff is a member of the Cloverdale Community Association, which also includes Clayton Heights.

Calling the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain a “wait-and-see” project, he said it was a “logical” extension compared to LRT, but now his concern is how Cloverdale will be connected to the new line.

“I don’t know whether SkyTrain is going to impact this area as much as it will up there (in Clayton) because, obviously, it’s not coming through here.”

Krasnikoff said he hopes there are connecting buses.

“Let’s face it, if you can take a bus or even walk up to the SkyTrain station and zip into Vancouver without having to stop at intersections like the LRT was proposing, it’s going to be quicker. I think it definitely will increase the population of Surrey because we have still quite a bit of developable land in around Clayton and Fleetwood area.”

But he wonders what that development will look like. “I pose the question: Is there going to be any sort of single-family dwellings anymore through there? The cost of land, the cost of servicing is just driving the density higher and higher and higher.”

NEXT WEEK: In Part 4 of our series, we examine the perception many people have that SkyTrain stations attract crime.

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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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