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EDITORIAL: Hey, Surrey, what’s the hurry on South Campbell Heights development?

Any proposal unable to withstand a bit of scrutiny should raise red flags

Any proposal unable to withstand a bit of scrutiny should raise a whole set of red flags.

At Metro Vancouver’s meeting last Friday, speaker after speaker shot holes in a Surrey staff report on the plan to allow light industrial development in the environmentally-sensitive South Campbell Heights area of South Surrey.

The Surrey report claims Metro Vancouver’s water and sewage systems are capable of accepting such development. Opponents pointed to a Metro Vancouver report that it will push facilities to the limit.

The report claims the proposed development will be close to transit. Opponents noted transit plans Surrey is citing are for a decade or more in the future.

The report also offers a meeting of Surrey council and the SFN council, yet to be held, as evidence of consultation already done.

Almost half of the Metro Vancouver directors voted against endorsing the plan, evidently convinced that environmental risks needed a lot more study.

Yet just over that number – by a slim four-vote margin – remained unmoved by the pleas of Semiahmoo First Nations Chief Harley Chappell and environmental experts and passed the motion, removing the area from Metro’s urban containment boundary.

The Surrey report came winging back to Metro Vancouver less than a month after directors had voted to have its staff consult with Surrey on multiple concerns raised by the plan.

There was no secret about the haste to get the plan back on Metro’s agenda – it was the last chance it could be considered under Metro’s 2040 strategy.

Not lost on anyone was that the new Metro 2050 strategy has far more stringent language on environment protection, limiting urban sprawl, and the need for consultation with First Nations.

The Metro Vancouver decision to re-allocate South Campbell Heights lands will bring a lot more jobs and business to Surrey.

It’s also a fact that property values in the area have received a huge boost.

One can only wonder whether history will say the gains were worth the losses.

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