Metro Vancouver’s regional planning committee will likely hear an array of differing views on Surrey’s latest plans for South Campbell Heights – which include re-designating 242 hectares on the South Surrey-Langley Township border as ‘employment lands’ and extending the urban containment boundary by a further 23.7 ha.
Among those scheduled to address the committee meeting on Friday (Oct. 8) is Surrey Board of Trade president and CEO Anita Huberman, whose organization has come out solidly in favour of the plan.
Offering another viewpoint will be David Riley, president of the Little Campbell Watershed Society, whose members oppose the plan due to concerns that environmental risks of building out the area – bounded by 20 Avenue to the north, 196 Street to the east, 8 Avenue to the south and approximately 186 Street to the west – have not been adequately studied.
In a pre-meeting media release, Huberman lauded the economic and financial benefits of the plan.
“The proposed development of South Campbell Heights in Surrey is important to the Metro Vancouver region because of industrial land creation, new jobs and businesses as well as international co-location opportunities,” she said. “This benefits all cities.”
She cited the potential of more than 8.5 million square feet of building area, the creation of up to 20,000 jobs, and tax revenues for the city of $17-$18 million which could be reinvested in the city and the region.
She also noted that 35 per cent of the area in question is to be set aside as a conservation area – which she described as “one of the highest ratios in all of Canada.”
But Riley told Peace Arch News that he is concerned that there has been little or no attention paid to the environmental impacts that development of the rest of the land will have on fish and wildlife – both in the area and across the region.
“Surrey did a study in 2018 (at the time of the first attempt to re-designate the lands),” he said. “That was essentially an ‘information gap’ study – it gave us some goalposts to aim at, but it wasn’t enough then and it isn’t enough now.”
In the interim, he said, Surrey hasn’t done any study of the impacts.
“The paradigm is ‘we’ll decide if we’re going to do it and then fix whatever problems there are as they arise.’”
He said that while Metro Vancouver refers to its overall plan as a ‘2040’ plan he believes the Little Campbell watershed “won’t see 2040 with any biological health, if we continue as we are now.”
“If we’re doing all the right things environmentally, how come the outcomes don’t show it?” he said.
“When people say ‘we’ve taken care of all the environmental concerns’ – the people saying that, can’t say it in good faith.”
Also scheduled to speak are Langley’s Dr. S.K. Stepney, wildlife biologist Sofi Hindmarch, Beedie president Todd Yuen and Channel Consulting principal Tegan Smith, while Surrey’s community planning manager, Preet Heer, and utilities manager, Yonatah Yohannes, will make an ‘invited presentation.’
While committee recommendations will be referred to the Metro board’s Oct. 29 meeting, a final decision on the matter will likely be made in early 2022.
Metro officials have noted that this week’s meeting is not a public hearing, and only those who have already requested to be a delegation will have the opportunity to comment.
To watch the livestream of Friday’s meeting, visit metrovancouver.org
– files from Tracy Holmes