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EAC urges Surrey council to fast-track eco-study

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Prime ecologically sensitive land will be developed before a document designed to protect it is complete, environmental groups fear.

Members from Surrey's Environmental Advisory Committee (EAC) addressed council last Monday voicing concerns over the city's Ecosystem Management Study (EMS), a overarching document designed to protect environmentally sensitive areas in Surrey.

EAC vice-chair Bob Campbell said the committee has heard concerns from representatives of Surrey Environmental Partners and the David Suzuki Foundation.

"Surrey has some of the last (sizable) tracts of land that are going to be developed that hold very high environmental values," Campbell told council.

The committee sought input from staff and others to determine the veracity of the claims being made.

"We really felt there was a case to be heard," Campbell said.

The David Suzuki Foundation recommended ceasing development in the environmentally sensitive areas.

"Probably the only thing the city can do right now to ensure there are even remnants of ecosystems left to protect, both now and in the future, is to immediately prevent any further development from taking place on EMS identified sites or hubs," Campbell said the groups recommended.

Campbell said the EAC wouldn't go that far.

"We are not endorsing the statement that you stop all development, but we do believe that these policies and procedures should be in place and should be followed before development moves forward," Campbell said.

Mayor Dianne Watts said Friday she welcomed the EAC presentation, and would also like to hear from the David Suzuki Foundation at an afternoon session of council.

"It's really important to get as much input as possible," Watts said.

kdiakiw@surreyleader.com

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