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‘Stop, look and listen’

Citizens trying to save the Little Campbell Watershed are asking developers and politicians to do three things before pushing ahead with Phase 2 plans: stop, look and listen.

“Stop development, look at the area and listen to the community,” said South Surrey environmentalist Ron Meadley. “And open up the plan for integration of development and maintenance of habitat.”

Meadley is among a group of citizens worried about development in Campbell Heights who organized an information meeting at the Semiahmoo Fish & Game Club last Thursday.

In 2003, the city authorized development of 200 acres of the area at 24 Avenue and 192 Street (also known as Stokes Pit). The resulting construction was characterized by the David Suzuki Foundation as one of the worst examples of salmon habitat loss caused by development.

Meadley and others want to see environmental damage caused during Phase 1 corrected before development continues, and Phase 2 plans reviewed – and modified if necessary – to ensure the best possible integration of environment and industry.

“The success of the first venture, from an environmental point of view, leaves a lot to be desired,” Meadley said.

“One consultant report I read indicated it was a moderately sensitive area. We don’t think so. We think it’s very sensitive. It requires a great deal of caution, rather than just going in, slashing down the trees (and) putting in big blocks of concrete.”

Damage noted to date includes the lowering of Latimer Lake, problems with well water, destruction of fish spawning and wildlife habitat, deforestation and wildlife destruction.

Meadley noted the same consultant firms that worked on Phase 1 are working on Phase 2.

Fellow activist Barry Dalziel said those plans indicate smaller, more numerous facilities, but no new study or review of the associated environmental impact.

“Phase 2, now, would destroy the aquifer and replace (it) with industrial,” said Dalziel, a South Surrey resident since 1977. “They’re talking about moving streams and developing ponds. It’s a Class A salmon habitat and they believe they can move the streams and restart the whole thing. Naturalists and environmentalists are looking at this and saying, ‘you must be crazy’.”

Dalziel said he is not typically an activist, but got involved in efforts to curb the destruction at Campbell Heights because “it’s just disgusting what they’re doing there, and there’s no reason for it at all.”

He noted efforts are underway to get a referendum on the issue together in time for the upcoming election. When one was organized regarding Sunnyside Acres, residents turned out in droves to ensure the site was protected.

“We’d like to do something similar,” Dalziel said. “The whole objective is to save the Little Campbell Watershed to prevent the destruction of that and to leave it in as natural state as much as possible.”

Meadley said he is “very hopeful” further damage can be averted and past damage corrected. He and Dalziel have been invited to meet with Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts today. They plan to discuss a mitigation plan for Phase 1 and concerns regarding Phase 2.

tholmes@peacearchnews.com

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