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Campbell Heights plan unveiled

A controversial South Surrey development was unveiled to the public Tuesday, providing a glimpse at construction plans for Campbell Heights, an ecologically sensitive wetland.

The 200-acre second phase of development at the 192 Street and 24 Avenue former gravel pit has become home to several feeder streams for the fish-rich Little Campbell River.

The first stage of development received sharp criticism from environmental groups in past years, with the David Suzuki Foundation calling it one of the worst examples of salmon habitat destruction in the province. Only months ago, the Little Campbell River was named the 13th most endangered river in the province.

It’s against this backdrop that developers forge ahead with plans to build a huge business park near the river’s headwaters.

Ian Whyte, senior project manager for Envirowest Consultants Ltd., said the bulk of the river’s headwaters were created during work at the gravel pit.

“Historically, there were no water courses, there was no fish habitat in this area, with the exception of the Little Campbell River,” Whyte said.

The development group’s plan is to build a seven-hectare (17-acre) environmental area around the top end of the Little Campbell to create a more viable area for fish habitat than already exists.

“The gravel extraction lowered us down to the water table and created a bunch of man-made ditches, and Mother Nature naturalizes them and they take on some environmental value, but we can do better...,” Whyte said.

Deb Jack, president of Surrey Environmental Partners, said Thursday the argument doesn’t wash.

“For whatever reason, salmon went into whatever was there,” Jack said. “That now makes them salmon water courses.”

She believes the entire 200-acre area scheduled for development has environmental value and should be preserved.

kdiakiw@surreyleader.com

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