Existing areas need attention
A report recently released by the City of Surrey claims that its growth strategies, which “involve continued construction in Grandview and Campbell Heights,” are bolstering the economy. This is far from true.
According to the 2012 capital construction program, Surrey plans to invest more than $120 million into roads. The road capacity-challenged City of Vancouver, by comparison, will invest less than one-third of that amount on roads this year.
A large amount of these expenditures would be completely unnecessary if Surrey focuses new development in existing areas as opposed to undeveloped “new communities.”
Clayton and Grandview Heights stand out as the biggest examples of new development, and will be soon joined by Anniedale, Tynehead, and a number of other planned new communities. At the same time, development on a Newton Town Centre revitalization plan has been halted and no such plan accompanies the Guildford area, despite a mall redevelopment and several undeveloped lots in the middle of the urbanized area.
Transportation improvements to these new areas come at the expense of needed improvements in existing areas. A stretch of 96 Avenue east of 152 Street was recently widened to four lanes. This was completely a result of a need to service upcoming development in the Tynehead and Anniedale communities. The money spent on widening 96 Avenue should have been allocated to much more necessary improvements on 104 Avenue, a transit and commercial corridor that faces the largest congestion growth rate of any road in the city.
Clayton was at least developed on a frequent transit corridor; however, it still faces a number of challenges. A small-sized elementary school in Clayton that existed before development now needs to service more than 900 students. The rear sports field has been dominated with portable classrooms.
The city needs to put more focus on development and re-development in current areas with existing services, as opposed to allowing swaths of trees to be cut down for development in outer areas. The current strategies are far from cost-effective, far from “economy-bolstering,” and far from sustainable.
Daryl Dela Cruz
Progressive Surrey Transit Coalition