When Linda Wing’s husband went to the Cloverdale town centre plan open house on June 14, he was surprised to see that his house — located near 58A Avenue and 173B Street — and been shaded in on the map as a future park.
“We were in shock,” said Linda Wing.
Wing and her husband have been living in their current home for 27 years, and they plan to stay there after they retire, she said.
The piece of land marked for future park in the proposal encompasses eight homes, including one that was only finished last summer.
When Wing first contacted the Reporter, her concern was that she would be forced to sell her home to the city when she did not want to move, and that the price she would get for the house would be less than what she would need to purchase another home in the Cloverdale area.
This concern was heightened because neither her nor her neighbours were made aware of the park designation in the proposed town centre plan — if her husband hadn’t happened to attend the open house and see the board, she said, they might not have found out.
“I don’t trust the city,” she said. “They try to slide things in under the radar.”
As City of Surrey Planner Steve MacIntyre explained, that was not the intention.
The land use concept, he explained, is meant to be seen as a “starting point,” “a draft we put out there to find out if we’re on the right track.”
And while there is “general support for a park in that vicinity,” the city has not settled on where exactly it would be — the eight houses coloured in to represent a future park on the town centre proposal map do not necessarily mean that the park will be located at those addresses.
In fact, he said, following discussions with some of the residents of those eight homes, “We’ve started looking at other sites in that area.”
In 2014, the City of Surrey held a series of open houses on the future Cloverdale town centre plan update.
“The idea for additional park land came from those open houses. We heard from [many people] that there’s a shortage of park land,” said MacIntyre, explaining that there was not enough park land to support the existing population nor the projected population increase for the next decade.
The general rule of thumb for the planning department, he said, was to try and have roughly 2 1/2 acres of park land per 1,000 residents, and to have that park within a five minute walk from their homes.
The park proposed for the neighbourhood would be a “mini-park” of about 1.3 acres. MacIntyre noted that there’s “nothing substantial” currently in that area.
If the draft plan is adopted as is, he said, that designation as park land would not remove entitlement to property owners. They would, in other words, have the right to say “no” to the city’s offer to buy out their property for a park.
“We are not using expropriation in this case,” he said.
“We’re not pulling the rug from under them,” MacIntyre said. “That’s not what we do at all.”
The timing of a park being built in that area is “very much subject to how things unfold,” he said. But after the plan is adopted, the funding and mechanism will be in place to build a park in that neighbourhood if and when land becomes available — even if it takes decades.
Wing’s neighbourhood sent a delegate to city hall, she said, and the city was “very open to hearing from us.”
Still, she said, her concerns were “not totally alleviated” by the city’s reassurances.
For more information on the town centre plan proposal, go to surrey.ca. Community members can view and provide feedback on draft updates to the plan by filling out a survey at surrey.ca/surveys. The survey will be open until July 6.