(From left) Leah Kostamo of A Rocha

Industry foes say fight to preserve South Surrey site not over

Friends of Hazelmere/Campbell Valley have planned a community meeting for Nov. 13

The shelving earlier this month of a proposal for a truck park on 77 acres in the Hazelmere Valley was welcome news to many who rallied against such development.

But opponents say the move hasn’t eased their fears that industrialization is still in the cards for the environmentally sensitive area.

“They still want to do industrial zoning,” Sarah Rush, chair of Friends of Hazelmere/Campbell Valley, said Tuesday of plans for land south of 16 Avenue near 192 Street. “There’s too many ifs and buts and maybes and perhaps and we’ll see.

“We won’t stop fighting for the best possible land use for that area until we’re convinced that’s what’s going to go there.”

Landowner GG Metro withdrew its rezoning application for the site on Oct. 5, one week after spokesman Patrick Giesbrecht told Peace Arch News that the company was considering “other uses than industrial” for the site.

That move – which included a commitment to be involved in the City of Surrey’s Local Area Planning exercise – came one year after council endorsed preparation of an LAP for the area south of 16 Avenue near 192 Street, then supported a surprise request by Coun. Tom Gill to push the rezoning application forward ahead of the LAP.

FHCV formed in response to the rezoning application being pushed ahead by council, and have held a series of community meetings in the year since to shed light on the issues.

Concerns included that pollutants from such a facility would threaten both the river and the Brookswood aquifer. As well, food security and the impact to traffic along the already-busy 16 Avenue.

Giesbrecht told PAN earlier this month that GG Metro is “committed to come up with a land use that’s much more agreeable to the local community,” but noted that the city “has not closed the door” that would prevent similar applications coming forward.

Rush said another community meeting on the matter is set for 1 p.m. Nov. 13 at Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club. It will feature a speaker on the watershed issues, explain where the process is at and provide an opportunity for the public to ask questions, she said.

She said FHCV and others with concerns – including members of the Little Campbell Watershed Society – are determined not to rest until the best possible use for the land is agreed on.

“Once it’s zoned, there’s very little control on what people can put there,” Rush said.

“We will just continue to do what’s right for that area of land – not based on profits, but what’s right, what’s safe and what’s sustainable.”

A South Surrey galvanizing plant and an update on the LAP are also on the agenda for the Nov. 13 meeting.

Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club is located at 1284 184 St.

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