Surrey council has approved the “Stage 2 Final Report” of the Newton Town Centre Plan. But Councillor Jack Hundial, the lone council member to speak against it, says Newton needs better recreation opportunities and has a traffic congestion problem that still needs addressing.
A public hearing has been set for 7 p.m. Monday, July 13 on a bylaw to align land use designations in the Newton Town Centre Plan with the Official Community Plan.
Hundial said at the June 29 council meeting that what’s at issue is a lack of “actual proper recreation facility” in the Newton core.
“For years Newton has been sort-of glanced over in some areas I’d say. One of them is actually having that anchor rec and community type of facility here,” Hundial said. “The only pool in the area is the wave pool, which is quite dated.
“There’s a great opportunity here to invest in Newton and build it out to what it should be as opposed to just sort of overlooking it as in large recreation facilities there,” he told his council colleagues. “There’s options and opportunities there to work within the downtown centre, there’s land available so I’d like to see us incorporate that into a plan such as this.”
Councillor Doug Elford agreed Newton “could use better recreation opportunities,” but said he’d support the plan because it’s been promised to Newton residents for a “long, long time and it’s finally come to fruition and we’re starting to move ahead with this now.”
The plan covers 61 hectares, or 151 acres, of land and is bordered by 72nd Avenue to the north, 68th Avenue to the south, 134th Street to the west and 138th Street to the east. The planning process began in 2008, but Surrey first developed a land use plan for Newton Town Centre in 1990.
“As we build up we also have the opportunity to add amenities as we go along but we’ve got to get this kick-started here because a lot of people in my neighbourhood, my neighbours, have been waiting for this for some time,” Elford said. “It’s time to start building up this area.
“The people that I know are just ecstatic that we’re finally moving ahead with this final plan for Newton. It’s been a long, long time coming.”
Mayor Doug McCallum said Newton needs more sports facilities, “or at least new ones or upgrade of the current ones.”
“This has been a long time coming, this town centre plan,” he said. “I think it’s time we move forward but I would also say as we move forward we do need to look at putting some recreation facilities in there. I think Newton needs some.”
McCallum said the library, senior’s complex, wave pool and ice rink are difficult to get to because two “very busy streets” – 72nd Avenue and King George Boulevard – are “blocking it off from a good part of Newton” and “crossing across those are very dangerous, even today.”
“I will say that transportation hub there needs to be improved,” he added. “It’s falling apart, and it’s going to have huge expansion in the next year, in two years.”