Two separate Development Applications have been submitted for a pair of projects between University Dr & City Parkway and 105 Ave & 105A Ave, just to the south of the BC Lions Training facility.
According to Surrey’s COSMOS, the application on the westerly block is to allow for 873 residential units (approximately 2 towers above podiums), while the application on the easterly block is to also allow for 2 towers above podiums with no unit count given. The applications are also proposing OCP and City Centre Plan amendments to re-designate the sites from 3.5 FAR to 5.5 FAR to allow for increased density. Interestingly, the applicant on the easterly site is listed as Concord Pacific – indicating a new venture for them in Surrey City Centre, to follow their existing ‘Park’ development near King George. The applicant on the westerly site is listed as IBI Group, although the applications could be related.
The subject sites have been vacant grassed lots for decades, and are bisected by the SkyTrain guideway between Surrey Central Station and Gateway Station. While the area may feel vacant now, just to the south across 105 Avenue, Bosa’s 28 & 37-storey University District towers are expected to begin construction within the next year. Also just to the north at City Parkway and 106 Avenue, Lark Group’s 20-story Legion Veteran’s Village project is now under construction.
On Monday, Surrey Council authorized staff to move forward with an Alternative Approval Process to remove a 1979 bylaw reserving a portion of lands in Hawthorne Park for park purposes. The bylaw, which applies to 6 properties (shown on the map below), currently preserves the properties for park purposes. City Staff want to construct a new portion of 105 Avenue through the properties as part of an east-west connector road project which has been planned since the 1980’s. An ‘Alternative Approval Process’ will now move forward involving the public, with aim to remove the 1979 Bylaw and allow for the road’s construction.
While some have expressed discontent with the proposed plan, fuelled by misinformation from mainstream media outletstheproposed plan will actually bring many improvements to the park including a net increase in total size and number of trees. Under the original 1987 OCP plan for 105 St through the park, the alignment was to cut straight across the park east-west. As part of the current design process, the proposed road has been re-aligned to cut further south to have the least environmental impact to the park, and preserve a pair of environmentally sensitive ponds within the park. In total the improvements include:
Careful alignment of the proposed 105 St to minimize environmental impacts.
The proposed roadway will be a narrow, 2-lane cross section through the park with no on-street parking to minimize impacts.
3 properties along 108 Avenue are proposed to be added to the park to make up for parkland lost by road construction. This will result in a net increase of 1 acre of parkland from what exists today (4 acres of park removed for the road, 5 acres of park to be added in exchange)
200 additional trees from what exists today will be added to the park.
Addition of new bike lanes and sidewalks on 105 St improving accessibility to the park.
A previous proposed connection to 142 St has been removed from the current proposal to preserve more trees and parkland.
A new salmon rearing habitat to be added north of 105 St within the park.
Relocation of the existing Hawthorne Park parking lot and access roadway to a more efficient location, allowing for more green space within the park.
New walking trails to be established through the park.
While the plan for the 105 St connector through the park has been in place since 1987, the 1979 bylaw has prohibited the road from actually being constructed. While well intended at the time, the bylaw has since become outdated, put in place nearly 4 decades ago when Surrey was much less developed. In the current context of a rapidly growing city, the 105 St connector is an important piece of infrastructure needed to meet current and future transportation needs, as well as servicing demands within Surrey. The connector will also provide an alternative route to 104 Street, which is designated to become a transit-prioritized and oriented corridor in the near-future with the addition of LRT. The minimal loss of 4 acres of parkland within the 57 acre park (which will then be recuperated through the addition of 5 new acres of parkland) is a negligible price to pay for the greater community good of improved connectivity, accessibility, and overall improvements to the park.