Porte's Flyer vs. The Facts
Published on 2018/05/15
6 min read
As many of you know, Porte Developments distributed a flyer to the Rosemary Heights community on May 5, announcing revisions to their development proposal for the Rosemary Heights Retreat Lands. Porte suggests in the flyer that their revised proposal is an improvement over their previous one.
In response, the Rosemary Heights Community Association has evaluated the proposed changes, and made inquiries to discern the facts.
We are concerned that the facts do not support Porte’s suggestion of improvement; conversely, the revised proposal appears markedly more detrimental to the community.
Here are the facts:
School - Conseil Scolair Francophone (School District 93)
Porte's flyer states that "In response to community feedback, Porte has included a new public school as part of their revised application”.
However, it is important to note that this proposed school would be operated by the Francophone School District, and restricted only to children from Francophone families whose first language learned is French (not including French immersion). This is NOT a French immersion school.
The proposed school would have a capacity of 260 students and a large catchment area across South Surrey/White Rock, meaning that:
- students would be driven or bussed in from other communities, creating additional traffic and safety issues..
- very few neighbourhood families would qualify to attend this school, so it does not provide any solution to the the current school overcrowding issue.
Despite Porte's claims that they have included a school in response to community feedback, the community did NOT ask for a Francophone school that their children could not attend.
As stated above, the revised proposal and the Francophone school do nothing to relieve overcrowding in the community's schools. The majority of the existing student population would not qualify to attend due to enrollment restrictions, nor would the estimated 100 additional students emerging from the proposed development. The Community Association is therefore concerned that Porte’s new proposal would exacerbate, rather than relieve school overcrowding.
Sale of Four Acres from Porte Developments to Conseil Scolair Francophone
The Rosemary Heights Community Association contacted School District 93 and they acknowledged that a proposal had been made. However, it has been confirmed that the land has NOT been purchased. It is in the proposal/planning stage and requires the approval of the ministry/school board. At this point, there is no design or timeline for construction in place either. The School District did advise that the proposed school would be a 2 storey building in order to reduce its footprint.
In summary, the school is not 100% confirmed - it is at the proposal/planning stage and we have heard from many of you that you have significant concerns about whether this proposed facility would benefit our community.
Again, Porte's revised proposal commits four acres of land to the Francophone only school. To make up for the land loss, their plan has been re-configured to pack more units into a smaller area, increasing the total number of units by 21 in comparison to their prior proposal:
Revised Proposal: 226 townhomes plus 96 condominiums = 322 units Previous Proposal: 278 townhomes plus 23 single family homes = 301 units
The Community Association is concerned that further densification described above would almost certainly require substantial removal of the ecologically sensitive trees and forest on the property, according to Porte's own design plan included in their May 5 flyer. The revised plan does not appear to incorporate feedback from the community's clear message to Porte that environmental protection of these lands is paramount. Full details of the environmental sensitivity of this unique riparian property--one of the last remaining riparian ecosystems in Surrey--are articulated in the Rosemary Heights Community Association's report to the mayor and council submitted on December 4, 2017 https://saverosemaryheights.netlify.com/environmental-concerns.
Porte's design plan does maintain the trees along the river. In their marketing, Porte contends that the proposal "celebrates nature" and that the proposed pathways will “enhance neighbourhood connectivity”, however it is important to note that they do NOT have the option to build in the riparian zone due to City regulations. Conversely, Porte did have the option to preserve the old growth trees in the proposed residential area, yet their plans still include substantial removal of the forested area.
Traffic / Bussing
Porte's revised proposal does nothing to alleviate the traffic and road safety issues raised in the Rosemary Heights Community Association's report to the council and mayor https://saverosemaryheights.netlify.com/traffic-concerns. In fact, the proposal exacerbates the issues because the large majority of the 260 students attending the Francophone school will be bussed in, and would be in addition to the traffic created by the proposed 322 new homes. A conservative estimate of 20 children per bus would yield 13 busses in and out of the area two times per day, with likely additional vehicles as some parents will drive their children. This in combination with traffic from the new homes whose children do not attend the school. The Community Association is concerned about the safety of children walking to and from Rosemary Heights Elementary at the same time.
Entrance to the Proposed Development
Porte has now been told by the City that the existing entrance and exit to the property on 152 Street does not meet current safety standards and must be closed, meaning that all traffic would funnel through the neighbourhood to the entrance near 36th Ave and 154th Street. Traffic accessing or exiting the proposed school from/to the east and north would also likely use 40th Ave, 156B Street and 37A Avenue, in addition to Rosemary Heights Crescent/Drive, 154th Street and 36th Ave. The Community Association is extremely concerned about the impact of this traffic on our quiet residential streets.
Parking was also identified as a significant area of concern by the community in the Rosemary Heights Community Association's report to the council and mayor https://saverosemaryheights.netlify.com/traffic-concerns. Already, 36th Avenue and side streets are fraught with parking issues, many of which stem from residents of the Edgewater complex on the north west corner of 152 Street and 36 Avenue who are dual vehicle families with only one parking spot assigned. Porte's development proposal calls for 226 townhomes and 96 condominium units. Though they intend to meet the City of Surrey’s bylaw requirements for parking**, the Community Association is concerned that inevitably additional street parking will be required. The NCP design of the Rosemary Heights community was not designed, with intention, to accommodate the excessive amount of street parking.
** Two garage parking spaces per townhouse plus a visitor space for every five homes / 1.3 or 1.5 parking spaces per condominium unit plus a visitor space for every 5 apartments (ie 1.3 for one bedroom)
What You Can Do
We suggest that if you share these concerns (or have other feedback you wish to provide) that you email City Council to express your concerns. The text below can be copy/pasted into the “To:” field of your email message to include the Mayor and Councillors, the Planning Department, our local MLA, and the Surrey School District.
firstname.lastname@example.org; TSGill@Surrey.ca; Vera.LeFranc@surrey.ca; BruceHayne@Surrey.ca; MMartin@surrey.ca; Mike.Starchuk@surrey.ca; HBSteele@Surrey.ca; JAVilleneuve@Surrey.ca; Dave.Woods@surrey.ca; email@example.com; RHintsche@surrey.ca; firstname.lastname@example.org; Stephanie.Cadieux.MLA@leg.bc.ca; email@example.com
Talk to your neighbours - if they’re not currently on the Rosemary Heights Community Association’s mailing list, please share this important information with them. Also, please encourage them to join the mailing list here:
The Rosemary Heights Community Association will keep the community informed as we become aware of new developments, including notification of Porte’s application to the City for re-zoning (no estimated date at this time) and ensuing council meetings. Once we have entered this stage, community support will be extremely important to effect the refusal of this application. Our voices matter and they WILL be the difference between refusal and approval.