Voter’s Information Sheet

The Rosemary Heights Community Association (RHCA) was formed in 2016 to advocate on behalf of community members regarding development proposals in our neighbourhood. By far the largest proposed development affecting our community is the application to rezone the Rosemary Heights Retreat Centre lands. This proposal is to build 226 townhomes and 96 condominiums on the forested lands next to the Nicomekl River. We have performed surveys, met with City officials, held community forums, and taken other steps to document the feedback and concerns of the community. This feedback shows that many of you are concerned that if allowed to proceed, this development would have a negative impact on the community in the areas of the environment, traffic congestion and safety, school overcrowding and disruption to the character of our neighbourhood.

On September 16, the RCHA reached out to all mayoral and council candidates in the mainstream parties to identify their position on this development, if elected. On October 4, an All-Candidates Forum was held where more general questions about development and conservation in Surrey were directed to each candidate. Below are details of the responses the RCHA received and a small summary of the discussion at the all candidates meeting.

Note: This is not a political endorsement, it is for your information only when evaluating candidates in the Surrey election on October 20, 2018, specifically regarding the proposed Rosemary Heights Retreat Centre development.

Questions posed to all mainstream candidates by the RHCA:

  1. If elected, what would you do as Mayor/Councillor to respond to the concerns (of the community)?
  2. If elected, what do you think should happen with this unique piece of land and/or which uses would you support (institutional, park, single-family residential, multi-family residential, etc.)?
  3. Describe your previous record and/or accomplishments regarding striking the balance between thoughtful development and expansion of our city, and protection of the unique character of our “Surrey Parks” community.

We received responses from the following candidates (listed in order of receipt):

Steven Pettigrew, Council Candidate – Safe Surrey Coalition ‘We (Pettigrew and the Safe Surrey Coalition) would reject the proposal or get staff to reject it. We would agree to look into purchasing the land and turn it into something useful for the community. We would definitely save the forest by giving it a designation so it couldn’t be torn down.

We do not support the proposal in its current state and believe that the "hub" is an especially sensitive area and that there should be no development in that area. If we are elected to council, then we would deny the proposal.

There needs to be a pause in the development process and development policies need to be re-evaluated. The OCP and NCP need to be followed and development should match the "character" of the community and be supported by the community. Densification should occur along transit corridors. School, traffic and infrastructure planning need to be brought in line with new "Smart Development" policies as they are currently overburdened and need to be improved.”

Dr. Allison Patton, Council Candidate – Safe Surrey Coalition “I am not in favour of a development project on this site and I would prefer that we investigate how we can make it into a park instead.”

Laurie Guerra, Council Candidate – Safe Surrey Coalition “One of the pillars of our platform is ‘smart development’ and the development proposal in Rosemary Heights is a perfect example of development that is not "smart".

All of the candidates on the Safe Surrey Coalition team agree that if elected we will not allow the current development proposal to pass. We also promise to look into the possibility of purchasing the land and turning it into a park.

Effective consultation with residents should be top priority for the Surrey municipal government and the Safe Surrey Coalition will review and improve this process as it is a key part of our smart development approach.”

Doug Elford, Council Candidate – Safe Surrey Coalition “Our position is to stop this proposal and look at the different options for preservation.

This piece of land should be preserved.

My profession is in Environmental Protection. I work for the City of Vancouver, I have worked hard to preserve and sustain what we have left in the urban environment for the City of Vancouver. I am tasked with regulating the Sewer Use Bylaw. I am active daily in ensuring that people are compliant with all the relevant environmental bylaws. I am also on the Environmental Emergency Response Team. I have seen the effects of mismanaged stormwater systems and discharges to storm systems. Someone washing their car on the street will have an effect on the ecosystem. I am strongly against this kind of development.

I visited the site yesterday and walked down by the river. It is a beautiful spot and a fisherman was down there. He was fishing for salmon.

You have a salmon bearing stream that will no doubt be affected by the proposed development on the hill. I have no doubt that it will be impossible to engineer out the effects of building a large amount of houses on such a steep grade. Soil erosion will be also be an issue.

Again we are wiping out all the available land left in the city and if we do not work to preserve this, we will never be able to get this back.”

Pauline Greaves, Mayoral Candidate – Proudly Surrey “As a Mayoral candidate and a resident of South Surrey, I can tell you that I share your concerns.

As a citizen of Surrey, I fully understand the profound pressure the community is under to accommodate the exploding population. That being said I do not support development run amok without proper community consultation, regard for the environment or the accompanying infrastructure.

What I would prefer to see is a community center on the site, especially given the fact that South Surrey only has one to support a large and growing population. I can also visualize a Riverfront park with access to picnic tables and possibly a launch site for canoe or kayak rentals.

Given that the land has already been purchased from the Opus Dei site by a development company, Mayor and council would have to negotiate the purchase of the land at an agreeable price.”

Doug McCallum, Mayoral Candidate – Safe Surrey Coalition

  1. I would vote against the development proposal.
  2. I would look into the possibility of purchasing it for a park.
  3. Most recent I spoke against the road through Hawthorne Park and the Little Campbell River Industrial Development. Prior to that I have a long track record of listening to the public on a variety of development proposals.”

Roslyn Cassells, Council Candidate – Independent Cassells said, in part, that the ecological arguments presented by the Rosemary Heights Community Association in opposition to the development are unassailable. She states that the best use for this land is to leave it to nature. Some places must never be developed... whether due to wildlife corridors in an increasingly fragmented lower mainland ecosystem, the possibility of extirpation of uncommon or endangered species, nesting and foraging sites for migratory or resident birds, or the disappearing riparian areas so many species depend upon, it is a matter of utmost urgency to protect this and other areas like it in our city.

Elected or not I will use all means at my disposal to stop this project going through.

Click here to see Cassells full statement to the Rosemary Heights Community Association.

Bruce Hayne, Mayoral Candidate, Surrey Integrity Now Of note, Bruce Hayne, mayoral candidate, replied to our questions with the following response: “Thanks for your email and thoughts and position on the Retreat Lands.” No further communication was received from Hayne and further attempts to contact him were unsuccessful.

The Safe Surrey Coalition is the only slate to have agreed in full that the retreat centre lands should not be re-zoned for residential development and is worthy of protection. They are also on record as being against the development in the following article dated September 27th.

All-Candidates Meeting

Members of the RHCA attended the All-Candidates Forum to learn more about mayoral candidates’ positions. While the Rosemary Heights Retreat Centre proposal was not discussed specifically, when asked about the decision to vote in favour of the controversial Hawthorne Park, Tom Gill chose to not respond. Bruce Hayne was not present. Doug McCallum and other Safe Surrey Coalition candidates spoke of the need to pause development in the city and introduce “smart development”, ensuring that schools, adequate infrastructure and road systems are in place before any new development is approved.

NOTE AGAIN: THIS IS FOR INFORMATION ONLY. The Rosemary Heights Community Association is a nonpartisan group of neighbourhood residents. We wish only to convey to our community the responses we received from Mayoral and Council candidates, and to provide you with information on candidates’ positions on this issue only. Please consider this issue, along with all other issues important to you, when you cast your vote on election day. Additional information on the candidates, and where to vote, can be found at


Please note:

  • Last remaining Advance Voting Dates are October 11th and 13th at any of six Community Recreation Centres.
  • Our neighbourhood voting station on election day will be Morgan Elementary.
  • Voters can vote at any location.
  • You do NOT need a Voter Card to vote. You can register at the polling station with two pieces of ID.

Thank you, Rosemary Heights Community Association

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