With a new proposed by-law, the City could be making its most significant move to go green since the introduction of the Sustainability Charter. Staff are asking Council to approve a new policy that will mandate all new developments in the City Centre be designed to connect to a district energy network that will span the downtown.
The City has released its second annual report on Sustainability. It’s been four years since the overarching Sustainability Charter was introduced at City Hall, and a number of actions have been taken over the last year to give that document …
The City of Surrey is re-launching its annual Earth Day celebrations this year, making the event bigger and better than ever. ‘Party for the Planet‘ will be held at Central City Plaza Friday April 15th and Saturday April 16th, featuring …
As we reported earlier in the year, the City and property owners are currently creating an ambitious development plan for the Tynehead neighbourhood, transforming it from a rural edge of Surrey to the centre of significant density and strip malls. Although the draft plan certainly incorporates more modern elements of so-called “sustainable” urban planning, such as natural stormwater management, agricultural buffer zones, and “placemaking”, it remains fundamentally urban sprawl. Worse yet, with a major funding shortfall for the infrastructure required, citizens may end up subsidizing this sprawl!
At full build out, this “Grandview North” is expected to have between 5000 to 8000 dwelling units, translating into 14,000 to 22,400 residents! That’s roughly proportional to the growth in East Clayton. Close to half of all residential developments will be four to six storey condo buildings, with the remainder as townhomes or so-called “cluster” housing. Naturally, the population growth will necessitate three new elementary schools, as well as a “future” community centre (typical Surrey eh?).
However, the fundamental key to making the car-oriented growth possible is the expansion of transportation routes. The highway adjacent location already made the area ideal for more big-box retail and office parks. But to accommodate all those new cars, the City is proposing several major pieces of road infrastructure, including:
- the construction of a new Hwy 1 interchange at 192 St
- a new, grade-separated interchange at 176 St and Golden Ears Way
- A new overpass connecting 93 Ave over 176 St
- A new overpass that crosses Golden Ears Way, paralleling Hwy 1
Just these four major structures are estimated to cost $101 million, of which only $34.5 million would be covered by standard Development Cost Charges.
Meanwhile, building the new road network for the area will cost $242 million, with only $142 million be covered by DCCs. That leaves the transportation bill with a funding gap of well over $100 million. Whoever says we don’t subsidize cars and sprawl needs to wake right up. In the meantime, we’re wondering how to pay for transit?
I must confess, I adore the City of Portland. Were it not for the fact that it is in America, I would move there in a heartbeat. Its distinctive funky, indie, eco flair is unmatched anywhere in North America. I daresay that it achieves a sustainable quality of life that exceeds Vancouver itself. Portland is a major leader in livable urbanism – alas, it is no wonder Surrey Council and staff will be visiting the City of Roses later this month to examine its achievements.
Portland’s unique urban trajectory began in the 1970′s when citizens defeated a proposed $400 million Mount Hood Freeway project. That activism led to the establishment of the Metro regional elected government, which took the lead on regional planning and established the urban growth boundary (the equivalent to our Green Zone and Agricultural Land Reserve). Voters then pushed to reallocate the freeway funds to build a rapid transit system. The region’s first light rail, or MAX, line opened in 1986 (same time as our first SkyTrain line) along 15-mile corridor that connected Downtown Portland to the suburb of Gresham.
The MAX received an 18-mile eastside extension in 1998, connecting the Downtown with the suburb of Hilsboro, and was renamed the Blue Line. The Red Line opened in 2001, connecting Downtown to Portland International Airport. The Portland Streetcar was also introduced in 2001 as a 4.8-mile circulator in the Downtown core. The streetcar would go on to stimulate billions of dollars of redevelopment in former industrial areas, creating the Yaletown-like Pearl District, and Portland’s own Coal Harbour with the South Waterfront District. Dozens of American cities are following in the footsteps of Portland, currently building or planning to build inner city streetcar lines.
TriMet, the regional transportation authority, opened the 5.8-mile MAX Yellow Line in 2004, with a terminus at Expo Center (a major convention facility). In 2009, a commuter rail line called WES was introduced, connecting the distant suburbs of Beaverton and Wilsonville to the MAX Blue Line. Later that year, the 8-mile MAX Green Line opened, connecting the western suburb of Clackamas to Portland’s growing transit network. Construction is currently underway for an eastside extension of the Portland Streetcar, while funding is being secured for a 7.3 mile MAX extension south to Milwaukee.
During the 90′s, the City of Portland also pursued the ambitious expansion of its bike network, making cycling one of its fastest growing mode shares. Most recently, Mayor Sam Adams has championed the concept of 20-minute neighbourhoods across the City (everything you need to live, work, and play within 20 minute walking distance) and the development of Eco-Districts, which are highly sustainable, low carbon, mixed-use neighbourhoods. Portland’s outstanding success with the Streetcar, its bike culture, its ever-expanding MAX network, and its innovative urban planning policies has made it a brilliant case study for sustainability around the world. But don’t just take my word for it, have a look for yourself:
Intro to Portland
The living wall that Surrey Libraries announced in August via Twitter is arriving on schedule. The City is about to give the concrete, prison-like Semiahmoo Library an extreme makeover, putting up the proprietary “Green Over Grey” living wall system …
The City recently applied for a provincial grant through the Community Action on Energy and Emissions Gold program. According to the Corporate Report, the City has been proactive in recent years at examining future district heating systems within Surrey’s Town …