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CITY OF SURREY: Parks vs. Parking Lots

CITY OF SURREY: Parks vs. Parking Lots

 

The City of Surrey should be applauded for facilitating a public consultation in this matter. It’s important for residents to voice their opinions when neighborhood decisions like this are being reviewed.

With over 6000 acres of parkland and green space, Surrey is popularly known as the City of Parks. The city is growing at a rapid pace with approximately 1,000 new residents moving in every month. By 2020, Surrey is expected to become the most populated city in Metro Vancouver. More people will undoubtedly result in more development, which in turn, requires more housing, more student placements in schools and more people frequenting all the amenities throughout Surrey, including the parks.

Preserving parkland has always been a priority in Surrey which has resulted in a constant battle amongst city council, residents and developers.

Surrey Parks - Bear CreekA recent debate has sparked passionate arguments between a portion of the community that would like to expand the parking lot in order to accommodate the massive amounts of people attending festivities at the Surrey Mandir and Surrey Brookside Gurdwara and the residents who want to preserve Surrey’s parks. The current parking is inadequate for spillover when either temple hosts a large event, forcing attendees to park illegally or clog up nearby neighborhoods.

“We are here to bring up a solution about what we need for our community,” said Vinay Sharma, general secretary of the Vedic Hindu Cultural Society. “We need more resources, we need more recreation centers, we need more schools, we need more parks – the same way we need more parking.”

The committees that run both temples are offering to foot the construction bill of $400,000, which is the cost required to turn a portion of Bear Creek Park into a parking lot that will be shared by visitors to the churches and to the park.

This issue was addressed in a recent city council meeting and the Councilors and Mayor voted against the parking lot project. Some of the potential alternatives include:

1. Build a parking lot across the street (pedestrian walkway will have to be built)

 

2. Turn the parking lot on 140th into primary parking lot for the mandir/gurdwara (and encourage Bear Creek park visitors to park in the other parking lots – off of 88th and King George)

3. Offer shuttle service from the other parking lots around Bear Creek Park. Another decision would have to be whether it’s necessary to have this service available on a regular basis or just during special occasions.

4. For big wedding parties and community events, guests can be encouraged to park in a school parking lot nearby and then a shuttle bus can be arranged to transport the entire group to the mandir or gurdwara.

5. Some residents are suggesting using the land available under the BC Hydro lines close by. However, other residents feel that part of the park is utilized by people walking their dogs and it is home to wildlife. The City Manager responded by suggesting the possibility of building an underground parkade in this area.

6. The nearby community church can offer their parking lot to the other temples. Currently, the parking lot is gated with limited access, however if all of them work together, this could be a good temporary solution until a permanent solution is agreed upon.

The City of Surrey should be applauded for facilitating a public consultation in this matter. It’s important for residents to voice their opinions when neighborhood decisions like this are being reviewed.

Surrey Parks - Parking LotThe reality of the matter is that the parking issue will become more and more prominent in Surrey as the city continues to grow. A happy balance is required in order to accommodate the community as a whole. Preserving parkland is indeed a priority and should always remain a priority. However making the community into a more livable space is also an important aspect that needs to be considered along the way.

 

By Rina Gill
Rina Gill is an entrepreneur and community volunteer. She is passionate about local issues and has been involved with Surrey municipal politics over the past 6 years.

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