Proposed housing development on Surrey golf course brought to city council

A proposed new housing development on a private golf course in Surrey, B.C., brought out dozens of speakers at a public hearing at city council Monday night.

Course owner says fewer people are playing golf, but opponents say project doesn't fit in community

A rendering of a proposed development at the Coyote Creek golf course in Surrey. (Anthem Properties)

A proposed new housing development on a private golf course in Surrey, B.C., brought out dozens of speakers at a public hearing at city council Monday night.

Developer Anthem Properties is pursuing a rezoning application for a 325-unit development on a portion of the Coyote Creek Golf Course in the Fleetwood neighbourhood. 

"Surrey is growing regardless of this proposed application," said Steve Forrest, Anthem's vice-president of development.

"Our proposal is all about more affordable homes on a sustainable footprint and it's packaged with many community benefits."

The new development would include a mix of townhouses, duplexes and rental apartments. Forrest said prices would start at about $400,000 for a townhouse and go up to about $750,000 for a duplex.

The development would also include amenities such as new public park space, an onsite daycare and retail space.

The new properties would reduce the existing golf course to nine or 12 holes from 18, and would spruce it up with a new clubhouse. Forrest said trends in the golf industry in North America show that fewer people are interested in playing a full 18 holes.

"It allows the revitalization of a golf course that's tired and needs a lift," Forrest said. 

At the public hearing Monday night, golf course owner Nawaz Hirji said revenues have decreased by about 50 per cent since 2007. 

Hirji cited the lack of millennials picking up the sport, the cost of playing and the time needed to complete a full 18-hole course as factors contributing to the decline. 

Some urban designers have argued that golf courses could offer new space for affordable housing and parks

'It doesn't fit in the community'

Of the 88 speakers signed up to speak at the hearing, 56 were in support of the development. Mayor Linda Hepner pointed out that a petition against the project had gathered 2,841 signatures so far.

Members of the Coyote Creek Action Committee say the development will strain the area's existing community facilities like roads, emergency services and the city's already overcrowded schools

"It doesn't fit in the community," said Ken McBain, the committee's co-chair and resident of a townhouse adjacent to the proposed site. "Too many homes in too little space."

McBain says the development doesn't fit within Surrey's official community plan, which focuses densification in frequent transit development areas. 

"[The developers] get what they want — millions out of our community — and then they go away," he said.

"So yes, we do not want our world shaken up by overdeveloping."

The group also says the properties will take up the city's green space. McBain said the golf course is home to wildlife including blue herons, raccoons and deer.

"We look at wildlife all the time on the golf course," he said. "With a third of the golf course being taken out and 325 homes put in, no one can tell me that's not going to put stress on the wildlife and the habitat." 

Surrey Board of Trade in favour

The Surrey Board of Trade spoke in favour of the development at the hearing.

The board said project construction would create 100-150 full-time jobs, with more jobs created at the site's revitalized golf course and the daycare facility. 

The project was first presented to council at a land use meeting on Jan. 22 and referred to a public hearing on Feb. 2. 

A city spokesperson said it would likely take at least six to 10 months before the project would be ready for a final rezoning decision.

If the project is approved, the developer says it would take another three years for it to be built. 

About the Author

Maryse Zeidler

@MaryseZeidler

Maryse Zeidler is a reporter for CBC News in Vancouver, covering news from across British Columbia. You can reach her at maryse.zeidler@cbc.ca.