British Columbia

Infamous Surrey eyesore could soon have a date with a bulldozer

The Surrey Public Market, which has been rotting away at the corner of King George Boulevard and 64th Avenue since it was abandoned nearly two decades ago, could soon be torn down.

Council says yes to a new development at the abandoned Surrey Public Market

The Surrey Public Market has sat empty since it closed 18 years ago. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

The Surrey Public Market, which has been rotting away at the corner of King George Boulevard and 64th Avenue since it was abandoned nearly two decades ago, could soon be torn down.

City council approved a plan this week to replace the eyesore with 36 apartment suites and 40 townhouse units.

"It will be a very livable community composed of townhouses and apartments and also, in the middle, there will be a courtyard and green space where kids can play," said project architect Wilson Chang.

"It will energize the area."

About time

Neighbours have complained for years about how the dilapidated building is a form of visual pollution.

"It's really been such a shame," said Jude Hannah with the community group ReNewton.

"It used be a really vibrant place and it's kind of a blight on the neighbourhood. We'll be happy to see it go."

The architect behind the development proposal wants to build homes on top of the existing parkade. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Hannah, who has watched several proposals for the site fall through since the market closed in the late 1990s, won't believe the structure is gone until she sees it with her own eyes.

"Let's hope that it sticks this time," she said. "We just can't wait to see the bulldozers arrive."

Environmental concerns

One of the reasons the property hasn't been developed is that it's located in an environmentally sensitive area.

It backs onto a steep embankment that drops into a creek that flows into the Serpentine River.

"I don't know if you folks have driven by the Serpentine River in the summer lately but it's pretty much dried up," said Grant Rice, a Newton resident who is opposed to the project.

"There were about a hundred ducks sitting in a little small area. There was a little pond, is what was left of it, last summer and the summer before."

Chang says he can address Rice's concerns by building on top of the existing parkade instead of ripping it down.

He says that will cut down on construction waste and eliminate the possibility of concrete and other debris spilling into the creek.

Rat race

The market hasn't had a tenant in nearly 20 years but that doesn't mean it's unoccupied.

It's home to a substantial rat population.

People who live near the market want a pest control strategy when the building is torn down. (Jesse Johnston/CBC)

Surrey Environmental Partners president Deb Jack says there needs to be a pest control strategy when the building is torn down.

"It's been an abandoned building for some considerable period of time," Jack said.

"There is concern about the fact that once they start working on there and everything else, the rodents may begin to just crop up and go into the neighbourhood."

Chang assured council that his team can keep the rats under control.

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