by Ray Hudson
Surrey: “Cloverdale can be a really unique destination like a Fort Langley of Surrey,” so said Don Luymes, Surrey’s Manager for Community Planning, in presenting updates to the Official Community Plan (OCP) for Cloverdale to the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce this past week.
“One of the major objectives of the OCP,” said Luymes, “is to develop distinctive town centres.” There are four town centre plans, in addition to the City Centre plan, Fleetwood and Cloverdale now underway, with Guildford and Semiahmoo to come.
“What’s marking these plans is an attention to creating the conditions to allow these town centres to really be the centre of their communities,” said Luymes, “with a high quality of urban design.”
Surrey has to accommodate an additional 300,000 people over the next thirty years, at a rate of 10,000 per year. It’s estimated distribution would be 100,000 in both the city centre and town centres, including Cloverdale; another 100,000 along the transit corridors, and 100,000 in new and expanding neighbourhoods such as in Clayton Heights area. Sixteen thousand of these people are coming to west Clayton, where a new secondary school is under construction. This will help to relieve overcrowding at Lord Tweedsmuir School.
“People told us overwhelmingly, that they loved living in, and doing business in Cloverdale,” Luymes said. “Speaking positively about its unique historic and heritage character, I think it’s a brand they don’t want to damage. But at the same time, people do feel that the town centre lacks vitality. People said they wanted to see food and beverage and entertainment in the town centre, to create a sense of destination, a place that people want to go and spend their discretionary dollars in. We hope to create the conditions to foster more vibrancy in the town centre in the future.”
Luymes said the market study suggests increasing multi-family residential development in and around the core of Cloverdale that can support the existing retail as well as this latent demand that’s there in the food and beverage sector, an unmet market opportunity.
“We asked our consultant to look at, and if large format retail on some of the vacant sites along Highway 10 would compete with main street Cloverdale”, said Luymes. “They felt it would not and with the right mix of retailers, would bring more people into the retail area and create spill-over shopping in some of the unique shops and services and restaurants that characterized Cloverdale’s main street. That has encouraged the city to think differently about some of the sites.”
The study asked if the kind of complex with significant offices and back offices at Highway 10 and 152 Street would work in the Cloverdale town centre, the feeling was that that market was probably tapped out at this point.
Here are the City’s “plan” objectives:
– increase the residential development and density in and adjacent to the town centre where people can walk to shops and services, and live in a walkable community with a friendly small town feel.
– maintain and strengthen Cloverdale’s character and brand identity through urban design of both public and private sector projects that creates an authentic urban design framework.
– encourage the development of key vacant sites that offer real opportunities and create a positive move for the town centre.
– improve connections between the town centre and the Cloverdale fairgrounds through a visioning process that Councillor Bruce Hayne is leading. Better signage and sidewalks will provide better pedestrian access to, and enhance both entertainment and trade shows held in the grounds.
According to Don Luymes, the existing town centre plan, around since 2000 doesn’t need a whole lot of tweaking but there are some key sites including a large format commercial site and business park behind the Brick Yard development on the west side.
“The city sees those sites as particularly suited to development as large commercial which would bring more shoppers into the general area,” he said. “We see potential to increase the density broadly across the town centre which will tip certain sites into redevelopment and make them a little more viable at five stories as opposed to three or four and we think it will create a different vitality in the site. Also, in the area around the KPU campus, there’s some discussion about the possibility of a technology business park. The city is very much onboard with that idea, but much discussion needs to happen at the senior levels of government, to make it another piece of the Cloverdale story.”
To enhance Cloverdale’s branding, the city is working with the BIA, on welcome signs, one major sign located at the corner of Hwy 10 and Hwy 15, and they’re working with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) to develop plans to plant a significant number of trees along Highway 10 through the town centre.
And speaking of transportation, there’s some disappointment about the way transit is interacting with the town centre. TransLink is in Phase 3 of refining design and costing of rapid transit lines, including a line down Fraser Highway. Luymes says Surrey’s preference is strongly for light rail and is currently seeking provincial and federal commitments to make it happen.
“The city is working on station plans all along the L-line and the Fraser Highway line, then refining with TransLink where stations would be located. Unfortunately that doesn’t include a station at Fraser Highway and Highway 15.” says Luymes. “The city has taken a hard look at it and asked TransLink to do the same, but at this point it’s not in the cards.”
All the city can do is work with TransLink to increase the frequent bus service, to provide quick access to and from the town centre to stations along the rapid transit line.
In the cultural heart of Cloverdale, Laurie Cavan, Surrey’s General Manger of Parks, Recreation and Culture, reviewed some of the specific plans including:
– doubling the Surrey Museum’s exhibit space to host both national and international exhibits and doubling the size of the children’s exhibit area
– partnering with other stakeholders in the area, Surrey’s Heritage Rail and the BC Vintage Truck Museum, to create a real tourist destination in that hub of Cloverdale.
– reviewing a number of changes on the fairgrounds with the addition of the Cloverdale Recreation Centre, the Youth Park, investments in the Agriplex, positioning the fairgrounds to take advantage of opportunities that we know are coming in the next few years. There will be some consultations with key stakeholders in the Cloverdale area, through Surrey’s Planning Development Department as well as through the leadership of Councillor Hayne.
– installing a new artificial turf field at the Cloverdale Athletic Park, a two million dollar investment in support of Surrey’s sport tourism strategy of bidding on and hosting big events to the city which brings people to stay and spend money. It’s a big part of Surrey’s economic development.
Cavan also reported that Hazel Grove Park in the Clayton area is 95% complete and will be a real community hub as the area grows, and that the Bose Farm of about 3.7 hectares with walking paths and board walks through the large Douglas fir and other trees will be open to the public by the end of the year.