Monday, June 2, 2014

Central Newton Cultural Commercial District

Earlier this year, I posted about a new project that is being proposed in what Surrey is calling the “Central Newton Cultural Commercial District.” As I noted at the time, the regional zoning would need to be changes from Industrial to “Mixed Employment”. The regional Industrial Zone allows “heavy and light industrial activities, and appropriate accessory uses” while the “Mixed Employment” zone allows anything but residential.

The City of Surrey has a large section of industrial-zoned land along the Interurban/South Railway of BC corridor in the Newton area. While this land has been zoned for industrial uses for a long time, a number of factors have led to retail becoming established in the area. One of the primary reasons why is that Surrey allows “General Service” businesses, restaurants, and limited retailing in industrial areas.

“Generals Services” includes things like photocopying services, film processing, rentals, appliance repair services, veterinary clinics, adult education institutions, banks, but not retail stores.

While in a typical business park this sort of zoning would allow for restaurant that primary serve employees and allow manufactures to have a showrooms, many business-owner in the Newton area have stretch the definitions of allowed uses in the area. Some businesses are also operating out of the scope of their business license.

Proposed Central Newton Cultural Commercial District around the intersection of 128th Street and 80th Avenue.

Over time, this has created a retail and office area that caters to the South Asian community in Surrey. The proposed creation of the “Central Newton Cultural Commercial District” is a way to recognize what is already happening in the area. By creating the zone, Surrey is hoping to direct future retail into this new district while at the same time strengthen the zoning to protect the surrounding industrial land from future retail/commercial uses. Surrey also plans to strengthen its bylaw enforcement in the area.

By formally recognizing the “Central Newton Cultural Commercial District”, Surrey and TransLink will also be able to better plan and provision for roads, parking, walking, cycling, and transit service.

Surrey is asking Metro Vancouver to change 6.5 ha from the regional Industrial Zone to the Mixed Employment Zone to support this district. As a minor amendment to the regional growth strategy, it will only need 50%+1 weighted support from the Metro Vancouver board to be approved.

I think that Surrey is doing the right thing by embracing the current land-use in the area while putting provisions in place to protect the remaining industrial land in Newton.

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