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Geoff Gillard, The Now Newspaper,. March 25 2001.

By 2021, Surrey will be B.C.'s most populous city in the Georgia Basin, at its current rate of growth; City planners are forecasting a need for about 110,000 new homes.

The need for more housing has brought developers and landowners together with government regulators, City of Surrey engineers and UBC planners to create the farsighted East Clayton Neighbourhood Concept Plan (NCP).

East Clayton, located in Surrey's South Newton area, will provide homes for more than 13,000 people. It will be a new kind of suburban community where residents can stroll down tree-lined streets to nearby shops or follow foot paths along salmon-bearing streams.

Moving community planning away from the tried and true means taking risks but the costs of not evolving are simply too high. Standard residential neighbourhoods are covered with hard surfaces; roofs and paved driveways, streets and parking lots that speed the flow of storm water downstream so quickly that it can't get back to the aquifers. Farmers in the Nicomeki lowlands already have to plant their crops later and harvest sooner because their fields get saturated with water.

"If we continue developing the way we have in the past we're going to increase the amount of flow going down to the Serpentine," says developer John Turner, whose company, Progressive Construction, plans to begin construction in East Clayton in 2001.

East Clayton's drainage system and infrastructure will absorb the storm water yet the surface is still permeable enough for water to find its way to the neighbourhood streams. Stormwater retention ponds will return water gradually to the soil while filtering out most of the non-point source pollution.

"All of the Lower Mainland is going to have to start dealing with drainage in a different way," says Turner. "We could see that was coming and we thought that this was an opportunity to be at the forefront."

Partners in the East Clayton NCP include the City of Surrey, the Pacific Resource Centre, UBC James Taylor Chair in Landscape and Liveable Environments, Ramsey Worden Architects Ltd., and Reid Crowther & Partners Ltd.

Supporting the NCP is an advisory committee made up of representative citizens of East Clayton, members of the development community and various interested agencies including: the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia; Georgia Basin Ecosystem Initiative; Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation; A.C.T. Program (Federation of Canadian Municipalities); Agriculture Investment Foundation (Agriculture Canada); Ministry of Municipal Affairs; Ministry of Agriculture; and the Greater Vancouver Regional District.


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