This January the City of Surrey’s planned $3.1billion Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension received the support of Metro Vancouver mayors and, while all the money has not yet been approved, the concept has triggered one of the largest land plays in British Columbia.
Surrey projections are that the new SkyTrain corridor will see a population increase of at least 120,000 people over the next two decades, translating into tens of thousands of homes and corresponding retail and workspace development.
Currently, only $1.63 billion has been allocated to the first phase, which will extend the SkyTrain Expo Line seven kilometres down Fraser Highway from King George Station to 164 Street. Another nine-kilometre, four-station second phase extension to Langley will need $1.5 billion.
“Through this agreement, the City of Surrey is committing that new and updated land use plans will incorporate land uses, densities and forms of residential tenure which result in planned population and job growth that exceeds the population and job projections,” stated the business case summary.
The Skytrain corridor will run through Clayton Heights and Fleetwood but also includes Surrey’s 1,008-acre rural enclave of Anniedale-Tynehead, characterized today by small farms, often with realtor signs planted by the dusty driveways.
The land rush is exemplified by developer Beech Westgard which has acquired 150 acres in Anniedale-Tynehead and has fronted a $35 million bond to install essential infrastructure for a masterplan development. The land assembly involved a number of realtors, led by Dimple Gill, vice-president of Oakwyn Marketing of Vancouver.
Gill explained that the lack of servicing was the biggest hurdle to getting development moving, but the city of Surrey and smaller developers did not or could not pay for it.
“We now have the critical mass necessary,” he explained.
Other developers close to the Beech Westgard main trunk lines will be able to hook to it, for a fee, Gill explained.
It is expected to take 18 months for the sewers and other services to be in place, which is also about the time the City of Surrey is expected to have updated the zoning and density for the area from its original draft nearly a decade ago.
Gill said Beech Westgard’s masterplan does not require SkyTrain to make it a success, noting the area is already close to freeways, has sites approved for schools, and is in B.C.’s fastest-growing municipalities.
Meanwhile, many of those holding small acreages in the Anniedale-Tynehead area are hoping to cash in.
Gill said land prices in Anniedale achieved $2.6 million per acre just over a year ago. With the services now going in, he expects that price will reach $3.5 million or more per acre over “the next year or so” as the services are completed.