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Neighbours should be heard when a development proposal impacts the community: Councillor Linda Annis

Surrey, B.C. (October 23, 2023): Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis is urging the Semiahmoo First Nation to rethink plans for a proposed biofuel facility that will negatively impact nearby residential neighbours in Surrey.

“While the City of Surrey doesn’t have any jurisdiction, the proposed facility is an industrial operation adjacent to a residential neighbourhood and there will be very real impacts, everything from odour and air pollutants to increased truck traffic going to and from the plant. Residents in that part of Surrey have raised legitimate concerns, and even though our city council cannot tell the Semiahmoo what to do on their land, good neighbours don’t ignore one another,” said Annis.

“I applaud Chief Harley Chappell and the Semiahmoo First Nation for looking at economic opportunities, but when a proposal impacts your neighbours, their concerns should be heard. If a project in Surrey was going to impact the Semiahmoo, I would want our city to listen to our First Nation neighbours because it’s the right thing to do. This all boils down to a controversial development proposal, and when there are real concerns they should be part of the discussion and part of the decision making process. A bad development proposal on Semiahmoo land isn’t any different than a bad development proposal across the street in Surrey.”

Annis said the Semiahmoo and Surrey have a strong working relationship, something that has developed and changed for the better over many years.

“We both want what is best for our respective communities and region, and when we have an issue like this, I hope we can work through it rather than taking an arbitrary position based solely on jurisdiction,” said Annis. “If truth and reconciliation has taught us anything, it has reinforced the importance of respect and working together as equals, particularly on issues where we have different perspectives. All of us in Surrey want the Semiahmoo to succeed and to be as strong economically as possible. But I want our relationship to also be strong enough to work through even the toughest of issues. That kind of mature relationship speaks volumes and is something we should aspire to.”

Annis said the Semiahmoo and Surrey can both do what they want on their own land, but any potential impact on one another should also be part of those development discussions and approvals.

“Hundreds of residents in that part of Surrey have real concerns,” concluded Annis. “These concerns and their obvious impacts to that residential neighbourhood shouldn’t be ignored just because the development proposal is in a different jurisdiction.”