Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Globe and Mail - "As Surrey grows, trees are traded for density"

"Sales start soon for a major condo development that got caught in the middle of a long battle to save significant old-growth forest in Cloverdale, BC.

The Bose Farm had been a Surrey landmark since 1890, when Henry Bose bought 160 acres, and began what became the Bose family legacy as farmers and public officials. His grandson, Bob Bose is a well-known former mayor and long-time councillor. And the Bose farm has long been a fixture of pastoral Cloverdale, one of the last surviving old family-run farms, says Henry's other grandson, Roger Bose, who grew up there and worked on the farm all his life.

When his grandfather died, the property was left to his father and uncle, and the Bose farm was divided into two farms. Roger and his siblings sold their farm to a developer who found a way to preserve the 12 acres of forest as park, as well as relocate the family's heritage buildings to their lot and incorporate them into a condo development.

The 12-acre forest on the other farm, with trees nearly 100 years old, didn’t fare as well. Mr. Bose estimates about three-quarters of the trees have been lost to development. But he says many people don’t understand that two separate properties are involved, and he managed to preserve all of his own forest, as well as the oldest buildings.

“All the trees on our property were saved,” says Mr. Bose. “The trees on the other property, only about one quarter to one third were saved. City Hall didn’t get it right. Newspapers didn’t get it right. And the public gets all this misinformation.

“We didn’t want to see them chopped down. We had to give up concessions on our property to save the trees, but they didn’t have to on their half.”

As Surrey continues to develop, the trees continue to fall, to the dismay of residents. Developer John Rempel, who purchased the Bose land, says Mayor Dianne Watts urged him to save the old forest, so he was able to exchange trees for parkland and more density. In order to make the project financially viable, he switched from a plan for 40 single family homes to a new plan for 253 condos. The Bose barn, built in 1936, is being restored and renovated, as well as the family house. They will be used as amenities buildings for the residents who live at the Ridge At Bose Farms, a four-phase development that will take about three years to build out. Mr. Rempel sold off the agricultural portion of the land to a blueberry farmer. The property is still surrounded by farms and forest, says Mr. Rempel. The condo project will comprise about 7.5 acres. It took about four years to negotiate and obtain approvals, says Mr. Rempel.

“We didn’t take any land out of the agricultural land reserve. The ALR boundary line runs through the dairy barn, but that’s being protected as a heritage site,” says Mr. Rempel.

“Everyone thinks Surrey is new subdivisions and lots of families moving in, which is true, but in 50 years, people will be able to say, ‘that’s where the Bose farm was, and that’s what the original barn looked like.’ The Bose family came to Surrey in the late 1800s, and the family has been magistrates, police chiefs, councillors, the mayor, and they controlled most of the area. They are a very prominent family and the driving force in Surrey’s development over the years.”

Henry Bose was also the president of the Surrey Co-Op, served on the Surrey School Board, was secretary of the Union of B.C. Municipalities and a long-time police magistrate, among many other public positions. For many years, the Bose farm, called Meadow Ridge, also grew hay for Dairyland’s cattle. At its peak of production, it produced 1,000 tons of potatoes, hay and grain, and had 75 milking cows. The dairy herd was sold off by 1963, and operations were scaled back.

“With no succession plans, the farm was finally dispersed for development,” says Roger Bose.

It was a B.C. institution and now it’s part of Surrey’s new wave of redevelopment. Condo prices are anticipated to start at $129,000 for studios and junior one bedrooms, and go as high as $329,900 for two bedrooms."

Read the entire article from The Globe and Mail here.