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New stadium, entertainment districts part of Surrey’s population boom plan: Mayor

Click to play video: 'Surrey mayor announces new stadium, entertainment district'
Surrey mayor announces new stadium, entertainment district
It was a sold-out event for Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke's first State of the City Address. The mayor took the opportunity to announce several initiatives to raise the city's profile, including a 12,000-seat stadium. As Janet Brown reports, that may sound familiar – Feb 15, 2024

A new stadium, two new entertainment districts and tens of thousands of imminent home builds are among the items on the City of Surrey’s to-do list as it prepares for a population boom that could see it grow to 1 million people by 2042.

Mayor Brenda Locke revealed the new five-year future investment strategy in the annual State of the City speech on Thursday, attended by regional elected officials, first responders, business stakeholders, and more.

“When you just let that sink in for a moment, we are talking about almost doubling our population in less than 20 years,” Locke said. “We must think big and we must act boldly.”

Click to play video: 'Surrey cracks down on builders who flout permit process'
Surrey cracks down on builders who flout permit process

Locke’s address outlined council’s efforts to restore public trust and improve transparency around municipal operations since her Surrey Connect team swept into power in October 2022. That has included the restoration of key committees, the full return of the Surrey Ethics Commissioner Officer, and town hall consultations on the annual budget.

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She also focused on ways to accommodate future growth and transform Surrey into a fully independent destination city where a job exists for every single “resident worker.” That means Surrey will need another 300,000 jobs by 2042, she said.

“With more people wanting to work closer to home and more businesses locating in Surrey because the workers are absolutely here, we have an absolute distinctive advantage,” Locke told the crowd.

“We are not a bedroom community and we haven’t been for a very long time.”

Click to play video: 'Surrey community groups say public safety concerns growing'
Surrey community groups say public safety concerns growing

Surrey residents spend some $700 million a month on goods and services — including $180 million on entertainment and dining out — but right now, not all that cash is flowing into the city, the mayor said.

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That’s why the city will launch a feasibility study Friday into the construction of a 12,000-seat stadium or arena in the city, as well as begin planning for a new entertainment district each in City Centre and Cloverdale, Locke added.

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Council also plans to open up 340 acres of industrial land in Campbell Heights, launch a virtual assistant to support developers with their building queries, and make its way through the 64,000 housing units currently waiting in the “approval pipeline,” Locke said.

Click to play video: 'Surrey mayor, police union and board battle over budget for new SPS officers'
Surrey mayor, police union and board battle over budget for new SPS officers

As it stands, Surrey is the second-largest city in the province and the 12th-largest in Canada.

Locke criticized the pace of transit development in the region and a lack of attention to the needs of the trucking industry delivering goods throughout the Lower Mainland. She said council plans to build five new parking lots for truckers to address the gap and stick to “guaranteed permit timelines” in other developments.

She also criticized the pervasiveness of portables in schools, noting that with more than 400 of them, Surrey has more portables than some entire school districts have students elsewhere in the province. She took aim at a lack of doctors as well but welcomed promises of a new hospital and medical university in the city.

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Click to play video: 'Investigation underway after Surrey construction crane collapse'
Investigation underway after Surrey construction crane collapse

The Metro Vancouver city is slated for major infrastructure improvements in the coming months and years, including the King George Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit project, a new Nicomekl Bridge, and the widening of major arterial roadways.

“It’s time for Surrey to define a new chart, and chart a new path, a new destiny that recognizes our extraordinary opportunity and our place as an economic powerhouse in British Columbia,” Locke said.

“The brass ring is for Surrey to grab and I know if any city can do it, the good people of Surrey will.”

Click to play video: 'Surrey shelters at full capacity as temperatures plummet'
Surrey shelters at full capacity as temperatures plummet

Locke did not address the defining controversy of her time in office thus far — the provincially-ordered transition from the Surrey RCMP to the police of jurisdiction to the fledging municipal Surrey Police Service (SPS), which she swore to disassemble during her election campaign.

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In July last year, after many months of back-and-forth, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth ordered the City of Surrey to phase out the RCMP amid concerns that replenishing it could tighten resources in places where Mounties are in short supply. He said Surrey failed to prove it could keep the RCMP without compromising safety elsewhere, and offered $150 million to support a return to the SPS.

Since then, the city has launched a nearly $500,000 campaign alerting the Surrey public of the costs of the “NDP police transition,” stating the dismantling of the RCMP in favour of the SPS will cost an additional $446 million over the next decade, resulting in a “massive double-digit tax increase” and less money for “schools, health and transit.”

It has also filed a court petition calling for a judge to overturn the B.C. government’s order forcing it to switch to the SPS.

Locke and Farnworth have criticized one another repeatedly on the file, each suggesting the other is misleading the public on activities and communications surrounding the transition, or the costs of the police transition.

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