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From the Desk of the Mayor

Mayor Linda Hepner advocates for municipal needs to Canada’s Infrastructure Ministers

Mayor's Message - September 2017

As we wrap up summer and move into our fall routines and schedules, I am reflecting on what a busy and eventful few months it has been.

This summer recorded the worst wildfire season in BC in history.  With hundreds of thousands of British Columbians displaced, the Cloverdale Arena was converted into the Lower Mainland’s Regional Emergency Social Service Reception Centre.  In the approximately six weeks it was open, the City Emergency Management and Emergency Social Services Teams supported about 3000 people displaced from their homes due to wildfires.  Our first responders from the Surrey RCMP and the Surrey Fire Department were also deployed out to provide support.  Meanwhile here at home, our community provided tremendous support those who had come to Surrey seeking refuge.  Through donations to the Red Cross and Salvation Army, meal gift card donations, and offering up their homes to people and their pets, Surrey residents truly exemplified what it means to be a generous, embracing and loving community.  I’m so proud of our residents and volunteers for providing so much support. 

I am pleased to announce good news from the provincial government.  We welcomed $125,000 from Honourable Shane Simpson to undertake a Labour Market Partnership Project.  This means that more innovation and jobs are coming to Surrey as we partner with Simon Fraser University and Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

On the topic of good news, it was my pleasure to attend the launch of Townline Homes’ The Bristol, their new purpose-built urban rental building.  With such a high demand for rental housing in Surrey, The Bristol is a boon for our tight rental market.  Townline Homes was grateful for the City of Surrey’s support in helping this vision come to reality, and we hope to welcome more projects like to increase affordable housing.

At the City of Surrey, Council and staff are consistently trying to find new and innovative ideas and solutions to the issues that affect us every day to elevate Surrey on the national and international stage.  As the Federal Government moves into phase 2 of the National Infrastructure Plan and with the expected release of the National Housing Strategy this fall, I presented to the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Infrastructure as part of a FCM delegation in Ottawa.  The second phase of the federal Investing in Canada Plan holds great promise for revitalization across a number of sectors, from public transit to affordable housing to climate change initiatives.  Climate change affects all Canadians and requires the involvement of all levels of government.  My presentation to the Ministers is an example of the intergovernmental collaboration required to ensure successful implementation of both those federal initiatives.

The FCM delegation and I addressed a number of other issues including cost-sharing to maximize investment and long-term growth; the need for affordable housing in concert with wider infrastructure needs; building inclusive communities through culture and recreation, and the importance of supporting a low-carbon green economy.

With the busy fall session under way, I look forward to completing this last quarter on a strong note.  I always emphasize that the success that the City of Surrey has seen and will continue to see is due to the collaborative efforts of our residents, staff and City Council.  We work collectively to deliver the best service and quality of life to our residents.  In my role as leader of this city, I endeavour to build collective relationships with my federal and provincial counterparts to ensure that Surrey remains a key player at the municipal, federal and provincial levels.

 

Mayor's Message - July 2017

Time has certainly flown by.  We are half way into 2017, and the momentum that we started the year with is continuing unabated.

Returning from a productive week in Ottawa at the Big City Mayors' Caucus and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference in June, a National Housing Strategy, Poverty Reduction, Smart Cities Challenge, Transportation Infrastructure Spending, and the Opioid Crisis all formed a busy agenda.  Coming back to the results of the Provincial election, I was focused on what the outcome means for our city and my responsibility to ensure Surrey’s advocacy positions are well known to a new government.

I am happy to say that we welcomed Premier John Horgan to Surrey’s Canada 150 celebration in Cloverdale, one of his very first appearances as Premier-elect.  Premier Horgan spent the afternoon at the celebration, and expressed to me that Surrey is a unique city in terms of its growth and the endeavours being put forward at the municipal level, and he looks forward to giving Surrey the attention it needs at the Provincial level.

Subsequent to that, I had the privilege of attending the swearing in ceremony of the Provincial Government on July 18th.  The Honourable Rob Fleming, our new Minister of Education expressed that he will be moving quickly to start eliminating portables in Surrey, as promised during their election.  In addition, I am hosting a meeting with Surrey’s Ministers and Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) this month to discuss Surrey’s concerns and top priorities in government in more detail.  This will be an important meeting, as Surrey is now represented by three cabinet ministers, giving us the opportunity to work towards finding collaborative solutions to Surrey’s ongoing needs in education, infrastructure, housing and health.

Surrey gave Premier Horgan a warm welcome on Canada Day; this year drew the largest attendance numbers in its history, hosting over 120,000 people throughout the day.  Attendees celebrated Canada’s 150th birthday with headliner Hedley and finished off the day with a grand fireworks finale.  If there’s one thing Surrey has mastered, it’s hosting free, family-friendly festivals on a grand scale.  The 10th annual Fusion Festival took place this July 22nd and 23rd, featuring performances from world renowned artists including Nelly Furtado and Amrinder Gill.  Keeping in line with the theme of Canada 150, we wanted to bring you Canadian artists to celebrate Canada’s birthday.

We have had a variety of announcements in the past two months that I would like to share with you.  We celebrated the grand re-opening of the Newton Seniors Centre, providing seniors with the opportunity to enjoy the new, renovated space.  The City of Surrey received $500,000 from the federal government’s “Canada 150 Infrastructure Program” to help fund renovations.  This revamp provides seniors with increased accessibility and a new, welcoming functional environment.

We also broke ground at the site of the forthcoming West Village Energy Centre and Park.  These new amenities will be key pieces of sustainable infrastructure in West Village, an emerging neighbourhood in Surrey’s City Centre, and home to Surrey City Energy - the city-owned district energy utility that currently provides heat and hot water to commercial and residential buildings in parts of City Centre. The district energy system will eventually be built to make its service available to the majority of City Centre. The new energy center will be co-located with a new urban park: West Village Park.

Surrey City Council approved a contribution from the Council Initiatives Fund to support the Surrey Poverty Reduction Coalition (SPRC) in its continued efforts to implement Surrey’s Poverty Reduction Plan.  Poverty affects us all, not just those with low incomes. It impacts individuals, families, and communities. The effects of poverty are felt in increased health care costs, expanded policing burdens, and diminished educational outcomes. It was a deep concern about the impacts of poverty in Surrey – especially in certain population groups such as children and youth – that mobilized community leaders to develop the Plan, and it drives the continued commitment of Council and its partners.

Surrey certainly has an enormous spectrum of responsibilities and initiatives, and the examples mentioned here demonstrate the cooperation and coordination of various levels of staff and management at the City of Surrey.  Our employees do a tremendous job in ensuring the quality of work and service aligns with the core values of the City of Surrey.  I encourage you to explore surrey.ca to learn more about our many initiatives.

I wish you and your families a wonderful summer.

Sincerely,

Linda Hepner
Mayor

 

Mayor's Message - May 2017 State of the City Edition

This May, I delivered my State of the City Address, an annual event that provides updates on Surrey’s achievements in the last year, and a look at the vision going forward.  As residents of this growing city, I use this periodical as an opportunity to give you an update on the progress of City Council and the City in developing policy and promoting directions for the future of our metropolitan city.

Surrey prides itself on having among the lowest property taxes in the region; this year, our city’s balanced budget continues to rank among the lowest per capita in the region.  Despite low property taxes, our city manages to generate revenue through various avenues, such as the value of building permits, which topped $1.5 billion last year.  This impressive number is a definite sign of strong economic activity.  Another indicator of strong economic activity is the filming being done in Surrey.  Since 2011, the number of filming days has increased more than 600 per cent and the number of film permits has nearly tripled.  Today it’s an important part of our local economy and creating more than 5,000 jobs for Surrey residents.

With the economic growth in Surrey, the City is putting the added tax dollars back into servicing the needs of those who deserve it most – our residents.  The value of Surrey’s 2017 Civic Construction program is $241 million dollars.  This includes two new Sports and Ice Complexes; one in North Surrey and one in Cloverdale, a major expansion to the Surrey Museum as well as a new recreation centre and library in Clayton.  Residents have been telling us that they needed more amenities in these areas and we have endeavoured to meet those needs.

Finally, to continue fostering Surrey’s economic growth, we have created a Nexus program, which will fast track a number of city shaping projects so they can come off the drawing board and into reality.  The five major projects currently identified include: SFU’s new Surrey Campus Expansion with the construction of the $126-million Energy Systems Environmental building designed by Bing Thom Architects; The Legion Veteran’s Village that will include Legion space, veteran and market housing and a centre for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder research and treatment for veterans and first responders; Discussions underway with the Jim Pattison Development Group to bring a $150-million indoor water park and 400 room hotel family themed resort to South Surrey; Concord Pacific Development’s 41 storey LED tower Park Boulevard project. When completed it will be Canada’s first interactive illuminated residential tower, lighting up to mark the arrivals of SkyTrain at King George Station; Anthem Properties’ two million square feet development in City Centre which will transform King George Blvd and 102 Ave. with an innovative mixed use of seven residential, commercial, and office towers, retail shops, a restaurant row and vibrant urban green spaces.

With so much growth projected for Surrey, it is no wonder we are being touted as the next largest city in British Columbia.  Economic growth and city shaping as well as public safety advances were definitely the overarching themes of the previous year, and it is showing in our emerging downtown core, our strong capital program, and throughout various neighbourhoods in Surrey.

Sincerely,

Linda Hepner
Mayor

 

Mayor's Message - March 2017

Spring is in the air this week, with longer days, warmer temperatures, and flowers starting to bloom.  The last week of March not only marks the beginning of Spring, it also marks the beginning of the second quarter of the year.  With a productive first quarter, Council and I are unwavering in our constant pursuit for Surrey’s growth and success.

The release of the 2017 Federal Budget brings with it great news for Surrey with a historic investment of $2.2 billion for public transit in Metro Vancouver.  This commitment marks the largest single federal investment in our region’s transportation system in the last 20 years, allowing enough certainty that shovels will be in the ground for Phase One of the Light Rail Project by next year.

Innovation Boulevard, a partnership between the City of Surrey and SFU, was named at the recent BC Tech Summit as BC’s official accelerator for health technology.  The Federal government is also showing strong interest in Innovation Boulevard with the Minister of Innovation, Science & Economic Development and the Minister of Finance visiting in March to learn about this unique collaboration between government, business, academia and the health authority.  And I’m pleased to say that Dr. Faranak Farzan has arrived in Surrey to take on her role as Innovation Boulevard’s SFU Chair in Technology Innovations for Youth Addictions Recovery and Mental Health.

The last few weeks have had some incredible news, such as the announcement of a half million dollar endowment by the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation for Forsyth Park, which will have its grand opening later this year.  Forsyth Park will be comprised of seven and a half acres of green space in City Centre, creating a haven for those in the city.

Further, the Federal Government has invested more than $800,000 in Surrey Art, Heritage and Cultural projects, with funds going towards the Cloverdale Museum and Fusion Festival.  Although Surrey is advancing towards being a thriving metropolitan, I find it just as important to preserve, celebrate and enhance Surrey’s cultural heritage.  My sincere thanks to our federal partners for demonstrating their commitment to Surrey’s cultural advancement.

The entire nation will be celebrating Canada 150 this year.  Surrey in particular is committed to hosting free, family-friendly events. Some of the headliners we have this year include Shawn Hook at Party for the Planet, Hedley for Canada Day and Nelly Furtado for Fusion Festival.  With an exciting year of Canada 150 celebrations lined up, Surrey will be proudly displaying our national pride.

Last month, I had the privilege of attending the 1st birthday party for New Hope Community Services Society, an organization that provides housing and transition services for refugees.  New Hope truly exemplifies Surrey’s values of being an inclusive and welcoming city for people from all cultural backgrounds.

With an emerging downtown core, and investments that will move Surrey towards becoming a vibrant and complete City, the first three months of this year have seen lots of progress for Surrey.

These investments from the public and private sector and the sheer dedication of our residents towards making Surrey a great place to live are hallmarks of a growing city on the world’s stage.

Sincerely,

Linda Hepner
Mayor

Mayor's Message - January 2017

I hope that this year has been off to a good start for you.  With 2016 being a great year filled with success and accomplishment for the City of Surrey, I look forward to 2017 being another precedent-setting year.

2016 was a year of extraordinary achievements; including meeting our mandate for 100 police officers, the procurement of Phase One funding for Light Rail Transit (LRT), a meeting at City Hall with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and several awards for our Civic Facilities.  The year ended on a special note for me personally, as I had the opportunity to host a pizza lunch in my office for two elementary school classes from K.B. Woodward Elementary, an inner-city school just a few blocks from City Hall.  Council and I also had the opportunity to serve Christmas lunch at the Surrey Urban Mission.

With 2017 upon us, I will be implementing my New Year’s resolution of taking advantage of this provincial election cycle to obtain more funding for Surrey schools and to help our most vulnerable residents.

We are already off to a strong start.  I was at the Big Cities Mayors’ Caucus this past week, a meeting of Mayors from the largest cities in Canada, advocating for our municipality in the Federal Budget for 2017.  Prime Minister Trudeau was at this meeting and participated in conversations regarding the opioid crisis, housing, and for Phase Two funding for LRT.

Affordable housing is the staple of livable and globally competitive cities, and advocating for social infrastructure through a national housing policy was a top priority issue.

Additionally, I met with Surrey’s School Board Trustees earlier this month.  Together, Council and the School Board Trustees will continue lobbying the provincial government for more schools and funding for Surrey, and meet regularly to discuss projects and progress.  I’m happy to see the Provincial Government stepping up to help Surrey students with January’s announcement of 217 million dollars that will be put towards 5,200 new student seats and a project board to speed school construction.

In terms of future planning, I met with the President of UBC, Santa J. Ono to discuss UBC’s interest and opportunities in Surrey.  January also marked the announcement of a partnership with the City of Surrey and TELUS, where TELUS will be investing a quarter billion dollars into Surrey’s infrastructure network to expand fibre optic to 90% of residents and businesses over the next year.

As 2017 progresses we have a lot to look forward to, including Canada 150 and the celebrations leading up to it. From local community events to national celebrations, there are plenty of ways to celebrate all that makes us who we are as a city and a country.  Stay tuned for the City of Surrey’s first Canada 150 celebration announcement in February.

We’ve made a strong start to 2017.  There is still a lot more work to be done.  Council and I intend to keep advancing the momentum of success, accomplishments and city building.

Sincerely,

Linda Hepner
Mayor