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Economic Investment Action Plan - Phase 2

The City of Surrey will continue to foster strong economic growth through capital investment and strategic partnerships, and will focus on supporting the expansion and investment in clean technology industries, announced Mayor Dianne Watts in her State of the City Address to the Surrey Board of Trade, and the Cloverdale and White Rock-South Surrey Chambers of Commerce.

Mayor Watts unveiled Phase 2 of the City of Surrey’s Economic Investment Action Plan on March 31, 2010. The new six-point plan will reinforce Surrey’s position as a premier investment location and leader in the sustainability sector.

“The recession has been a catalyst for change and we had to re-examine the way we conducted business,” added Watts. “With the lowest business taxes in the region, Surrey has always been a good place to invest. But, we want to make sure that we’re doing everything possible to encourage new job-creating investments. Surrey has taken a very proactive approach to strengthening our economy, and it’s paying off.”

In Phase 2, the City is implementing the multi-million dollar Build Surrey program, which features construction of the new City Centre Library and Surrey City Hall. The multi-year plan will see new capital projects, such as recreation centres, artificial turf fields, pedestrian and cycling trails, police and fire facilities, and new parkland developed across the city.

Phase 2 also includes the implementation of a Clean Energy Hub. The City will provide incentives to encourage clean technology companies to establish and grow in Surrey. These incentives include eliminating municipal property taxes for three years, reducing building permit fees by 50%, and reducing the business license fee to $1 for the first three years of operation.

“Like our original economic investment zones, which were the first in BC, our Clean Energy Hub is aimed at giving companies every reason to consider Surrey first,” says Watts.

To demonstrate its commitment to clean energy, the City will be undertaking a number of sustainable projects, including constructing a new biofuel facility, greening its vehicle fleet, building the region’s first Eco-Centre, developing a new Corporate Energy and Emissions Action Plan, and exploring the possibility of district heating.

In Phase 2, the City will focus on establishing Business Incubator Areas and creating strategic partnerships. It will also work on creating efficiencies by reviewing regulations, processes and procedures, with a view to eliminating those that are antiquated.

The final component of Phase 2 is the Economic Investment Zone extension. The incentives that were announced in 2009, and were designed to encourage investment in the City Centre and Bridgeview/South Westminster Economic Investment Zones, will be extended for an additional year through to March 31, 2011.

“There was a very positive response to the investment zones,” added Watts. “Currently, there are around 50 projects, worth approximately $1 billion, going through the approval process in our City Centre, and 12 of them qualify for the incentives.”

“Surrey is in strong financial shape with no debt and healthy financial reserves,” explained Watts. “Last year, we saw nearly $900 million in residential, commercial, industrial and institutional construction, almost $250 million more than predicted at the start of the year. And, this increased construction activity has carried into 2010.”

Emphasizing Surrey’s ability to shape its own future, Watts said TownShift, the international ideas competition launched by the City to help design and define Surrey’s town centres, attracted 138 entries from 21 countries.

“TownShift was an interesting international exercise where we looked across Canada and around the world for design ideas that we can incorporate here at home,” says Watts.

Concluding her State of the City Address, Watts thanked the volunteers and City staff who organized Surrey’s participation in the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

“The 2010 Games left lasting community, business and generational legacies,” says Watts. “Our Celebration Site attracted over 300,000 people and reinforced the importance of Holland Park as our city’s downtown gathering place. And, our exclusive relationship with Right to Play allowed our 70,000 school children to participate in the Olympic experience and make a difference in global citizenry.”

Watts added that a section of the Whistler Athletes Village will be shipped to Surrey and turned into 52 units of seniors housing. And, Surrey’s Games Preparation Centre has become the new Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre.

“When we say ‘The Future Lives Here’, we mean it. It starts with innovative ideas and solutions that move us forward as a city,” says Watts. “Governments can and should be a catalyst for change. By working with the private sector, we can implement that change and build stronger communities.”