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Surrey mayor outlines dramatic changes to spur city economy

March 12th, 2009 · 7 Comments

A month ago, I did a story about cities thinking about ways to entice developers into building again. At that point, there were a lot of rumblings coming out of Vancouver about bold new possibilities for luring developers into building, especially building affordable housing, while Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts was still pondering.

Yesterday, Dianne came out with her plan, which had more definite and radical proposals than what Vancouver has cooked up so far. Vancouver and every other municipality is now going to have developers asking them: Why can’t you do what Surrey is doing?

Kelly Sinoski did a comprehensive story in the Sun on the announcement.

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  • gmgw

    My in-laws live in south Surrey; hence I’ve been a regular visitor to that blighted community for more than two decades. I find the thrust of this story to be quite comical, in the most cynical sense of the word. There is arguably no community in the Lower Mainland, apart from, perhaps, central Vancouver, where developers have had a freer hand than in Surrey in recent years; the community has seen hundreds and hundreds of acres of arable farmland and forest been paved over and covered in Wal-Marts, Canadian Tires, and endless bland housing developments. The level of development and densification in many areas– and I emphasize that I’ve spent most of my time in once-rural, once-attractive south Surrey– has been at once breathtaking and deeply disturbing. And it continues. To have Mayor Watts, who has repeatedly and mendaciously claimed that she is in favour of slow and measured growth, announce these new incentives for developers merely means that the already-extant sweet deal for said developers has now been made even sweeter. The hypocrisy and outright BS being generated by the city of Surrey relating to this issue is of such quantity that Mayor Watts will soon need to borrow a few bulldozers from her developer buddies in order to spread it around more effectively. If these development incentives indeed become a model for development guidelines in other Metro municipalities, we’re all screwed.

  • Not running for mayor

    I’m not a big fan of Surrey to be honest but I will give them kudos on this. They are hoping to capatilizing on a time when developers are very nervous about Vancouver’s current council. This announcement will certainly grab the attention of some of those developers and the rest you can bet will be watching as things progess. Wether or not this will be inn Surrey’s best interest long term I can’t say, but it will certainly hurt Vancouver short term.

  • Wagamuffin

    Didn’t someone mention on another thread that Vancouver council was more interested in pursuing condos than commercial? We have heard from some of those d3eveloper pals on his real estate committee—they say they cannot make money on commercial buildings, or rental buildings. Only $1000 per sf condos. This is hardly the way to a more affordable city. And without a commercial base growing here, where do Vancouverites work? Surrey? And they will get there, how? What happened to living and working near home?

    So, are we to become a (shudder) bedroom community to Surrey?

  • LP

    Waggy (Can I call you Waggy?),

    I agree completely. With the current direction we will become a shudder community to Surrey.

    I’ll add one thought. One of my biggest beefs is the attempt at controlling where we shop and how we get there. Back in the cope days their vehement opposition to the Walmart on Marine was insane.

    If you want people to live, work and shop all within a short distance (a.k.a being green), you need to give people the opportunity to do so.

    We live in a world that gives us the freedom of choice and yet the fringes (of either side) like the idea of restricting them and telling us what’s best.

    Limiting people’s options in a free society, is the surest method of ruining the community, not saving it. Unfortunately some just don’t get that.

  • Wagamuffin

    LP, you may call me anything you want.

    God (or the diety of your choice) knows, everyone else does.

  • LP while I agree with you somewhat, that the lack of commercial development in the City is a bad thing,

    providing incentives to developers is not the answer, the amenities received from developers go a long way in maintaining a livable city, through the provision of parks, new infrastructure etc…

    the fact that the City of Surrey is making it easier to do this is a joke.

  • I’d like to add my two cents. While this constant fear of us becoming a bedroom community to Surrey is on everyones mind. I don’t see it happening. For one there are some 270,00 jobs in Vancouver proper (excluding UBC and the Airport). Surrey has like 30,000 jobs right now, which is a joke for a community that big. They will be the Valley’s economic engine but will not be bigger than downtown Vancouver. Heck the Broadway corridor has more jobs than Surrey.

    Kudos to Surrey for their ambition, but I would not work there, not in the forseeable future. No amount of money could lure me into Whalley.

    Here is a link of the Metro Vancouver regional plan its a good read (its a draft):
    http://www.metrovancouver.org/planning/development/LRSPreview/LRSPDocs/DraftRGSFeb2009.pdf

    great blog btw!