Building Downtown Surrey Together

Today, Mayor Watts with Councillor Villeneuve, Councillor Martin, Councillor Rasode and Councillor Gill took the first step in moving City Hall to Downtown Surrey. While most people expected a shovel in the ground, Mayor Watts instead took to a Bobcat and demolished the old Surrey Corner Store in no time flat. On hand were DSBIA President Bill Rempel and DSBIA Directors James Stewart, Charan Sethi, Bob Dominick and Michael Wilson.

Expected move-in date: 2013. We can’t wait to hold our first movie night in the new civic plaza!

Who would have thought when the DSBIA Directors compiled a wishlist in 2007 that 4 of the 5 priorities for amenities in the area would already be in development? Still on the wishlist but anticipated soon – Science Building for SFU, Performing Arts Centre and a new Rec Centre.

Downtown Surrey BIA Welcomes New Board President

Bill Rempel , Vice President and General Manager of Blackwood Partners Management Corp, Central City, now heads up one of the most dynamic business communities in the Lower Mainland. Following the Business Improvement Association’s recent Annual General Meeting, Rempel moves from his VP position on the Board of Directors to take over from outgoing President, local developer and community builder, Robert Dominick.

After 25 years with an award-winning BC real estate portfolio of downtown offices, major shopping centres and industrial properties, Rempel joined Central City and the DSBIA in early 2010. A local resident for over 30 years, he brings his pivotal involvement in the Metrotown development and his CGA, BOMI Canada RPA, and Queens University Leadership education to his commitment to a thriving downtown core.

“Business Improvement Associations and Boards of Trade provide a very effective method to facilitate continual positive improvement in our communities and ensure the business voice is heard and is part of the overall decision making process,” says Rempel. “Central City is a vital component of the DSBIA and as the VP and General Manager, it is important we contribute to it, and be part of the many valuable contributions the BIA makes to our community and the City of Surrey.”

The DSBIA encompasses 60 blocks within Surrey’s core and includes 1100 businesses and property owners which contribute over $12 million in property taxes to the City of Surrey. Its mission is to facilitate business improvement. Its goal is to assist businesses and commercial property owners in Metro Surrey to build a vibrant, safe and liveable downtown.

“Bob Dominick, our outgoing President, along with our Executive Director, Elizabeth Model, have done a stellar job in developing a very close working relationship with Mayor Watts and the entire City of Surrey Team. Downtown Surrey is growing and evolving and we are proud to be part of this exciting change. The DSBIA will be an integral part of these changes as we work to ensure our area is positioned to benefit from these improvements and plan for future growth.”

McQuarrie Hunter Moves

Surrey triumphs with law firm move to City Centre

Law firm McQuarrie Hunter LLP opened for business this week from their new Surrey offices in the Central City Tower. They are now the largest law firm in Surrey.

The move brings all 27 lawyers and 60 staff members together for the first time. The firm amalgamated three offices – two from Surrey and one from New Westminster — into one central, high-functioning and comfortable space. The move will enhance client service by way of improved collaboration and mentorship opportunities among lawyers and staff. “The move to Surrey was a business decision. It brings us better operational efficiencies, the newest technology and most of all, it provides Surrey with a sizable full service law firm for business, corporate and personal matters”, explains Managing Partner, Tako van Popta. The firm also serves clients in the Lower Mainland, other parts of British Columbia and across Canada.

“The City of Surrey is pleased to welcome the reputable law firm of McQuarrie Hunter to the growing community in City Centre,” says Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts.  “Strong businesses are the backbone of our economy and make important contributions to the strength our city.  We wish McQuarrie Hunter great success in their new home.”

The firm also recently appointed its first Chief Operating Officer (COO), Catherine Jacobs. Catherine has held several executive positions, most recently as COO of Vancouver law firm Watson Goepel Maledy LLP.

McQuarrie Hunter opened its first Surrey office in the 1950s and many firm members remain actively involved in Surrey community organizations. The firm’s largest office operated in New Westminster which opened in 1967 and became the area’s largest law firm. The firm continues to support many clients and several non-profit organizations in New Westminster.

McQuarrie Hunter LLP background:

McQuarrie Hunter LLP was first founded in Surrey, BC in the  1950s.

  • The firm had a significant presence in New Westminster since 1967.
  • The firm currently has 27 lawyers and 60 staff.
  • The firm is active in the following Surrey organizations: Surrey Memorial Hospital Foundation, Surrey Chamber of Commerce, the Fraser Valley University Society, the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association, the International Rotary Club of Surrey, the Surrey Sailing Club, and Options Surrey Community Services.
  • The new office space is an entire floor at the Central City Tower and approximately 17,000 sq. ft.

Winterfest 2011

This just posted on the City of Surey’s website …

This year’s annual Winterfest event promises to be jam packed full of exciting activities and entertainment for festival goers of all ages,” said Mayor Dianne Watts. “The event will feature some of BC’s hottest bands including recording artists Hot Hot Heat and Peak Performance Project winner Kyprios, plus a broad mix of winter fun activities for the whole family.

Winter Fest in a free family event taking place on Saturday, February 26th at Central City Plaza located next to the Surrey Central Sky Train Station. Gates open at 12:00 noon with a special Olympic Flashback Celebration starting at 6:00 pm and Hot Hot heat taking the stage at 8:45 pm.Additional event highlights include:

•Outdoor synthetic-ice skating rink for free public skating
•Two performance stages
•Simulated curling centre
•Two toboggan runs
•Olympic Flashback Feature

Winterfest has become another Surrey signature event, one that is eagerly anticipated by Surrey residents of all ages,” said Councillor Linda Hepner, Chair of the Mayor’s 2010 Olympic Task Force. “The eyes of the world were focused on British Columbia for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games last February. Canada truly embraced these Games – in all corners of the country – and in Surrey, our Celebration Site was home to the RCMP Musical Ride and some of the greatest performers in the country, generating record attendance and earning the distinction of Entertainment Event of the Year in BC.

Check out the City of Surrey’s website for further details.

Bursting at the Seams

Surrey’s schools are bursting at the seams.

According the City’s first Corporate Report of 2011 the enrolment for the 2010/2011 school year is up 845 students from the previous year. The increase is the equivalent of two elementary schools.

But the only schools that have opened in 2010-2011 have been on the books prior to 2006 and as of now, no more schools in Surrey are planned.

So what does this mean? Our children will continue to be taught in portables.

In 2010, there are 206 portables at 45 different schools in Surrey. Every high school in Surrey has at least one portable, and five have more than 10. By 2015, if schools aren’t built, it is expected that there will be 266 portables, more if you add pre-kindergarten.
Given that there are no schools on the drawing board, portables at every school will be a reality.

Being taught in portables is not a desirable learning environment. But the issue is bigger than that.

Schools are funded by the Provincial Government. They have two pots of money: one for capital investment and one for operations. Schools are built through capital investment. Even though Surrey is the largest school district in BC and one of the few that is growing, the Province has not shown any plans to invest in needed infrastructure in Surrey.

When you hear that the Province funds everyone equally, they are talking about the operations funding provided per child: $6740 (plus supplemental grants for special needs). Instead of spending the $6740 per child for programming and supplies as part of their learning experience, the Surrey School District must supply portables. With 206 portables currently in use in Surrey, that means $20,600,000 has been taken away from students just to provide them with classrooms.

Does that seem fair to you?

Mayor Watts and Surrey City Council discussed this issue at the Council meeting on January 10, 2011. They don’t think it is fair and will be speaking with the Surrey Board of Education and the Minister of Education.

You can help, too.

Please contact your local MLA. The largest school district in BC needs capital investment in schools now for the future.

Rapper “Rick Ross” at Central City

Rapper “Rick Ross” To Sign Autographs At Central City, Friday January 14, 2011.

Blackwood Partners and Central City, in conjunction with Johnstar Clothing are hosting an autograph session with Miami rapper, Rick Ross. From 4pm – 6pm he will be on location at Johnstar Clothing located in the upper east section of Central City Shopping Centre in Surrey.  Those who purchase articles of clothing from Johnstar will be placed in a priority line up for autograph signing. In addition, photo opportunities are available with Rick Ross in front of a Sean John Clothing media backdrop.

TEFLON DON is more than just the title of the new fourth album by Def Jam recording artist Rick Ross – it’s a title of respect earned the hard way by the man who ruled Miami’s underground rap scene, and then came out of the shadows to make the three biggest scores of his career – when his first three albums all entered the Soundscan chart at #1 in 2006 (Port Of Miami), 2008 (Trilla), and 2009 (Deeper Than Rap). 

Rick will be performing live in Vancouver at the Gossip Night Club following the autograph signing.

 For information on Rick Ross visit:

Things are developing in Surrey City Centre

And how fast are things happening? Very fast.

If you have looked at the plans for the new Civic Centre in Surrey there is no question that Sunrise Pavilion, the senior’s centre for Whalley, is not in the plans. However, the seniors were told there was time before they would need to be relocated.

Within the last two weeks, the seniors and several other stakeholder groups in the community were advised that the relocation was going to take place much sooner than they had anticipated.  If plans go as scheduled, the seniors’ programs will be moved from Sunrise Pavilion to Chuck Bailey Centre in September 2011.

This move is necessary as the new road (103 Avenue) and the underground parking planned as part of the new Civic Development will substantially decrease the parking in the area until the development is complete. The lack of parking will impact the ability of the seniors to use the building.

Chuck Bailey Centre will be renovated to accommodate the move.  So in addition to the Youth Skate Park taking shape at the south end of the facility, there will also be an addition to the year-old facility as  most of the patio on the second floor is enclosed to add space for the senior’s arts equipment, billiards tables and multi-purpose space. Lots of building going on!

Laurie Cavan, General Manager of Parks & Recreation for the City of Surrey, will be meeting with the seniors’ groups as well as the community in January 2011 to insure that their needs are being addressed before the move takes place.  

Given the growth of the area, additional expansion of the Chuck Bailey Centre is predicted.

Concord Pacific

Concord Pacific Comes to City Centre

Canada’s largest developer joins the future-forward team of community builders in Surrey’s downtown core with Park Place, its latest master-planned community. With the first two of six towers slated for completion in late June 2011, Concord Pacific will play a leading role in creating livable and sustainable urban ‘villages’ in Surrey. This strongly aligns with the City’s and community’s vision of a Live-Work-Play environment.

“In the next 20 years, more than a million people will come to the Lower Mainland and 70% will be going south of the Fraser,” says Grant Murray, VP of Sales for Concord Pacific Developments Inc. “We look at all areas that have great opportunity where we can build a whole community and City Centre is an ideal location with a clear vision for a city core, incredible amenities, spectacular views, and easy access to major arterial routes and Skytrain.

“We’re defining a different kind of lifestyle; an urban environment with highrises, parks, entertainment, shopping, performing arts, concentrated in a small area which gives vibrancy to the city core.”

“When you work with a city with a Master Plan you get to be very purposeful; a very unique situation,” says Peter Udzenija, Manager of Project Marketing, and

Project Manager for Park Place. “The 6,000 professional people coming into the Surrey city core through the RCMP, Fraser Health, and major businesses, will experience a whole new diverse urban community. We’ve been blown away by what’s going on here.”

The City’s and senior governments’ $5billion dollar investment in Surrey’s infrastructure in the last few years, including SFU, City Hall, Holland Park, hospital expansions, Central City Tower, roads upgrade, main library, rec centre, festivals, and civic plaza, has set the stage for a planned city core unique in the world.

 Concord Pacific is committed to building 2300 suites in six City Centre towers. The three-quarters-sold two current towers will reach 36 stories with 700 suites at an affordable range of prices and sizes and offer amenities like concierge, fitness, theatres, and bowling alley.


PriceWaterhouseCoopers Cashes In On City Centre

Price WaterhouseCoopers is marking its hundred years of excellence serving Canada’s accounting and financial needs with a major move to Surrey’s Central City Tower in summer, 2011. For the first time, the downtown Vancouver and Guildford offices of this worldwide business financials giant will be brought together on the 14th floor. By summer 2012, their full complement of 150 industry specialists will be part of a rapidly growing population of professionals and services enjoying Central City Tower’s billion-dollar view.

“This is a highly desirable area and building, and a magnet for other businesses in the future. We wanted to be part of it as early as possible,” says Rod Johnston, corporate finance specialist and Managing Partner of Price Waterhouse’s Guildford location. “ We specifically focused on the Central City Tower as the best one to be in with its proximity to SFU, Skytrain, City Hall, and its future as the financial hub of the Lower Mainland. This is a very strategic move for us.

“The Central City Tower is the best office tower in all of BC in terms of quality and the view is better than anything in downtown Vancouver or anywhere in the Lower Mainland.”

Begun in 1849 in the UK and 1907 in Canada, PriceWaterhouseCoopers International Ltd is one of the “big four” accounting firms with 766 offices in a worldwide network of 154,000 people in 153 countries, and more than 5,200 partners and staff across Canada. In 2008 PWC collectively generated US$25.2 billion in aggregated revenues.

Mayor Watts

Mayor Watts – Looking Forward to the New Year

Mayor Watts gave us an early Christmas present when she announced she would be running for another term as Mayor of Surrey and not jumping into Provincial politics.

Over the last five years, Watts has grown into her role a Mayor and leader for our City. Recently she was recognized worldwide as the 4th best Mayor in the World.

When asked what her immediate plans are, she replied, “The redevelopment of our town centres and the City Centre certainly is top of mind. The transportation issues are absolutely key and making sure that our Economic Investment Action Plan is really positioned in a way where we are attracting the jobs that we need to have within the City of Surrey to insure that our population has jobs close to home”

Watts has identified “the funding of transportation and the need for extensive transportation South of the Fraser” as the key challenges looking forward to 2011.

“The challenge is that mega projects were implemented in other areas of the Lower Mainland which we all support. Now is the time for South of the Fraser to have that infrastructure. We can be very innovative and very flexible. We don’t need these multibillion dollar Cadillac infrastructure pieces. We can do a lot with looking in our community and looking at how we connect it internally because 80% of the trips are within the South of the Fraser region.”

Surrey is investing in City Centre with the new Library and City Hall. There are plans for a performing arts centre and the eventual relocation of the North Surrey Arena. The City will continue to invest special events, like Fusion Fest and Winterfest. But the City can’t do everything. 

“I would definitely like to partner with both the provincial and federal governments on a performing arts centre, on a convention centre and most certainly looking at different types of infrastructure. We have been very lucky in terms of securing dollars for roads and bridges and that type of hard infrastructure but now we need to look at our arts and culture.”

 With a young and growing population, Watts identifies education as another challenge for the upcoming year. “We really need to make sure that we are properly funded in terms of education and capital plans for building additional schools.”

Another project Watts has identified for 2011 is the entrance or gateway to Surrey from New Westminster. “One of the areas that we really need to foster is the businesses in the Bridgeview area. I think that has continued to be a challenge and working more closely with those businesses is key to all of us moving forward. “

When talking about the people of Surrey, Watts feels that “In the City of Surrey we are extraordinarily blessed to have the kind of volunteers and the business community that we have. I think that in everything that we do, from creating events and festivals, business events, everybody participates. It speaks to the Surrey Spirit and who we are as a community. I am very proud what we have been able to accomplish over the years and I would encourage people to continue with that, because the most valuable thing you can give of yourself is time.”

Watts has modest personal goals for 2011. “I’m looking forward to some time off with my family. As we know next year is an election year so I’ll have my little break in the spring and that is about it.”

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