FOLLOWING eight months of public consultation, the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association (DSBIA) on Thursday released the results of its 2020 Our Surrey Vision community engagement project. The report indicates that while most survey respondents are positive about the City’s future, marked improvements to the Downtown core could give Surrey a more “unique” feel, independent of other big cities like Vancouver.
After collecting and analyzing feedback from over 1,300 surveys and 4,000 in-person discussions, the DSBIA identified seven important themes: Transportation, Safety, Built Environment and Public Space, Services and Businesses, Community, Entertainment, and Affordability.
“We are so incredibly pleased with the feedback that we received from the community during this campaign,” said DSBIA CEO Elizabeth Model. “What we’re hearing is transportation and safety remain key areas in need of improvement, but our community’s appreciation of its diversity and other unique strengths cannot be overstated. We have clear initiatives to work towards and collaborations between the City and community are necessary in order to turn this new and exciting vision for Downtown Surrey into a reality.”
Fifty-four per cent of survey respondents rated their experience in Downtown Surrey as “positive”. When asked “What are THREE words you would like to use to describe your Downtown Surrey in FIVE years?” the word ‘safe’ was mentioned more than any other descriptor.
Many respondents expressed an interest in more multicultural events, highlighting Surrey’s unique mix of cultures and backgrounds as one the City’s biggest assets. 86 per cent of respondents mentioned events like Fusion Fest and Canada Day as great ways to bring the community together.
Transportation-related responses focused on accessibility, vehicle sharing, road congestion, biking, walking, and extended transit options, with 55 per cent of respondents expressing the need for more frequent buses. Transportation and bus connectivity to other Town Centres within Surrey were seen as the highest priority for residents moving forward.
Fifty-two per cent of respondents also suggested having car-sharing or ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft as a way to improve commuting woes. Individuals noted long wait times for taxis as one reason for the need to introduce these services. Ensuring that both ride-sharing and hailing services were accessible for people with disabilities was also noted.
Suggestions for an improved Downtown core included public art instillations, more green spaces, as well as the development of a theme park or an entertainment district that is walkable – filled with games, stores, shops, restaurants, an arts centre, and a movie theatre. Breweries / pubs / bar / craft beer restaurants were also suggested.
Launched in June 2019 by the DSBIA, the survey sought community feedback in an effort to develop an accurate vision of what the Surrey community wants for their Downtown core. The feedback was gathered using a mixture of modern engagement strategies and techniques, coupled with old fashioned methods of asking people for their ideas in-person.
The Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association’s primary goal is to assist businesses and commercial property owners in the Downtown Surrey area to build a safe and vibrant community, with a livable downtown area. For more information visit downtownsurreybia.com.