IN the annual State of the City Address, Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum highlighted how Surrey has withstood the unprecedented strain of COVID-19 and is now pressing forward to deliver a variety of initiatives and programs passed by Council.
While holding property tax increases for the third year in a row to 2.9%, the appeal to build in Surrey has remained high. The City recorded $1.46 billion in building permit value in 2020, surpassing the 10-year annual average. Residential building continues to be very strong, making up for $1.1 billion of the construction value. Industrial building permits were just shy of the record-breaking 2019 revenue at $238 million last year.
McCallum emphasized that the 2021 Budget was built with the future in mind. Sixteen new capital projects have been funded, which will benefit everyone in Surrey. These projects will break ground or begin construction this year.
“These facilities, like the new Community Centre in Newton, have been long overdue and Council is changing that,” said McCallum. “As a City, our residents and businesses have been resilient in these unprecedented times, and now is the time to push forward and invest in much needed services for our residents, while creating jobs and helping our local economy.”
Since McCallum took office, significant investments have been made in Surrey’s roads and utility infrastructure. More than a half billion in public projects have been invested in the following:
- $300 million in regional water and solid waste infrastructure
- $200 million of City capital projects and
- A record $77 million in Federal Funding, which is the largest federal contribution ever awarded to Surrey, for the Disaster Mitigation Adaptation Fund. This program is to prepare the City, over the long term, for the impacts of climate change and sea level rise.
McCallum also updated the City’s transition to a municipal police service.
He said: “I am proud to say that the Surrey Police Service is established and recognized as a police service in BC. In just two and a half years, a city police force for Surrey has gone from concept to reality. I fully expect to see some boots on the ground by this fall.”
Since hiring Surrey Police Service Chief Norm Lipinski, his team has been hard at work filling out the senior leadership team. Recruiting and hiring is now underway for a variety of both sworn and civilian positions to keep the work moving forward. The look of the Surrey Police Service is also being established, with the completion of the Surrey Police badge being given Royal Assent. With that complete, the design of the Surrey Police vehicles is underway and will be unveiled soon.
The State of the City provided an update on the Surrey-Langley SkyTrain extension, with the partnership agreements and business case completed. All three levels of government are committed to the project and 85% of people canvassed have said they will ride it.
Highlighted in the speech were the number of green initiatives that have been put in place since McCallum took office:
- In 2020, the City planted 3,600 shade trees and 6,500 native trees for a total of over 10,200 new trees in the City.
- To help protect trees from being illegally cut, Council has substantially increased the fines for the illegal cutting of significant, specimen, and protected trees.
- Recognizing the importance of Surrey’s green ecosystem, Council has planned for the long term by approving a 10-year investment of $131 million for the City’s Biodiversity Conservation Strategy.
- In November 2021, a ban on plastic bags and foam containers will come into affect.
- The City will be adding another 40 Level 2 public charging stations and 3 fast charging stations at 12 City Facilities over the next five years, to support electric vehicle ridership.
- Now in it’s third year, the City’s Love Where You Live campaign is more popular than ever, with 7,000 bags of litter being removed from City streets since the campaign’s inception.
McCallum noted: “The progress that we have made through the pandemic is indicative of Surrey’s resilience and proof that we are moving, at a great pace, in the right direction. People are coming to Surrey, big companies are relocating here, and I am not the least bit surprised. I have known Surrey has always been destined for greatness because of this simple fact, our City’s potential is endless.”
The full State of the City Address presentation will be available at www.surrey.ca.
A downloadable format of the show is available here.