They say the heart of a city is its downtown.
Surrey’s heart is in a strange place these days. A place in transition. A place of cranes and concrete, shiny new buildings, and money. Lots and lots of money.
In the space of six square kilometres, more than $2 billion in development is taking shape.
A new downtown is rising.
Public sector investment in the downtown core represents more than $1.16 billion.
Private sector investment is keeping pace.
More than 9,500 new homes are planned or under construction in the downtown area this year, representing more than $1.1 billion.
Construction on the tallest tower south of the Fraser, 3 Civic Plaza, will begin next year.
To someone familiar with the “Whalley” area of 10 years ago, “Surrey City Centre” will soon be unrecognizable.
But not to Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts, who along with council and city staff, has been planning this for more than a decade.
“This was purposefully done,” she told the Sunday Province. “We began as a farming community and became a residential suburb of Vancouver. Now we have a half a million people and we’re changing again.”
After Surrey was identified as B.C.’s second metro centre after Vancouver, the city began investing in its downtown.
“We realized that if we wanted investors to put money into the area, we needed to be doing the same thing,” said Watts.
“It’s not a rivalry [with Vancouver],” said the mayor. “We’re a city of families and that is crucial for planning for the future.”
Surrey’s population is 480,000 strong, and growing, by the thousands, every year.
The city is home to more than 100,000 kids and 4,200 babies are born at Surrey Memorial every year.
They say the soul of a city is its people.
If done correctly, the new Surrey will be a place they can embrace with both heart and soul.
Some of Surrey's new and ongoing developments
1. HEALTH CARE $812 million
Surrey Memorial Hospital
• Second largest hospital in B.C., admitting 400 patients per week, 21,000 patients per year
• Busiest emergency room in B.C. seeing almost 100,000 patients per year
• 4,200 babies born at SMH each year
• Employing 700 doctors, 4,000 staff
• Still to come: $512-million expansion and redevelopment (the largest capital investment in B.C. health care history)
• Includes new ER opening 2013; and eight-storey critical care tower opening 2014
• 151 new beds (for a total of 650)
• 60,000 new pieces of medical equipment: 123 stretchers, 188 thermometers, 35 microscopes
• Hiring 40 new docs, 650 staff
b. Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre
• Opened June 2011
• Five-storey, 188,000-square-foot facility featuring six operating rooms
EDUCATION $40 million
Surrey School District Education Centre
• Completed 2011
• 150,000-square-foot building holds offices for 420 school district admin staff, consolidating 27 departments from seven sites
• Surrey school district is the largest in B.C., with 123 schools and 70,439 students
CIVIC CENTRE $86 million
Surrey City Hall and Community Plaza
• Ground broken March 2011 for 200,000-square-foot, six-storey city hall
• Expected to bring 720 jobs to downtown Surrey
• An outdoor community square, dubbed a “celebration plaza” will hold 5,000 people
• Completion slated for Fall 2013
Surrey City Centre Library
• Opened September 2011
• Receives 2,000 visits per day
• 77,000-square-foot facility, with 80 public computers
Performing Arts Centre
$$$ to be announced
• Details are scarce for this Bing Thom-designed facility slated for the city centre
• Anticipated to have a flexible main stage theatre with seating for 1,600
• Studio theatre with seating for 250
• Project plans and site recommendations expected this summer
3 Civic Plaza
• 50-storey condo, office, hotel development to be Surrey’s tallest tower
• City of Surrey paid $13 million for two floors and a share of the hotel business
• 160 hotel suites
• 330 residential units
• Construction to begin 2013
• Completion by 2015
• The construction of this 1,000,000-square-foot mixed-use shopping centre, office tower and Simon Fraser University campus almost a decade ago signalled the beginning of Surrey City Centre’s redevelopment
• Shopping: 130 retail stores, 27 food options
• Offices: 25-storey tower with 4,100 employees
• Education: 7,000 students at Simon Fraser University Surrey, where a $10-million, 54,000-square-foot expansion was completed in 2011
RCMP E Division Headquarters
• Relocation of E Division from Vancouver to Surrey to bring 2,500 jobs
• Seven-storey, 819,807-square-foot facility under construction on 35-acre Green Timbers site
• $966-million P3 project is a partnership between the Canadian government and Green Timbers Accommodation Partners
• Completion by Christmas 2012
$10 million plus
Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre
• Built as a Games Prep Centre for the 2010 Olympic Games
• Adapted into a 20,000-square-foot rec centre
• Recent addition of a 3,500-square-foot seniors’ space
• New youth park contains North America’s first free-standing covered skate park
Co–editors: Larry B; Eric G; Vince Guarisco