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BC’s Largest Earth Day Celebration Kicks Off The 2017 Festival Season in Surrey

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On Saturday our family went to the ‘Party for the Planet’, BC’s largest Earth Day celebration at the Surrey City Hall Plaza. This was an all ages free event organized by the City of Surrey offering a wide variety of activities, informative programs and entertainment. There was something for everyone ranging from the tree tips at the BC Plant Health Care booth, the Regeneration Light bulb Recycle Zone to the stories at the Eco dome and the Nature Play booth spreading awareness about natural surroundings through kids crafts. “These events remind of simple ways to connect with the earth, to experience nature and thus learn to value and conserve it too” were the words of one participant at the event who did not wish to be named.

Our first stop was at the ‘Metro Vancouver Region Parks’ booth where my daughter met a salmon fish! Lisa, Park Interpreter at Metro Vancouver informed us that Metro Vancouver’s regional parks system covers over 14,000 ha of protected land and welcomes millions of visitors annually. “This year is the Regional Parks’ 50th anniversary. People get to enjoy the parks, go on trails and hikes, and connect with our environment” said Lisa. Surrey residents can visit the Tynehead regional park and there is a special event coming up on May 13th at this park to mark the Salmon Send-Off

The ‘Sustainable Tiny House’ set up by the BC Tiny House Collective attracted my attention. The little house on display was made from recycled materials sourced at construction sites. Apparently this house belongs to Samantha Gambling the co-founder of the Tiny House Collective and she had opened it up for visitors on this day to highlight the advantages of a smaller footprint. Her house is ten feet wide, 22 long, on wheels and 320 square feet.

This was a unique and powerful way to promote creative alternative housing options and get us all to think about our living spaces in the context of climate change and rising costs.“The concept of Tiny living is to promote a more affordable and sustainable way to live.

You can also customize how these houses are built for accessibility and personal preference” said Stephanie Groz, a volunteer with the Collective. “And of course it takes less time to clean and less energy to heat” she added.

That definitely had an extra appeal! Perhaps embracing such small homes and the simple lifestyle will also encourage people to increasingly make use of communal spaces for a more social life too rather than being at home alone in the company of their numerous electronic devices.

Meanwhile the boys had headed straight to check out the electric car on display at the ‘Emotive’ stall. “We are here to promote electric vehicles as a viable alternative now for people looking to buy a car. You can go for 150 km in this car for as little as $2” explained Brendon James of the Emotive Campaign displaying a electric Kia car costing $35,000 for a basic model. The electric vehicles are currently free to recharge at various municipal or BC Hydro set up stations in the city. At such stations It takes 30 minutes to charge 80% of the battery which is optimum. The car can also be charged using a standard 110V or 220V plug in at home overnight. As part of this outreach campaign the provincial government is incentivizing potential buyers of an electric vehicle with grants up to $5,000.

My children were fascinated with the acts of children’s artists like Dustin Anderson aka the purple pirate more so than the main stage featuring crowd pulling local artists such as Juno Award-nominated Shawn Hook , vocalist Adam Robert Thomas and many more. Indeed the list of who’s who was never ending. For our family shaking hands with BC Plant’s Ladybug mascot was the high point of the trip!

Our last stop was at the ‘Environmental Extravaganza’ to learn about some of the hundreds of free nature related events they are running from April 22 to June 11 including guided explorations of Surrey’s scenic parks and shorelines, tree planting celebrations and park clean-up parties, environmental workshops, nature story times at your local Surrey Library branch and many more! So the celebration continues.

Asmita has been blogging for several years about food security, travels, faith, arts and culture. She enjoys community reporting to participate in the local conversation. She founded ‘Culture Chats’ promoting social connections through shared interests in literary and other arts. Asmita has over ten years’ experience in marketing and communications. Her professional interests include business strategy and relations, research and community development. Her family and two little ones are the center of her world.

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City of Surrey Media Release – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update from Mayor Doug McCallum – March 23

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The battle against COVID-19 is in a critical phase.

I want to personally thank and commend the citizens of Surrey who have been doing their part. Over the last few days, I have personally observed that the vast majority of our citizens are taking personal responsibility by staying home or when outside, strictly adhering to social distancing measures. I am proud at how the citizens of Surrey have remained vigilant, calm and, most importantly, taken personal responsibility in this collective fight against COVID-19. My sincere thanks to everyone who is carrying out their civic duty by exercising good judgement and common sense during these challenging times.

Unfortunately, there are still individuals who are willfully ignoring the orders and measures issued by the Provincial Health Officer, such as gathering in large groups both in public spaces or at home.

The time has long passed to be cavalier about COVID-19. As we hear daily, the gravity of the situation is severe. No one has a cloak of invincibility against the virus. To the few who are defying the Provincial Health Officer’s orders, advice and measures, I implore you to stop. Carrying on with this kind of behavior is selfish, and you are risking the health and well-being of your family, friends, and everyone in our community. We are in the process of finalizing enforcement measures and penalties for those who continue to defy the orders and measures.

City of Surrey recreation centres, city playgrounds, city skateparks, city sports courts for team sports such as basketball, lacrosse/ball hockey, civic ice arenas, culture facilities, museums, public pools, and libraries are closed until further notice.

City of Surrey parks and beaches remain open, but all users must be following proper social distancing measures.

We can and will get through this challenging time, but everyone must come together and do their part.

  • All gatherings (indoors or outdoors) over 10 people are discouraged.
  • Social distancing by keeping about two meters (six feet) from one another.
  • Use virtual options to connect with others
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Using soap and water is the single most effective way of reducing the spread of infection.
  • Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing
  • Stay home when you are sick.

Thank You
Mayor Doug McCallum

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update from Mayor Doug McCallum City Services and Operations

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The impact COVID-19 is having on our everyday life is unprecedented.

All of us are adjusting to new measures and approaches in how we go about our daily lives and how we interact with one another. With this in mind, I want to assure our citizens that the core services and operations that the City of Surrey provides are being maintained for the well-being and safety of our community with measures put in place to keep our staff and front line responders safe.

While we are doing everything to ensure for a smooth continuation, I would ask the people of Surrey for their patience given the fast-changing nature of events.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Surrey RCMP and Surrey Fire are taking proactive steps to ensure that the safety of Surrey residents will not be compromised.

Front line policing is the top priority with resources shifted to ensure for response to Priority 1 emergency and 911 calls, managing prolific offenders in the community, maintaining a highly visible police presence in the city and protecting Surrey’s most vulnerable with RCMP and Mental Health Outreach Team operating at full capacity.

Surrey Fire Service is, currently, at normal service levels and all Surrey Fire Halls are at full operational strength to respond to emergency and 911 calls. Surrey Fire has contingency plans in place to ensure maximum response capability is maintained.

Starting Monday, March 23rd, all city run day camps will be shut down.

Also, starting Monday, the two daycares located at civic facilities will be shut down to the public in order to prioritize space for health workers, first responders and essential service workers.

As part of the City’s COVID-19 pandemic response, modifications have been made to our customer service counters at City Hall such as the requirement to use to use hand sanitizer stations upon entry and exit from City Hall. To protect our staff, as of yesterday afternoon, the City has begun implementing remote work options that ensure employee safety while maintaining full continuity in City operations.

I want to stress that while you may see a change in how business is conducted at City Hall, the business of the City has not stopped.

For example, the Planning and Development Department are prioritizing permit applications to expedite issuance for simple permits. Remote inspections have been expanded to enhance social isolation opportunities while keeping projects going.

As of tomorrow, a call centre to direct planning, development and building inquiries and to make appointments that would normally take place at City Hall will be in operation, so our clients will not have to come to City Hall. The phone number for the planning, development and building call centre inquiries is 604 591 4086.

Ensuring that business continues is vital in the days ahead, that’s why the City has approved infrastructure construction to proceed for the Anniedale Tynehead NCP. This new infrastructure represents $35M dollars worth of construction and the project itself will bring more housing choices to Surrey. The funds for the infrastructure has been paid by the developer.

City staff have also been taking stock of large format industrial space that could potentially be used to set up temporary hospitals, or as space for production lines to manufacture essential medical equipment, or for warehousing of essential resources.

There have also been a lot of questions regarding property taxes. We are actively working with the Province on what can be done on this front and we will update you as soon as we can.

As we all know now, events are changing everyday, and I can assure you that the City of Surrey will adapt accordingly.

While our recreational facilities are closed during this time, we have begun to put up videos of classes that you can do at home. We just launched the videos last night and we are continually adding to it, which includes resources from our libraries, museums, and galleries. I want to thank our Parks, Recreation and Culture staff for the great and quick work they are doing on this front.

In the meantime, I continue our residents to enjoy our outdoor spaces including our parks, playgrounds, and beaches. Get out in the fresh air but do so by being mindful of social distancing. Use your judgement, Surrey is a big city, there are many outdoor spaces you can make use of while keeping social distancing intact.

I want to conclude by saying that I am proud of our residents for their calm and resolve during this time. We will get through this because we are all in this together.

We should also take a moment to thank the people who are working on our behalf during this time. From health care staff and front-line emergency responders, to the grocery clerk and transit operators,

everyone who is going to work to keep us safe, our kitchen pantries full, I want to thank you. I also want to encourage everyone to take a moment and send a message of thanks and support for their efforts they are doing on our behalf.

Thank you.
Mayor Doug McCallum

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Surrey Libraries Online Library Still Open for Business

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Surrey, BC – While Surrey Libraries branches may be closed temporarily, registered patrons can still access digital books and media from home using mobile devices or computers and laptops. If you’ve never browsed Surrey Libraries’ online library before, now is the perfect opportunity to try something new.

If you’re looking for books to read or listen to, find eBooks, eMagazines and downloadable audiobooks for all ages in our library catalogue (https://surrey.bibliocommons.com/) or on our Books and Media page (https://www.surreylibraries.ca/books-media).

Stream an amazing collection of movies and documentaries through Kanopy, access the largest online collection of classical music, operas, and ballets in the world through Medici TV, or tune into Access Video on Demand to watch hundreds of classic and contemporary feature films from around the globe. Find these resources as well as streaming movies for children on our Books and Media page (https://www.surreylibraries.ca/books-media).

Surrey Libraries also offers online resources to help stay connected to the latest news with up-to-date articles and magazines (https://www.surreylibraries.ca/books-media#B). Press Reader contains over 1,000 different newspapers from various countries and in many languages. Flipster and RBDigital provide access to hundreds of magazines, including titles on entertainment, lifestyle, current events, and science and technology. There are also online courses for adults in everything from writing to computer programming and applications via Lynda.com, Kanopy Great Courses and Gale courses. Find out more on these at https://www.surreylibraries.ca/services/adult-learners.

Kids can also keep busy with online streaming and educational resources form the library. The Kids and Families (https://www.surreylibraries.ca/services/kids-families#A) page has Access Video on Demand – Just for Kids with streaming videos that will keep kids entertained at home. Kanopy Kids is another database that offers movies, TV series, and storytimes. Kanopy Kids also offers many educational videos in topics such as math, science, and languages.

Information on online library resources is available at
www.surreylibraries.ca/news/getting-started-our-online-library.

And for the full alphabetical list of databases that Surrey Libraries offers, visit the online library page (https://www.surreylibraries.ca/services/online-library).

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update from Mayor Doug McCallum

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As you have heard from the statements made today by Prime Minister Trudeau and our Provincial Health Minister and Health Officer, increased measures are being taken in the fight against COVID-19.

The City of Surrey has taken steps to minimize the risk of transmission of the virus. Yesterday afternoon, I ordered the closure of all City recreation centres, ice arenas, culture facilities, museums, pools and libraries until further notice. This was a proactive measure that was done in in the best interests of public health.

For the time being, spring break camps and daycare facilities run by the City of Surrey are continuing based on the most current guidelines provided by the Provincial Health Officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control. These programs are a valuable service to families who are working during this unprecedented time of COVID-19. We know the situation is fluid and we are monitoring it closely with Fraser Health. If the continued programming of our day camps and daycares is deemed unsafe for our children or staff, they will be shut down immediately.

In these anxious times, we all need to look out for one another, that is why I am so disheartened when I hear of hoarding or panic buying of basic items and, worst of all, reports of people who are reselling these items to make a quick buck.

To the storeowners and retailers who sell items in high demand, I urge you to put limits on them.

To those who are stockpiling or reselling, I appeal to your basic humanity to stop this kind of behaviour because it’s not only irrational but you are benefiting at the expense of someone in your community.

As we head into this next phase of the fight against COVID-19, it is vital that we have the self-discipline to follow through with the health protocols that have been put in place to minimize the spread of the virus. I also want to remind everyone to take care of themselves both physically and mentally.

It can be easy to be overwhelmed by the daily rush of events, that’s why it’s important to stay active by getting some fresh air. Take a walk, go for a run or a bike ride in our beaches and parks. Conversely, getting adequate sleep is equally important.

With our recreational programs affected by the closure, the City of Surrey will be posting on our website, in the next few days, videos by our fitness and yoga instructors that can be done at home. I hope our residents make use of them to help them stay active and mentally healthy.

Finally, I want to make special mention of our seniors. They are one sector of the population where I ask everyone to do their bit to support them. Yes, we have to be mindful of social distancing, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose all human connection. So, pick up your phone and make a call, or facetime, or text a loved one or a friend.

The best way to get through this is if we come together and look out for one another.

Mayor Doug McCallum

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City Council amends bylaws to support fair competition among vehicles for hire and approves IMBL for ride-hailing

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Surrey City Council amends bylaws to support fair
competition between taxi and ride-hailing companies.

Council supports Inter-Municipal Business License for ride-hailing.

Surrey, BC – City Council approved several amendments to modernize the City’s Vehicle for Hire and Business Licence Bylaws with the aim of establishing fair competition in Surrey between ride-hailing vehicles and the highly regulated taxi industry. Council also approved the Inter-Municipal Business License (IMBL) for ride-hailing at last night’s Regular Council meeting.

“I am pleased that Council approved the amendments to our City bylaws to support a level playing field between taxis and ride-hailing vehicles,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “We are doing what we can within the City’s jurisdiction to create equitable competition between taxis and ride-hailing companies. I will continue to advocate that the Province and the Passenger Transportation Board do their part in supporting a fair competitive market for those employed in these industries.”

City Council endorsed the following improvements to City bylaws to ensure that all passenger directed vehicles, including taxicabs, reflect the same regulatory environment as provided in the IMBL to the extent possible under the City’s jurisdiction:

  • The fees for Surrey taxicabs will be reduced from the current $161.75 in company fees and $441 annual fee per taxicab to match the licencing fee structure of the IMBL. Taxicabs in Surrey will now pay the same fee as their ride-hailing counterparts of a company fee of $155, plus a per vehicle fee of $150 for each vehicle. The same incentives are provided to zero emission taxicabs, with a reduction to $30 per vehicle, and the fee waived for wheelchair accessible taxis.
  • Council has also approved taxicabs to travel in marked bus lanes, as well as allow wheelchair accessible taxicabs to park in accessible parking spots while loading and/or unloading passengers in City-owned parking lots. The City has no parking enforcement jurisdiction within privately owned parking lots.
  • The maximum age of a taxicab vehicles has been increased from 7 years to 10 years to match PTB requirements for ride-hailing vehicles.
  • The PTB will perform vehicle inspections on all passenger directed vehicles annually for vehicles that travel more than 40,000 km per year, and biannually for vehicles that travel less than 40,000 km per year. In addition, all taxicabs will now receive inspection via the PTB.

The Corporate Report can be viewed in its entirety here.

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