Forget going to Hawaii this year, never mind an evening at the movies, the PNE or Disney land.
For the most fun you can have in a day, you need to join the Surrey Board of Trade’s Industry Bus Tour.
I know, it sounds like something old people do but trust me, it is the bomb.
Where else can you make new friends, network and promote your business, learn about your neighbours, do a sing-a-long, play trivia, get to go into secret places in City Hall, sit in the drivers seat of large machinery, watch someone crush a car, earn prizes and have great food while listening to an interesting speaker?
I am telling you, this is the deal of the day. You haven’t lived until you have done a Surrey Board of Trade Industry Tour.
Especially on Bus #1! Just sayin’
So maybe there was a little friendly competition between buses and maybe bus #1 had the best bus spirit and enjoyed their stops the more than the other buses. It important to get on the right bus with the right hostesses like Heather and Melissa from the Surrey Board of Trade.
Sponsored by Charter Bus Lines, the three buses were filled with enthusiastic but sleepy business people, happy to be playing hooky from their usual day at work. Coffees in hand we boarded the buses and within minutes it felt like summer camp all over again.
Our tour commentators from Lee and Associates kept us all exclaiming while they told us things we didn’t know about Surrey.
For example, did you know that the Real Estate Investment Network named Surrey the best place to invest? Did you know that Surrey is extending incentives to companies in the clean energy sector to relocate to Surrey bringing the jobs of the future to our back yard or that 2000 new businesses choose to locate in Surrey annually?
We all know that 10,000 people move into the city every year because they are always in the cars ahead of us at the entrance to the bridge but did you know that we have the largest growing school district in British Columbia or that our arts and culture community has famous artists such as glassblower, Robert Parkes and First Nations Artist, Robert Davidson as well as hundreds of talented local artists, thespians and writers.
Each stop on the tour was to highlight something innovative and interesting that our businesses in Surrey are doing.
One bus went to Finishing Trades Institute of BC, Surrey Organic Biofuel Facility and Mansonville Plastics located in Bridgeview, Port Kells and Cloverdale. Another bus went to Powertech Labs, the Honeybee Center and Astrographic Industries located in Newton and Cloverdale.
The best bus, #1 (Can you tell which bus I was on? Did I give it away?) covered City Centre, Newton, Fleetwood and Cloverdale.
We made our first stop at City Hall to see the Transportation Management Centre. Peter Lee gave us useful information about the new rapid transportation coming to Surrey and told us about the City Hall building and it’s special architectural features.
Buried deep in the basement of the building, we hummed the theme from James Bond as Peter used his special pass to take us to the bowels of the new City Hall building where we discovered that there a guys, working underground that change the patterns on the traffic lights all around the city. They help move congestion by altering the length of turning lane lights or make your green light longer or shorter.
I live on a busy corner and all this time I honestly thought the lights were demon-possessed. Sometimes the light was only 2 minutes long and other times it was 20. (Well it seemed like 20 minutes). I actually began to think that light hated me. Turned out it’s a guy named Taylor who hates me.
How unbelievably cool is that. I wanted to play with the equipment but they wouldn’t let me. Apparently you have to go to civil engineering school before you get to make the light at 64th and 152 last for 20 minutes. Who knew.
From there we went to a small industrial bay in the middle of a hundred other industrial bays. From the outside it looked unexciting. Arktos Developments. I braced myself for a boring tour of machinery that makes holes in metal things to build other bits of metal things that I don’t know anything about…and it will probably smell funny. I began to regret wearing my white runners and a Mexican sundress (We were supposed to dress for a Cinco de Mayo theme).
We gathered inside and saw the biggest, baddest amphibious, sci-fi, starwars looking, powerful mean machine on the planet. Check this out:
Check out this video and tell me you wouldn’t want to try this out.
While Darlene Seligman was telling us all about this giant machine, all I could think of was how do I get a ride in one of these in real life. This baby can go over water, ice, mud, broken buildings, Mars. Well they didn’t say Mars but I am willing to bet it could do it. The inventor, Bruce Seligman told of how the Coast Guard needed a machine that could move on both water and ice. So he built one.
With the shop all decorated for Cinco de Mayo, and offering coffee and cookies, the staff at Arktos graciously opened their shop up for us to explore.
I climbed down into the pilot’s seat, which was a trick in a long skirt, but well worth the climb.
Getting back up the ladder was even more of a trick. Good thing I still have some circus skills and the friendly hand of one of my tour companions to help pull me out. Worth every second of it. Would do it again in a heartbeat.
Apparently they take this machine out on the mud flats in Delta for testing. Guess who is going to be hitch hiking at the mud flats from now on. Before I die, I am riding in that machine.
They dragged me out there kicking and screaming back to the bus where Fortis BC representatives gave us a humorous and educational tour of the construction of the pipeline through Surrey. Some of the installation runs along the hydro right of way and is relatively easy to install. Other parts run through people’s back yards and is a lot trickier.
Of course running a pipeline under major roads like King George Highway is challenging but the company in charge has drilling under roadways listed on their resume so we are in good hands.
After that we took a rainy tour of Fraser Highway through Cloverdale and on to ABC recycling on the border of Langley and Surrey. Fitted with hard hats, jackets and safety glasses, I was really regretting my white runners but as soon as I saw the car-crushing machine, I forgot all about my white runners and ran through the mud puddles to get a closer look.
Did you know there is this giant crane that picks up metal and crushes it into cubes. He crushed a car right in front of me. You can’t believe the sound a car makes when it is dying.
I am going to find an old car just to be able to bring it here and watch them crush it.
I want to ride in that machine. It spins things around so fast. They could make more money charging for rides than they can in scrap metal. They should consider doing it on the side. I will sell tickets.
Beside the giant claw machine is another machine with a magnet that picks up metal and moves it from one pile to the next. I don’t know why he does that but it looks really cool and it changed the time on my watch. Just kidding, I don’t wear a watch but I bet guys have to hang on to their hard hats when they walk past that thing.
So…they dragged me out of there kicking and screaming and back on to the bus.
From there we went to Kwantlan Polytechnic University Tech campus in Cloverdale for a tour of the welding and electrical program rooms. This is where all the boys and girls learn to weld, plumb houses and do electrical work. It all starts here.
They offered to let somebody try to weld something but for some reason I wasn’t included in that offer. They wouldn’t let me play in the electrical room either. My reputation must have proceeded me.
The coolest place of all was the appliance repair shop. Now we know where all the appliance repair people come from. They are born in this room. You can just go down there and pick one and take him or her home with you. They do fridges, stoves microwaves, dishwashers, air conditioners, printers…ok, not printers. Printer repair people don’t exist but every appliance you can imagine was in that room. You are not actually allowed to take one home with you. I tried.
I think the university should have a take-a-student-home-to-do-home-repair program; they could fund everyone’s education with that one initiative. I will have to speak to vice president about that.
Speaking of the Vice Presidents, Marlyn Graziano, VP of External Affairs was there to greet us all and point out the unique architectural features of the building such as the beams built from beetle infested wood or the welded sculpture at the entrance. The building is so architecturally interesting.
KPU was the lunch sponsor and the food was absolutely amazing. The lunch alone would have been worth the ticket price.
While we went back for seconds and third helpings of herb chicken, orzo salad and baked potato wedges, Rowena Rizzotti of the Lark Group talked to us about the history of Innovation Blvd. and some of the interesting research developments going on in the big red building across from the hospital. I want to tour that building next. I have to see what is going on behind those doors.
Inspired by the innovation taking place in the heart of the city, stuffed with good food and surround by new friends, we re-boarded the bus for the return trip.
Forget summer camp, forget laying on the beach – for the best entertainment you can find in Surrey, get your ticket for the next Surrey Board of Trade Industry Bus Tour.
You won’t believe what goes on behind closed doors in this city.