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The 5th Anniversary Of Fvded In The Park Brings Top Talent



The Best Line-Up Yet For One of Western Canada’s Top Music Festival

Vancouver, B.C. Blueprint and Live Nation Canada present what is sure to be the best FVDED in the Park to date. Headlining the summer’s IT festival are:

Khalid | Zedd

Tory Lanez | French Montana | Louis The Child | RL Grime 6LACK | Lil Yachty | A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie | Kayzo | Lauv  Green Velvet | Lil Mosey | Ekali | JOYRYDE | Shoreline Mafia | Elohim SAINt JHN | Yung Gravy | Cedric Gervais | Elephante | Gashi | Felix Cartal Say My Name | Anders | 1788-L | Gammer | Channel Tres | Dr. Fresch Falcons | Yultron | bbno$ | GG Magree | Manila Grey Evan Giia | Baby Goth | Tails | SoDown | Horsepowar We Are Fury | Cozway | Prado

Hip-hop, R&B, rap, electronic, and pop are just a few of the genres that will draw crowds upward of 45,000 people to Holland Park, Surrey on July 5-6. Khalid, who just dropped his latest single Talk on February 7th, is sure to be a festival favourite this summer.

 The year’s line-up showcases upcoming Canadian artists, Ekali, Felix Cartal, Anders, bbno$, and Manila Grey. The diversity of musical genres, the scenic outdoor space and excitement that comes with attending FVDED in the Park has allowed for it to become one of the most successful festivals in Western Canada.


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2 Day Festival General Admission and VIP Passes starting at $189.99 + (s/c) & $299.99 + (s/c) and can be purchased at


FVDED in the Park is a two-day music festival held in Holland Park, Surrey. Going into its 5th and biggest year, it brings in some of the industry’s top talent. Put on by ThisisBlueprint and Live Nation Canada, FVDED in the Park is now one of Western Canada’s biggest musical festivals.


Based in Vancouver, BC, Blueprint is one of the largest lifestyle, concerts and events companies in Western Canada, dedicated to providing the best in entertainment. Always at the forefront of entertainment culture, Blueprint, founded by Alvaro Prol, Bill Kerasiotis, and Chris Kerasiotis offers an impressive scale of nightclubs, over 700 events annually, along with a boundless array of pubs and liquor stores.


Live Nation Entertainment (NYSE: LYV) is the world’s leading live entertainment company comprised of global market leaders: Ticketmaster, Live Nation Concerts, and Live Nation Media & Sponsorship. For additional information, visit

Surrey604 is an online magazine and media outlet based in Surrey, BC. Through writing, video, photography, and social media, we secure an intimate reach to the public. We promote local events and causes.


[REVIEW] 2020 Acura MDX A-Spec



Costco runs, after school sports, family road trips. These are just some of the common activities that are shared amongst many who are toying with the idea of owning a 3 row crossovers. SUVs with 3rd row seats have continued to be one of the most popular types of vehicles on the road.

Honda/Acura was one of the companies who jumped onboard the trend relatively early on with their Honda Pilot/Acura MDX models. With the current generation originally launched in 2014 and facelifted in 2017, the MDX is now in its third generation.

As before, Acura has essentially taken the practicality and user-friendliness of the Pilot and added a more premium image, bolder styling, nicer cabin materials, and of course, a higher price tag.

For years, the upscale MDX has been a popular choice in Canadian suburbs so much so that it doesn’t draw too much attention on the street these days. It’s not difficult to see why as it is still rather conservatively styled, comes with Japanese brand reliability, and carries over Acura’s “fun to drive” reputation.

When it was redesigned for 2014, Acura introduced a lighter-weight body structure that was a whopping 700 lbs lighter than its predecessor. Impressive given that the new design also added new reinforcements to help the MDX score well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) new small-offset front crash test.

What’s new for 2020

Not much changes for 2020 with the MDX carrying over its appearance, mechanical components, and available features. My test vehicle was the A-Spec model, which joined the regular MDX and MDX Sport Hybrid model in 2019.

Since the MDX is Acura’s bread and butter, leading the company’s sales for years on end, it made sense for Acura to add a sportier trimmed model much like its sedans. The revised “diamond pentagon” schnoz that replaced the odd-looking Acura “shield” grille has aged well and looks cleaner and less bizarre than the beak that it replaced.

As cool as the A-Spec may sound though, the trim level doesn’t go too far beyond unique exteriors colour, wheels, and badging. The MDX wears it well though, as the attractive package helps it to stand out from the rest of the line-up.

I particularly liked the A-spec-only Apex Blue Pearl colour which certainly adds some excitement compared to the drab white/silver/black colours that most vehicles seem to be painted in these days.

The half-inch-wider 20-inch grey aluminium wheels wearing lower profile 265/45R20 tires are rather fetching when matched with larger (real) exhaust tips, body-coloured rocker panels, and a unique A-spec front fascia. Body coloured rocker panels and gloss black and dark chrome exterior trim finishes off the package.

Inside, the seats are wrapped in either perforated red or black leather with black Alcantara inserts. I found the front seats a little bit short on thigh support but were otherwise very comfortable. My vehicle was fitted with the Alcantara trim with contrast stitching, which makes it pop out nicely.

Other interior goodies include A-Spec red gauges, A-Spec-badged door sills, black Alcantara door panels, and even a wonderfully perforated thicker-rimmed steering wheel with paddle shifters. There is also red ambient lighting to match and a red engine start/stop button.

My A-spec tester came particularly well equipped with a blind-spot monitoring system with rear-cross traffic alert, rain-sensing wipers, parking sensors, as well as the whole Acura Watch suite of driver assist features. The MDX’s semi-autonomous driver aid systems, once cutting edge, are getting a bit long in the tooth on though, and cannot keep the vehicle in the lane in sharper corners.

Compared to the previous Acura MDX which I drove several years ago, the infotainment system has been updated to include Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality.

Alas, what you cannot get on the A-Spec is the Entertainment package, with a rear-seat entertainment and comfort package. Nor can you get the Tech Plus package’s second-row heated captain’s chairs, surround-view camera, and active dampers. The A-spec makes do with the standard vibration-reducing amplitude reactive dampers.

Price-wise, the A-Spec is actually the mid-model in the range at an MSRP of $59,690 versus the Tech at $58,090 and the Elite at $66,190.

What is it like to live with?

The MDX’s 290 horsepower, 3.5-litre V6 with 267 lb-ft of torque offers more than sufficient power that most drivers will expect in a crossover SUV. With variable valve timing and lift (aka VTEC), direct injection, and cylinder deactivation, Acura has designed the V6 for efficiency.

The naturally aspirated V6 does need a bit of time to get to power, but its strong and the engine note is pleasant. There is even a bit of an unexpected snarl higher up in the rev range.

Is it as torquey as other SUVs on the market (particularly from the Germans) with their turbocharged engines? No, certainly not. You’ll have to go for the MDX Sport Hybrid and its additional torque and power for that.

Nonetheless, the regular MDX A-Spec can still tow 5,000 pounds when properly equipped, so the engine has been tuned with family hauling duties in mind.

The new 9-speed automatic transmission works well, for the most part, and typically starts off in second gear for smoother take-offs. Flooring the throttle does result in it stepping down to first gear for maximum trusts. There is also a selectable “dynamic” mode, which holds the gear changes till higher revs and is also more aggressive with the engine mapping.

The ride is satisfyingly firm but not harsh and the MDX’s accurate steering rack continues to be a strong point.

What exactly is SH-AWD?

Acura heavily advertises that the MDX comes with SH-AWD; the acronyms short for “Super Handling All-Wheel-Drive. Since the majority of SH-AWD Acuras are based on front-engine, front-wheel-drive platforms, up to 90 per cent of the power is initially directed to the front wheels.

Under hard acceleration, or upon slippage, sensors detect rearward weight transfer and can alter clutch engagement to direct up to 45 per cent of power to the rear wheels for better acceleration.

The way that SH-AWD gets its so-called “Super Handling” characteristics is by the rear differential being able to vector torque (aka the power balance) between the rear wheels.

Depending on the cornering forces, up to 70 per cent of the engine torque can be sent to the rear axle, of which 100 per cent can be directed to the rear outside wheel, helping to push the vehicle forward. This inward yaw moment gives the feeling of rotation through a corner, reducing the need for steering input and allowing power to be applied sooner.

The system noticeably works, and you can really feel it in more aggressive corners where it helps to minimize understeer or oversteer. It was certainly more evident on snowy surfaces, such the week where I had the MDX, and performed flawlessly in poor road conditions.

Just don’t expect the MDX’s system to act as dynamically aggressive as the Acura NSX sports car’s system, as it is still set-up for safe understeer if you go into a corner too hot. Entertainingly, a small display in between the speedometer and tachometer displays a live view of where the torque is going side-to-side.

Tell me more about the interior

It’s easy to see why the MDX has been a popular choice. The cabin is well-rounded and does most things well, such as keeping noise at bay. Better sealing and insulation along with thicker acoustical glass quiet the cabin nicely.

Although it has been around for a couple years now, Acura’s clever one-touch button function to fold the second row seats forward is still rather unmatched for ease-of-use and speed. There are actually two buttons, one on the back of the seat and another on the side, cleverly both are lit at night.

Press either one and the second row can be slid all the way forward on tracks that permit the fore-and-aft adjustment. The system is so easy to use that kids can climb aboard unassisted. When fully folded, the middle and rear seats form a flat cargo floor for maximum utility. There is some cargo area behind the third row, but it’s best saved for a few small backpacks or grocery bags.

The MDX’s third row is perfectly ok for children and smaller adults, even on longer trips. However, due to the limited legroom, average sized adults will likely start grousing after the 45 minute mark. A flat floor, both in the second and third row footwells, maximises as much foot room as possible. Kudos to the engineers for packaging things very efficiently.

Perhaps the areas in which the Acura shows its age the most is in certain interior plastic quality (such as the turn signal stalk and window switches), as well as the dual-screen infotainment system and gauge cluster (no virtual cockpit here).

Yes, I do concede that it is a bit unfair to compare the MDX’s interior with those of posh European competitors since the Acura does cost quite a bit less. Nonetheless, even the MDX’s domestic rivals have caught up.

The infotainment system splits duties by having a lower touchscreen for certain inputs, and a upper display unit that is primarily controlled by the physical knob on the dash. HVAC operation from the dash is intuitive enough, thanks to the physical buttons, but the multifunction knob and the complex menu structure is cumbersome to live with.

While you do get used to it in time, changing radio stations or turning on the heated seats can be a multi-step process.

It’s also a bit weird, and slow, to control Apple CarPlay with the knob as CarPlay seems to really be designed for touchscreens. Acura’s new trackpad infotainment system, on their latest RDX crossover, is significantly easier to use.

Final thoughts

Like the Acura brand, the MDX continues to occupy a sort of middle ground in the automotive world. While the brand aspires to be true luxury, it sometimes doesn’t fit the bill but yet is certainly far above mainstream brands.

Despite its jack-off-all-trades-master-of-none positioning, the MDX remains competent, practical, and surprisingly fun to drive for a seven-passenger crossover. The A-spec trim just adds a bit of pop to a recipe which Acura hasn’t messed too much with due to its success.

If you’re looking for a mix of technology, handling, value, reliability and more luxury than the typical mainstream brands, the MDX continues to fit the bill as a fine choice for a family crossover.

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[REVIEW] 2020 BMW M340i



The British statesman Joseph Chamberlain is known for his famous quote, “we are living in most interesting times”.

The father of future Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain and future diplomat Austen Chamberlain, Joseph’s speech in 1898 assigned a complex meaning to “live in interesting times” with connotations of opportunity, excitement, anxiety, and danger.

And indeed we are living in most interesting times when it comes to the future of sports sedans.

Once Munich’s bread and butter car, the BMW 3 Series invented this category, blending versatility, balance, power, rear-wheel-drive, and most of all fun.

But times they are a changing and the question that will be is whether anyone still cares about such factors. Long a stalwart support of the manual transmission, BMW was one of a diminishing number of car manufacturers that held onto their manual gearboxes.

As consumer preferences evolved though, one by one, BMW started dropping it from their models.

With the arrival of the seven-generation 3 Series, the manual is gone in North America. It’s difficult to blame BMW though. Statistics don’t lie and not only do a lot of great cars not have manual gearboxes anymore, but people simply aren’t buying them anymore.

It’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario as dealers aren’t willing to take the chance to stock manual transmission cars as they take longer to turn.

Therefore, willing customers find themselves having to likely wait months for special ordered manual transmission vehicles, which likely will cost more as dealers are less likely to offer discounts on special ordered rarer vehicles. And so most customers conceded and opt for automatic gearboxes and thus the vicious cycle continues.

Why the “M” in front of “340”?

A couple of years ago, BMW introduced their M Performance line-up of vehicles. While not the full tilt hardcore BMW Motorsport models, M Performance vehicles were still factory designed and spec’ed, offering greater performance than standard BMWs.

Fast forward to present day and the M Performance line-up has proven to be so successful that it has grown to include not only the M550i, but also the X2 M35i, the Z4 M40i, the X5 M50i, etc., and of course the M340i.

The M340i xDrive actually is the only remaining model in the current 3 Series line-up with six-cylinder gas power.

With BMW’s M division still applying the finishing touches to the next-generation M3, this is currently the hottest member of the new G20-generation 3 Series.

This M-tweaked hot halfway house joins the likes of the Mercedes-AMG C43 and the Audi S4, all of which serve as understudies to more established more powerful flagships. Like BMW, those companies also have had their top engineers applying parts and development from their esteemed performance divisions, making this an interesting time to be a customer.

Beyond the name badge

While the 330i puts out a respectable 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque from its 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine, the M340i offers up a significant bump in power to 383 horsepower thanks to its new turbocharger and particulate filter among other detailed changes.

The B58 3.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine offers up a healthy dose of torque too, 369 lbs-ft to be precise, between 1,600 to 4,500 rpms.

With peak torque tuned to be available throughout such a large portion of the rev range, the M340i always feels eager and ready to go. Combined with BMW’s tried-and-true ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox, the vehicle never feels breathless, no matter what the situation.

Paired with xDrive permanent all-wheel-drive, the M340i is the perfect sports sedan for all-round use in Canada, be it sunny, wet, or snowy conditions.

According to BMW, the M340i just edges out the Audi S4, Genesis G70 3.3T, and Mercedes-AMG C43 in 0-100 km/hr runs by about 1/10th of a second.

The M Performance badge doesn’t just buy you an uprated engine combo. Improving upon the standard 3 Series’ platform, the M340i gets a standard torque-vectoring rear differential, firmer springs, thicker anti-roll bars, a lower ride height, more wheel camber, and adaptive dampers.

The latter has four levels of dampening stiffness via Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport, and Sport Plus modes to provide what BMW describes as “sporty and authoritative” handling.

What about the tech toys?

The M340i brings along with it seven generations of legacy, and with it, some high expectations. In fact, there seems to be a setting to adjust pretty much every aspect of the car’s behaviour.

Open the driver’s side door and you’re met by a classy-looking cabin with an upmarket air. There are digital gauges, expensive-looking chrome or satin trim bits, and a 10.3 inch infotainment touchscreen.

While it all feels sporty, the cabin doesn’t feel as special as it would’ve in the past. This is in part because Audi’s and Mercedes’ interiors have caught up in recent years.

Ironically, BMW’s brand new virtual cockpit is less configurable than Audi’s, but overall it still displays an impressive range of information, including a full range of driver assistance systems

My test vehicle was also equipped with BMW’s latest Assisted Driving Assistant system, which provides semi-autonomous driving.

This impressive system allows for hands-free and pedal-free driving at lower traffic speeds (below 60 km/hr) thanks to a variety of radar, camera, and ultrasonic sensors.

There is even an infrared and optical facial recognition camera that is pointed towards the driver to ensure that the appropriate attention is being paid to the road in front.

With the combination of all the aforementioned systems, if the conditions are right, the M340i can even automatically change lanes by the activation of the turn signals when the Assisted Driving Assistant is active.

The G20 3 Series’ centre console and gear lever area now houses the familiar iDrive controller, a wireless phone charging pad, the Driver Experience modes buttons, as well as the engine start/stop button.

The latest iDrive 7.0 operating system is easy to operate and premieres BMW’s new personal assistant activated by saying ‘Hey BMW’.

Creatures of tactile habit will rejoice that BMW has still seen fit to include an appropriate number of hard buttons for frequently used functions for the climate controls and infotainment system.

iDrive is now more intuitive (and more feature heavy) than ever, and adjusting the various controls via the iDrive controller or touchscreen soon becomes second nature once you take the time to understand its various menus and submenus.

As before, BMW continues to be the only auto manufacturer that supports wireless Apple Carplay, allowing the system to just work (via WiFi) once you step into the vehicle. Place your phone on the wireless charging mat to keep it juiced up with no cables to fiddle around with.

The instrument screen can be modified to show navigation, active safety programs, G-forces, or be minimised altogether. The head-up display, jacked from the 7 Series, is industry-leading for clarity and quality.

Still the Ultimate Driving Machine?

The M340i is one rapid driving machine with the engine revving eagerly up to 6,800 rpms. To be precise, it’s a full 0.5 seconds faster than the old 340i despite its larger dimensions.

To put this in perspective, the M340i is just 0.3 seconds slower than the outgoing fifth-generation M3, whose twin-turbo 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder punches out a greater 425 hp and 406 ft-lbs of torque.

While there is no more manual transmission gearbox, BMW has equipped the M340i’s eight-speed auto with its own unique ratios and an integrated launch control function.

The exhaust note is nicely tuned, goiing from whisper quiet to throaty, depending on which driver experience mode is selected.

While the M340i never feels as precise as that of a true M-badged car, stability and refinement are clearly amongst the car’s strong suit. Challenging roads are where the car shines, and the directness of its handling reins supreme. Until the M3 arrives later this year, this is the most agile member of the 3 Series family.

The M performance brakes are also well worth the upgrade, firm, confidence inspiring but with a strong initial bite and progressive pedal feel.

While some auto critics have criticized the 3 Series for trying to be all things to all people, to me, it simply feels like it has grown up more to suit the tastes of its audience. Those who want something even more engaging can wait for the M3.

Parting thoughts

Times they are a changing. Perhaps what is the most astounding is that no longer does one need to buy the most expensive BMW in the line-up to get access to 90 per cent of the tech gadgets. You can pretty much have it all on the M340i.

While there might not be heated armrests or built-in fragrance pods, you can still enjoy semi-autonomous driving, BMW’s novel “caring car” relaxation program within the iDrive system, Laser headlights, adaptive dampers, self-parking, and even the ability to use the BMW Connected Drive app to check out what is going around your vehicle remotely via your smartphone. It’s all there…on a 3 Series!

While the M340i may no longer be the only player in the sports sedan segment and the BMW design language has arguably evolved to be a bit derivative, the M340i still feels polished, confident, and the one of the best combinations of status, performance, tech, luxury and value.

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7-Eleven Canada Celebrates 50 Years and 7-Eleven Day with Free Slurpee Drinks Across Canada



7-Eleven Canada is celebrating 7-Eleven Day and 50 years of serving Canada – and serving Slurpee in Canada – by giving away 885,000 free Slurpee drinks to fans across the country.

On Thursday, July 11th from 11am until midnight, all 590 7-Eleven Canada locations from BC to Ontario will each be giving away 1500 Slurpee drinks in exclusive 12 oz. commemorative cups. Stores across the country will be partying like it’s 1969, as passionate Slurpee fans flock to the stores to celebrate 50 years in Canada.

The first Slurpee was poured in Calgary, Alberta in 1969, beginning a nationwide fandom for the iconic beverage. 7-Eleven Day celebrates Slurpee fans across the country that continue to make the beverage a Canadian favorite. For the 20th consecutive year, Manitoba has been named the Slurpee Capital of the World, consuming the most Slurpee per capita than anywhere else in the world.

“We are honoured to be celebrating 50 years in Canada. The impact our stores have had on Canadian culture has been incredible and the iconic Slurpee has become part of the Canadian identity. We are grateful for the love and support of Canadian Slurpee fans and their loyalty that has made Manitoba the Slurpee Capital of the World. This is our opportunity to thank Canadians for 50 incredible years of memories, and to celebrate 50 more to come!” – Doug Rosencrans, VP and GM of 7-Eleven Canada.

This year’s exclusive Slurpee Cups are a composition of images of fans. Paying homage to the loyal Canadian fanbase, fan submissions are displayed on each cup along with an exclusive Snap lens that can be unlocked to get fans dancing through the decades! The gifts don’t stop with a free Slurpee drink, either. Customers can also scan their 7-Eleven Day cup to get 1000 free 7Rewards points. 7Rewards members can spend 1000 points to ‘pay’ for a medium Slurpee on their next visit.

To make 7-Eleven products even more accessible for Canadians, 7-Eleven Canada has announced their partnership with Uber Eats. This means Canadians can now get the new and innovative feature summer Slurpee flavors in Sour Patch Kids Orange and Fanta Lite Mango Passionfruit delivered right to their door!

A Canadian classic for 50 years, Slurpee celebrations have fans challenging each other to #DancetheSlurp. World renowned dancer Carlo Atienza developed choreography to a remix of the original “Dance the Slurp” record from the late 60s.

The viral dance has fans showing off their moves to help reach the goal of 25,000 uploads, at which time, 7-Eleven Canada will donate $50,000 to Food Banks Canada! $50,000 for serving Canada for 50 years.  For more information about 7-Eleven Day, visit

7-Eleven, Inc.

7-Eleven, Inc. is the premier name and largest chain in the convenience retailing industry. Based in Dallas, Texas, 7-Eleven operates, franchises and/or licenses more than 66,000 7-Eleven stores in 17 countries, including 11,600 in North America. Find out more about 7-Eleven Canada at

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Thousands attend Surrey Canada Day to celebrate national pride



Surrey, BC – Thousands of people gathered at Surrey’s free Canada Day celebration, presented by Coast Capital Savings, to celebrate the nation on July 1 at Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre in Cloverdale. Attendees enjoyed Canada’s birthday with Canadian rock artists Our Lady Peace and Bif Naked on the Main Stage.

“Surrey Canada Day has been a tradition in bringing the community together to celebrate our freedom, national pride and diversity,” says Mayor Doug McCallum. “We are proud to offer the public a memorable free event to honour our nation’s birthday where they can experience homegrown musical talent on the main stage, rides and a variety of activities for all ages.”

The annual event featured live performances on four stages, amusement rides, an arcade party truck, Strawberry Tea for seniors, an Indigenous Village, more than 50 vendors and community booths, a sensory friendly space, food trucks and the much-anticipated fireworks finale. New to the event was the popular Rodeo Zone, where attendees could experience live country performances on the Rodeo Stage, shop at the Summer Market and stay fueled by a variety of barbecue food trucks.

“This year’s City of Surrey Canada Day event was a phenomenal community celebration,” said Maureen Young, Director, Community Leadership, Coast Capital Savings. “Coast Capital Savings’ community leadership mandate is to support youth. Through sponsorships of events such as Surrey Canada Day, we help create a safe and engaging place for young people to celebrate diversity and continue to build connections in a strong community.”

Additional Main Stage performers included The Hip Show, Buckman Coe, Star Captains and Her Brothers. Closing the Tim Hortons Maple Leaf stage was Play Surrey contest winner Nylez K. For more details on Surrey’s special events, visit

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Community Board

Funding for Homes for the Homeless – No longer just a promise – Now a solution.



Surrey has 650 homeless people and 470,000 residents.

As Whalley continues to develop, the local clash between the haves and the have-nots is becoming more evident. Businesses are growing impatient with the RCMP’s three year plan. They can’t afford to wait three years. They are tired of promises. Residents and business owners want solutions and answers now.

The business community in Whalley has been pressuring the city to crack down on the illegal activity stating that the lack of solutions is causing one business after another to close down. The more businesses that close down, the more the area becomes run down and derelict. While the brand new buildings go up at City Centre, Whalley looks more and more like the neglected child in the middle of Surrey’s prosperity.

City of Surrey Display Board

City of Surrey Display Board

Today, the Mayor of Surrey, Linda Hepner announced a partnership with BC Housing, Fraser Health and the Lookout Housing and Health Society with assistance from the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Task Force and the Surrey Rapid Response Housing Plan to end homelessness in Surrey.

The solution to homelessness is simple – give them homes. Give them the ability to become part of the community again. Support them as they rebuild their lives. It sounds utopian but it has worked in other cities and it seems that now it is Surrey’s turn.

Today’s announcement of three temporary modular-housing projects to be up and running by spring offering 160 supportive housing units which will include individual rooms with private bathrooms, meal service, counseling and medical office will do just that.

The announcement was made at City hall by the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing the MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville, Selina Robinson.

“Surrey has the 2nd largest homeless population in the region. We have seen a 50 % increase from 2014. No one should be forced to live on the street without access to safe and supportive housing.

I am pleased to join the City of Surrey, Fraser Health and Lookout Housing and Health Society to announce our strategy to quickly and effectively help those that need it most here in Surrey.”

Last year the NDP announced a $291 million dollar commitment to 2000 building modular housing unit for the homeless. They also promised 170 million over three years for staffing and support services for people at risk. Today Surrey was the benefactor of some of those promised funds.

“We are announcing today a 13 million commitment to bring in approx.. 160 temporary modular homes at three sites in this city.” – Minister Selina Robinson

Mayor Hepner was pleased to welcome this announcement and to acknowledge the hard work done by councilors Vera Le Franc and Mike Starchuk as well as the other valuable partners in this initiative.   This announcement really showed Surrey at its very best. When everybody comes together and works together to solve a problem, each bringing their own vision and skills to the table we really get things done.

City of Surrey Display Board

Mayor Linda Hepner said:

“The need for accessible and secure housing has never been greater.

This is a two-phase plan. The Surrey Rapid Response housing plan allows for a graduated continuum of housing that will place individuals in the appropriate housing depending on the level of assistance that they require.

In phase one 160 temporary emergency modular homes will provide safe and secure housing to individual who require a high level of assistance such as those who have been sleeping in tents or other make shift shelters.

These transitional accommodations will be operating by highly experienced local non-profit housing providers.

Lookout will provide 25 hour operational staff at the three main locations ensuring residential support and maintenance.”

Lookout Housing and Health Society has been working to end homelessness since 1971. Lookout has been providing emergency shelter and services to Surrey north for over 25 years. They have brought this experience and commitment to this partnership and will be providing 24/7 staffing and offering life and employment skills programming.

Mayor Linda Hepner said

“When the emergency accommodations come on stream, it will be a very marked difference form what we have seen on 135a Street. As each unit will provide individuals with their own private bathrooms and storage for their personal possessions. Amenity space will be available within the complex as will the appropriate health services and meals.

Our goal for 135a Street is two fold. First to provide the safe housing to our most vulnerable, to give those individuals dignified and secure place to live in and 2nd to bring some semblance of normalcy back to the people who live and work in this area and once built, given the type of accommodation and number of spaces that are bring provided. I cannot think of a reason for anyone to pitch a tent on 135a Street.

In phase two, the 250 modular housing units that are slated to be completed by the end of they ear will allow the individuals currently in our existing shelters to move to more permanent independent living and that second phase is precisely the measure needed to ensure that those individuals that have made good headway in our supportive environments not fall through the cracks again.

The Green Timbers shelter will provide another 40-shelter bed and 40 transitional beds.

This is a significant step forward in dealing with homelessness here in Surrey. This comprehensive approach will go a long way to address the housing options for our most vulnerable residents.

Housing First and without Strings attached

The approach that has had the most success overall divides the homeless into two categories. There is the group of people who will be homeless only for a few weeks or a couple of months and then there are the chronically homeless meaning they have been on the streets for more than a year and have other problems such as mental health or substance abuse or other debilitating damage.

The majority of homeless fall into the first category. They are predominately men but there are women and whole families who spent short periods of time sleeping in their cars or at shelters but then eventually find a place to live.

The remaining percentage are the ones that fill the emergency rooms, jails, and shelters night after night. The cost of this type of care is between $30,000 to $50,000 US per year. (Interagency Council on Homelessness).

The past model used to handle these chronically homeless was to send them to drug rehabilitation programs of mental health counseling or both and if they stopped doing drugs or stopping displaying crazy behavior, then they would be provided with subsidized housing. They would be required to remain clean, sober and relatively sane in order to remain in subsidized housing.

While this linear residential treatment models seems logical, it doesn’t work. Chronically homeless people were often unable to complete their programs or stay clean on their first or second attempt and they would be back out on the street.

In 1992, Sam Tsemberis, a New York University psychologist tested a new model.

His simple idea was to give the chronically homeless a place to live, on a permanent basis, without making them pass any tests or attend any programs or fill out any forms.

“Why not just give them a place to live and offer them free counseling and therapy, health care, and let them decide if they want to participate? Why not treat chronically homeless people as human beings and members of our community who have a basic right to housing and health care?”

While it sounds too much like socialism, something expensive and something bound to fail, Tsemberis and his group, Pathways to Housing, provided 242 apartments to chronically homeless individuals without any prerequisites or requirements. They were encouraged to participate and given access to detox or rehab but it was not a requirement of their housing.

Five years later, 88% of those test case clients were still living in their apartments as a cost of care that was slightly less then it would have cost to maintain them on the street.

A New York City study of homeless with mental illness found that a per person cost of emergency room, shelter and other expenses of care were $50,000 per year.  Housing these same people saved $16,282 a year.

As the idea of Housing First began to spread to other cities feeling the costs of caring for people on the street, the results began to prove themselves nationwide.In Denver, Colorado, emergency costs went down 73% under the Housing First initiative.

“Going from homelessness into a home changes a person’s psychological identity from outcast to member of the community,” Tsemberis says.

The old model “was well intentioned but misinformed”. It is a long stairway that required sobriety and required stability in order to get into housing. So many people could never achieve that while on the street. You actually need housing to achieve sobriety and stability, not the other way around. But that was the system that was there.

Some people called the housing readiness program, an industry, because all these programs were in business to improve people to get them ready for housing.

These programs seem to operate on the idea that they need to first prove that they deserve this. They have to have improved their character or their behavior. Those who don’t understand the poverty cycle often believe that poor people are poor because they made bad choices.

” By contrast, Tsemberis says, Housing First provides a new sense of belonging that is reinforced in every interaction with new neighbors and other community members. We operate with the belief that housing is a basic right. Everyone on the streets deserves a home. He or she should not have to earn it, or prove they are ready or worthy.”

Poverty and homelessness can become an industry and the cost of this type of bureauacracy is high. One mother in New York City got a hold of a receipt of the monthly cost of her care in temporary shelters. For herself and her two young children, the state was paying $3,450. She was exasperated. “Give me $900 a month and I can find a place to live and care for my children.”

Other costs associated with homelessness go uncalculated such as the cost to local businesses in depressed areas or the cost of loss of tourism or reduced real estate value.

Medicine Hat adopted this strategy and saw their costs of care reduced.

According to the CBC report: Back in 2009, Mayor Ted Clugston was actively opposing the policy, which pledges to give any person who spends ten days on the street a home. Today, he has come to realize that not only does the policy work for the people, but it works for the government, too.

“This is the cheapest and the most humane way to treat people,” he told CBC.

Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, helped conduct a study that supported Clugston’s claim. The study cost $110 million and looked at 2,000 people over five different cities, but its results were invaluable.

What they found was that when homeless people were told to “get clean” or find other ways to get their lives together before applying for housing, they inevitably fell back into cycles of drug use and poverty. That landed them back in emergency rooms, hospitals, detention centers and shelters — all things that cost tax money. Speaking to CBC, Glugston estimated that it costs $20,000 to house a homeless person for the year and close to $100,000 to keep them on the street.

Housing First puts everything on its head. It used to be, ‘You want a home, get off the drugs or deal with your mental health issues,'” Clugston told CBC. “If you’re addicted to drugs, it’s going to be pretty hard to get off them, if you’re sleeping under a park bench.”

And it worked. City officials have said it typically doesn’t even take 10 days to find people housing. Emergency room visits and interactions with police are dropping in Medicine Hat, while court appearances have actually gone up. The reason?

“They end up dealing with their past, atoning for their sins,” Clugston said.

The answer to solving the homelessness issue is three-fold

  • Provide temporary shelter
  • Provide permanent housing
  • Provide assistance programs

City of Surrey Display Board

City of Surrey Display Board

Today’s announcement has done that and more. Dc Victoria Lee from Fraser Health talked about their commitment to the partnership and providing the proper support and assistance to allow people to gain control of their lives once again.

“Intensive case management support to those who are suffering from mental health and substance abuse disorders in the modular housing units.

The daily struggles that faced by the individuals that are difficult and not easily understood. There are core and underlying pain and trauma with also very complex health and social needs.   We see that these individuals are invisible in our society and shunned.

The basis needs for the individual starts with having a place to call home. This is a fundamental requirement for rehabilitation.”

Fraser Health provides additional support service from a Housing First approach. It is important to note that we put the individual needs at the centre. The person is looked from a whole individual perspective instead of just focusing on substance abuse or mental disorder.”

With successful engagement from intensive case management teams, they are able to reduce the harms from the substance abuse and provide more stability.

A communities core values are reflected in the way we treat our most vulnerable populations and I also believe that today’s announcement is a great reflection of Surrey as a community that is caring, compassionate and inclusive.”

Dc Victoria Lee – Fraser Health

City of Surrey Display Board

By stabilizing people through shelter, moving them into permanent housing, and implementing assistance programs to keep them in their housing, we can not only eliminate homelessness in our city.

Wes Everaars from the Lookout Society said

“This new minimal barrier accommodation is so badly needed. This will help individuals stabilize and get connected to the services that they need. The number of shelter beds that lookout operates has grown in the last two years from 40 beds to 160 beds. A shelter is not a home.

With the announcement today of over 160 units, we will now have a place that they can call home.”

City of Surrey Display Board

At Risk Populations:

Among the *400 people counted in 2011; the majority were single men (63%). Service providers identified several other groups, often not well captured by the Count, to be particularly vulnerable to repeat homelessness. These include:

Women, including single women, women with children and sex-trade workers (37% of Surrey’s 2011 homeless population)

Youth-at-risk, particularly Aboriginal and immigrant youth and

Aboriginal singles and families (24%)

*This year’s count has the homeless in Surrey at 608 people.

City of Surrey Display Board

Surrey and its residences are impacted by the need in this city. It is the front and centre at the entrance to our city. It is the first thing most people see after crossing the bridge.

Surrey is known for its generosity of spirit and its support of marginalized people If they can do it in Medicine Hat – we can do it here. Today, the people, organization and leadership in Surrey proved just that.

As Mayor Linda Hepner so eloquently put it.

“Given the type of accommodation and number of spaces that are being provided. I cannot think of a reason for anyone to pitch a tent on 135a street.”

Mayor Linda Hepner with Councillor Vera LeFranc, Wes Everaars from Lookout Society, Dc. Victoria Lee from Fraser Health, Garry Begg MLA for Surrey Guildford, Minister Selina Robinson, Minister of Municipalities and Housing, Councillor Mike Starchuk, Rachna Singh MLA for Surrey Green Timbers and Bruce Ralston, MLA Surrey Whalley and the Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology.

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