Many years ago in November of 1995 I did a presentation before Surrey City Council about my vision for the future of Surrey as the “Royal Canadian Principality of Surrey.”
This document made many recommendations including for political leaders to call a referendum on a ward system on the next civic ballot. I proposed the Mayor elected at-large and seven City Councillor’s elected to represent Whalley, Guildford, Newton, Cloverdale, Fleetwood, South Surrey, and Surrey City Centre.
This was rejected at the time but council did prepare a staff report and send me a copy on the issue. Interestingly, in 2014, during the last civic election, all three major Mayoral candidates, Barinder Rasode, Linda Hepner, and Doug McCallum, agreed to move the issue of a ward system forward. So, in other words, maybe I was ahead of my time but time will tell.
So perhaps, I may be ahead of my time about Surrey becoming a principality too? You never know! A principality for Surrey would mean a unique political agreement with Victoria and Ottawa that would address Surrey’s needs as the soon to be largest city in BC and one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
Has this been done before? Yes! UBC is essentially a principality although I don’t agree with its governance model. The federal and provincial governments also came to the table to hammer out unique political agreements with the various First Nations communities in this country. Why cannot they come to the table to address Surrey’s needs?
So what would the Royal Canadian Principality of Surrey look like? Surrey would have enhanced powers in the form of a new civic charter from Victoria that would enable the city to act on its numerous problems, including social issues, in an integrated way, as well as enhance the potential and capacity of its strategic strengths and assets. This includes marketing itself as a gateway to the USA and expanding its port on the Fraser River.
Perhaps a new comprehensive general hospital in Newton or Cloverdale and a regional airport wouldn’t hurt either. The city would be “royal” because it would have a “Citizen Chancellor” appointed by the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. The Citizen Chancellor would become the Ombudsperson of Surrey Council.
The goal of this new office would be to bring some non-partisan fairness in decision making in local government. The office would serve as a mediator between the citizens and city government when disputes arise and ideally avoid the city and the citizen’s costly legal fees.
The principality would have a network of pedestrian park routes connecting all the town centres, parks, green spaces, and recreation and leisure centres in the city. These pedestrian park routes would have beautiful walking trails, bicycle paths, water fountains and benches, and showcase nature and civic art along their paths.
The pedestrian park routes would all meet in the heart of the city centre where the Office of the Citizen Chancellor and other civic facilities such as the promised new performing arts centre would be located.
Surrey as a principality would have new powers and new authority and new money as it would have greater taxing authority and receive greater transfers to deliver programs from the provincial and federal government.
So what are some things I would like to see the new principality accomplish? How about providing the bottom 25% of income earners in the city with an automatic monthly top up to help alleviate poverty and stimulate the local economy?
How about providing a delicious and nutritious universal hot lunch program for all children in the city to ensure there is no stigma for being hungry whether you come from a rich or poor family? How about funding a 2000 member volunteer community police force to keep our communities and neighborhoods safe?
How about building a beautiful outdoor salt water lap pool? If Vancouver can have Kits Pool? Why not Surrey? How about setting up a senior’s visitation and mentorship program to make sure vulnerable seniors are alright and to tap into the lifelong wisdom and capacity of our elders to support the success of our youth?
Many people do not even realize it but Surrey is underfunded and underserviced in almost every area by both Victoria and Ottawa. Vancouver has more developed infrastructure and receives more money for social support services per capita such as on health care and police spending and transportation.
Surrey even has to settle for LRT while Vancouver gets the “Cadillac” Skytrain form of rapid transit, some of which was even constructed at huge expense underground. Furthermore, Surrey has only one major hospital. How many does Vancouver have? I can think of at least five with UBC Hospital, St. Paul’s Hospital, Vancouver General Hospital, and Women and Children’s Hospital which are technically two hospitals, and Mount Saint Joseph Hospital.
So what’s the bottom line?
Surrey will soon be the largest city in the province and is going through tremendous growing pains. Over 1000 new people move to the city every month. Time to invest in the city is now. Surrey needs new infrastructure and new services and supports to keep up with the growth.
Surrey needs to start being treated by Victoria and Ottawa as the big city and urban centre in the province! Give Surrey the money, power, and resources to effectively tackle and solve its own problems. Surrey can no longer wait and wait and wait for the Premier and/or the Prime Minister to effectively address the city’s issues.
Alex Sangha is an award winning author and social worker based in Surrey, B.C. His social discussion book, Catalyst, was a Finalist in the Current Events and Social Change category of the Next Generation Indie Book Awards of 2014. For more information on Alex check out his author blog at alexsangha.com
Newton Days is bringing back the Summer Fun!
Let’s kick-off summer in Newton! The Newton BIA is bringing back Newton days with events all summer. Complete with a farms’ market, kid fun zone, face painting, food trucks, henna and Science World demonstrations, Newton Days has something for everyone.
Throughout July and August, Newton Days will be taking over the Newton Grove on Saturdays from 12-4pm. Open to the community, everything will be free! Each Saturday will feature something different, so be sure to keep an eye on our Facebook events for more details.
Newton Days is a push to create a more vibrant community within the Newton Town Centre. Get out, enjoy the weather, enjoy the activities, and get to know your neighborhood! Positive events like these in the community are key to the success of Newton and will be more successful with your support!
Science World demonstrations
Friends of the Grove
Surrey Fire Prevention
Black Belt Academy
North Surrey Minor Football
Newton Recreation Centre
Surrey Parks and Rec
City of Surrey
3rd Annual Groundhog Day in Newton!
Groundhog Day in Newton returns for the third year of fun. Prepare for a chilling day filled with activities, treats, and live entertainment! Groundhog Day will be taking place in the Newton Grove, next to the Bus loop. Start the day with a free pancake breakfast courtesy by the Surrey RCMP; visit the crafts and games section for some fun activities provided by the Newton Community Centre. And right beside there is the Friends of the Grove tent with free hot chocolate and cupcakes, and while there why not learn a little more about these active community change-makers!
What’s an event without music right? Join Lou Jack and Ginalina as we dance away the cold; and end the day with a special Groundhog themed performance by the Surrey Dance Company and Lou Jack’s prediction! Will we have 6 more weeks of winter, or an early spring?
Groundhog Day is back for another day not to be missed. The event takes place on Saturday, January 28th from 10am-12pm. Come in your pajamas and bring the whole family out for a morning filled with free activities, treats, pancakes, and entertainment.
See you there! And take a look back at Groundhog Day 2016!
Ginalina is a Juno nominated and bilingual folk singer-songwriter for children and families. She is passionate about finding beauty in the ordinary moments and connecting people, one fun song at a time. Her music and videos can be found on CBC Kids’ Radio stream and Knowledge Network Television.
Her music is energetic and fun, sweet and sentimental, with an array of bluegrass, country, zydeco, modern folk, and west coast styles. Ginalina’s live shows are playful and musically entertaining and engaging, and her catchy songs and actions get children and adults of all ages laughing, roaring, singing, jumping, and clapping! For more info, visit www.ginalina.com.
About Surrey Dance Company
The Surrey Dance Company was originally assembled as a partnership between the City of Surrey and the Arts Council of Surrey as the “Surrey Celebration Dance Team”.
Beginning its artistic journey in celebration of the 2010 WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES at Holland Park, The SCDT has since performed for hundreds of audiences across BC.
Each unique dancer performs at a professional level in their chosen dance aesthetic. As artists in residence at the Thrive Dance Studio and Dance Xpressions, the organization is able to foster diversity in dance as a performing art-Bringing together the community and industry professionals in Surrey and across the lower mainland. For more info, visit http://www.surreydancecompany.com.
Merchant Shoutout: Community Thrift Store
For Donna Chubb, the Manager of Community Thrift Store, it has always been in her nature to give back. She credits her giving nature to her parents who were passionate about community. Through a combination of passion for volunteering and experience in retail management, Donna and the staff are responsible for the success and growth of the store. Store profits support the Surrey Hospice Society and the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society.
Newton plays a large role in both the business and Donna’s life. Newton is Community Thrift Store’s only location and is where they have thrived for over 11 years. Donna believes there is a need in Newton for this type of store specializing in quality and affordable thrift goods. Also, Donna connects to Newton at a personal level as her grandparents lived in Newton and her mother grew up here. Newton continues to be a part of her life.
The Community Thrift Store prides themselves on their “consignment quality” products which is evident in the Boutique Section. They look for items that are good quality and items in nearly every category can be found in the store. As a result, this allows them to stay competitive with other thrift stores in the area while simultaneously offering affordable pricing.
Donna attributes much of the business’s growth to her employees and volunteers who consistently provide excellent customer service. The store’s small size allows them to build relationships with customers, knowing many on a first-name basis. Donna’s staff and volunteers are “caring, honest and fun people who enjoy giving back.” These are only some of the qualities that she believes a volunteer requires and this is why the Community Thrift Store has a diverse group of volunteers from the ages of 16-86. As a result, they have jobs for everyone regardless of their physical or mental abilities, as Donna states, “Volunteers are the greatest asset”.
Contributing to the local community is a huge part of the Community Thrift Store. In addition to supporting the Surrey Hospice Society and the Surrey Fire Fighters Charitable Society, they also help community members. They offer free items for the homeless providing them with a safe place free of judgement. And community agencies can find practicum placements for clients and students can earn volunteer hours at the store.
Donna and the store have high hopes for Newton. They hope to see it become a vibrant location where people can feel comfortable shopping. Newton is a great location for the store and the community here supports them. Although they may open another location in the future, Donna maintains that this store will always be here in Newton.
The Community Thrift Store is holding their most anticipated event of the year, ‘Night on the Town’ on November 25th from 6-9 pm. The event is extremely popular with customers and their ninth one this year. Christmas decorations fill the store and the best holiday wear is on display for the event. Because Night on the Town has large ques, be sure to line up early! Donna, staff, and volunteers can’t wait to see you come by and have a look at this little gem of a store. You will be amazed at what they have.
Merchant Shout-Out is a monthly Newton BIA program highlighting one business per month within the Newton Town Centre. Tune in every month to hear a new business story! And visit our website for past stories.
Newton Community Walk – November 4
Every movement starts with a passionate few that drive change in their neighborhood. It is Newton’s time to take back its streets and galvanize the community by taking ownership of the future to ensure long term vibrancy and optimism for the area. The Newton BIA has adopted streets through the Surrey Adopt-A-Street program within the BIA boundary in part to take back the streets. Taking ownership of our streets within the town centre is a step towards the revitalization and success of Newton. This monthly walk is a positive event bringing the community together from residents, businesses, stakeholders, and government. Collaboration is vital to the success of any community.
Join us Friday, November 4 at McDonald’s located on 72 Ave near King George at 9 am and get involved in your community! We will be walking the streets, picking up garbage, and conversing about all things Newton. Join us for some community building and end off with treats provided by McDonald’s. Be the change in your community!
RSVP here: firstname.lastname@example.org
13565 72 Ave, Surrey, BC V3W 2N9
Friday, November 4
9 AM – 11 AM
Attire is based on weather. Closed toe shoes are recommended.
Spooktacular Newton Returns!
Spooktacular Newton returns this year for another spook filled day. Prepare for a chilling day filled with activities, trick-or-treating, and entertainment! In its inaugural year, Spooktacular was a great success with an attendance of 3000 trick-or-treaters! The event was received with great enthusiasm, so continuing the event was only natural. Newton lacks great marquee events and Spooktacular can fill that void as an event residents can look forward to annually.
Spooktacular will be taking place along 137th street in the Newton Town Centre with trick-or-treating along the street and many activities to stop by at along your way. Take a pic at the photo booth for a free souvenir of the event and definitely take advantage of the props to spookify your photo. Then take a stroll over to the crafts and games section for some fun activities provided by the Newton Community Centre. And right beside there is the spook theatre if you dare to be frightened, be sure not to spill all your popcorn when you’re jolted with fear! What’s an event without music? Not so good, so make sure to stop by the DJ booth for some Halloween tunes to shake to, and be aware of surprise thriller dance offs throughout the day! Sounds like enough? We think not! Take a ride on the haunted train and walk on over to the petting zoo! Hungry? Stop by one of the food trucks or by some of the many nearby restaurants for a bite. And before going home, take a walk through the pumpkin patch! Pick out a pumpkin, but be sure to choose one that will make the best Jack-o-Lantern, and drop a small donation off at the Surrey Food Bank tent!
Spooktacular Newton is back for another day not to be missed. The event takes place on Saturday, October 22nd from 12pm-4pm. Dress up in your finest costume and bring the whole family out for a day filled with many free activities, trick-or-treating, pumpkins, and entertainment. See you there!
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