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Social Innovation Summit Report November 2017



Maximum Canada

How do we build the strategic imagination that can shape our cities and communities to lead the world in achieving prosperity, sustainability, equality and reconciliation? Questions such as this are raised by Doug Saunders in his book ‘Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough’. His book roots for the open, pluralistic and connected Canada chosen by a determined yet fragile majority that favors immigration, multiculturalism and free trade.

Doug Sanders was the opening keynote speaker at the third annual Surrey Social Innovation Summit held on November 15 at the City Hall. His presentation was on the topic of ‘Arrival City and How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Surrey and Canada’s Cities’. His confident vocabulary and vivid presentation of innovations from all parts of the globe flashed before the participating delegates a bold vision of possibilities to include all sections of community in an equal economy of vibrant businesses and thriving neighborhoods.

This year’s Summit was designed to enable conversations and discussions tackling these very key questions of how to achieve social and economic inclusion, how to reinvent city spaces to solve social challenges and how to connect individuals, neighborhoods and businesses. The underlying theme for the Summit was a call for inclusion and collaboration to find innovative solutions for common challenges together.

Welcome Ceremony

The opening remarks of the Summit started with a ceremonial welcome by Kevin Kelly and Michael Kelly Gabriel of Kwantlen First Nation. The Father and Son team invoked ancient wisdom promoting peace, love and harmony that also reminded of our obligation to build sustainably and responsibly so as to pass on a better place to succeeding generations.

Following the welcome remarks and opening plenary, concurrent breakout sessions were offered on the topics of ‘Diversity = Innovation’, ‘Social Procurement: Putting the economy to work for Social Innovation’ and ‘Public Participation: Every Voice Matters’

An interactive Community Art project:

An ideas tower developed by the City in collaboration with SFU displayed in the foyer invited participants to express their ideas and connect discs as building blocks. One of the delegates, Jessica studying at KPU appreciated the “symbolism of the project demonstrating visually how we as a community are linked together and so are our passions”

Doing more together

The summit attracted a good mix of local businesses, social organizations and members of the local community leading their own projects with a passion for making positive social change. Manaktahla Charanjit Singh, a member of the Envision Financial Community Leaders Igniting Change (CLIC) program was attending for inspiration and to build networks.  He also volunteers with the City Fire Services

Placemaking with People in Mind: Breakout Session

This session invited architects and thought leaders in City Development to discuss the role of community engagement in defining public spaces and their use. “Placemaking is a natural organic process of having people express what they would like to become…”in the words of Fred Kent, President, Project for Public Spaces. The goal he elaborated is to find ways for community to express their cultures, enjoy their social life, contribute in their work by reinventing public spaces to become the heart of the community. Participants at the breakout session described it as thought provoking.  “It was interesting to examine the tension between design and people’s needs that animates & activates spaces…” was the comment made by one attendee.  Discussions about how cities can provide architectural solutions to address social challenges of poverty, homelessness, unemployment, addiction and others was a theme that engaged delegates throughout the summit.

‘Filling empty spaces’ both conceptually by increasing dialogue between communities and physically by creating user friendly spaces was also a message in the keynote presentation. Doug Sanders lamented “we waste people”. He shared best practices of interventions to support newcomers. New economies are born when cities address built in barriers such as lack of public transport and mass rapid transit systems, suburban concrete buildings with architectural inhibitions to enterprise and access to customers, bureaucratic hurdles to start a new business, obstacles in the pathways to citizenship, lack of recognition of foreign credentials and experience as well as a shortage of good schools in areas in highly dense diverse neighbourhoods to tackle post code racism etc. Globally some cities have successfully intervened with changes to perceptions, policy and infrastructure.

Mistakes can be huge learning opportunities – Voice of the Youth

Two of the breakout sessions before lunch invited panelists to hear from Youth about their successes in advocating for change and to discuss social responsibility to the Youth. Delegates learnt about Entrepreneurship Programs offered by YELL to young students, and the work of RADIUS SFU which was also offered as a workshop late afternoon that day. “Kids need opportunity and direction to thrive” said Harmeet Nanda describing the youth support work of the Youth Entrepreneur Leadership Launched (YELL). Amelia Douglas, a recent graduate from SFU with Masters in Public Policy appreciated the diversity of speakers and the choice of panelists for the sessions. She applauded the organization and information shared by young change makers.

Lunch by Tayybeh

Lunch comprised of delicious home style Syrian food provided by the women of Tayybeh, a social enterprise offering a catering service with authentic Syrian cuisine.

Nihal Elwan, the Founder of Tayybeh explained her motivation behind this work. “Our mission is to provide newly arrived Syrian women an opportunity to generate income, to be financially independent and integrate within the economy and society. We started off by creating large dining events, pop up buffets. People loved the food and to satisfy a growing demand we launched a catering component.”

SFU Ambassadors

SFU’s student Ambassadors volunteered at the Summit as part of an initiative to offer capacity-building training and event and conference related transitional work experience as a pathway to commensurate employment. Mavis Gevido volunteered in the Summit through this program supporting in event coordination. “Learning about ‘Social Procurement’ was the most interesting aspect of participating in this Summit” she said. “With my background in the corporate sector in HR Management and Training, it was a refreshing insightful experience to learn how agencies and organizations collaborate put the social agenda before profit” she added.

‘It is I who must begin’

Strategies to rebuild the declining trust and to increase public participation in Civic affairs were discussed in the morning breakout session. Provision of terms of reference enables participatory dialogue and consultation preventing extreme disruptive voices from hijacking the process explained one panelist Mario Canseco from Insights West. Susanna Haas Lyons, a Civic Engagement Specialist addressed the concern that only one section of the community sometimes attends consultations on City matters. ‘Who needs to participate in what proportion for results to be credible’ is how the objectives of the consultation should be framed she suggested. Kathleen Burke quoted Ronald A Heifetz saying ‘What people resist is not change per se, but loss’. She reiterated that consultation begins with a conversation.

Indigenizing Our City: Transformation begins with honest reflection

Innovation is not just about new things. It is also about bringing the past into the present to address our current situation – Senator Murray Sinclair

Duncan McCue, Journalist and Host of CBC Cross Country Checkup offered an engaging insight into the progress and plight of indigenous communities across the country. He shared ongoing efforts of various cities to indigenize beyond mere symbolism through creation of indigenous business districts, visible cultural landscapes, street renaming projects, language conservation and many other ways. He inspired listeners to not shy away from controversial topics, to not be afraid to ask difficult questions which sometimes spark the next big idea.

To make change it is necessary to dream of a better tomorrow.  Social innovation is about realizing a better future through experimenting, learning and collaborating. Summits such as this one provide that inspiration for the next innovative idea, for effective, efficient, sustainable solutions to social challenges.

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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5 Restaurants and a New Year in Surrey!



Afghan Kitchen, Surrey BC.

Another new year approaches: Surrey 2022 here we go! But with the new Covid restrictions, where are you going to enjoy this Friday night, whether you intend to celebrate New Years Eve or just celebrate because it’s Friday? 

We have a list, albeit a short one, of restaurants that are open on New Year’s Eve.

Dominion Bar & Kitchen, Surrey BC | Instagram post.

Open until midnight. Reservations are recommended but not a must. This Surrey restaurant is well known for their Canadian dishes, complemented by an exciting list of cocktails, BC wines, and local craft beer, in an open concept restaurant with high top tables and chairs. Bones: they will be offering an all day happy hour on Friday.

The Clayton, Surrey BC | Instagram posts.

Open until 2am. The Clayton is a unique choice. Although there will not be a party they do have a DJ, along with classic tasty Canadian dishes and appetizers, plus 3 incredible fire tables available in their fully covered & heated patio spaces. Also, they have a ton of drink specials, just in case you might be drinking responsibly during your visit.

The Cabin, Crescent Beach – Surrey BC | Pan-seared halibut, Instagram Post

Open until 10pm. Featuring a $60 New Year’s Eve menu, The Cabin is a solid choice for a Pacific Northwest experience featuring seafood, “AAA” steaks, gourmet pasta, local craft beers, and a healthy selection of wine. It should be noted, as of right now, 7:30pm onwards is fully booked, however we’ve been told there might be some cancellations. You can and should put your name on the waitlist.

Afghan Kitchen, Surrey BC

Open until 10pm. Featuring traditional Afghan cuisine. If you live in Surrey, you know this place is amazing. If you don’t, that’s ok, just watch this episode about them on CBC Vancouver’s YouTube. Mom’s cooking never tasted better. Now, perhaps you’re saying to yourself, “Nothing special here, where’s the party!?” however, since many restaurants are closing early this year, and especially living in one of the most diverse cities in BC, what better way to enjoy your end of year than with a local culinary “staycation” at one of Canada’s top 100 restaurants!

With that said, last but not least by any means:

Kathmandu Bar & Grill, Surrey BC | Instagram post.

Open until 1130pm. Serving a delicious blend of Nepalese, Indo-Chinese, and Western Cuisine. Like we said, while in Surrey, try something new. Allow your tastebuds to create a mini celebration for you, safely at your table.

Have we helped? We certainly hope so! 

No matter how you plan to enjoy this Friday December 31, stay safe, stay warm and we wish, as always, the very best for you and your family.


See you next year!

Desire Kokuvi Amouzou

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The best trails to explore in Surrey this fall



Image via @waferboard / Flickr

There is something beautiful about walking or biking along a trail full of trees with changing leaves and this is the perfect time of year to experience it. Surrey Centre has some amazing trails to explore in the Green Timbers and Holland Park areas that are perfect for a leisurely stroll, a jog, a bike ride or a family affair that the pets and kids can join. Here is a list of the best trails to check out.

Holland Park Loop

Holland Park is a popular park in Surrey, one that hosts plenty of outdoor events, music festivals and gatherings. On top of that, the park also includes a trail loop perfect for a leisurely stroll. The Holland Park Loop is 0.8 kilometres long and is good for all skill levels. The trail is popular for walking, running, and road biking. There are often dogs seen on the trail when it’s nice out, and it’s a great place to take the family and kids. This loop is best used from April to November.

Birch and Willow Trail

Part of Green Timbers forest, the Birch and Willow Trail is a 1.8-km loop. This trail offers scenic views as it features a lake that is often full of ducks. It’s a great walk for kids as well, and has plenty of signs to follow. The trail is popular for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips. The gravel makes it a nice trail even on a rainy day.

Birch Salal and Douglas Loop

Another loop in Green Timbers is the Birch, Salal and Douglas Loop. This is a bit longer at 2.9 km. This loop also features the lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail is flat with lots of shade. It’s a great place to go for a walk, jog, or bike ride. There is an area for picnics by the lake where you can take a rest after your exercise. This trail is often used for hiking, walking, running, and biking. There is limited parking in the area, so be prepared to walk to the trail.

Salmonberry, Yellow Arum, Douglas Fir and Hemlock Loop

If you are looking for a longer trail in Green Timbers, you will find the Salmonberry, Yellow Arum, Douglas Fir and Hemlock Loop. This is a 5.6-km loop. As the name implies there are beautiful trees along this hike. The trail is acceptable for all levels, though it is a bit longer so it’s best to prepare ahead. The trail is popular for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips. In certain spots the trail comes close to the road, and some areas can be waterlogged at times, but it’s an enjoyable walk all the same. 

Hawthorne Park Loop

Hawthorne Park Loop is a 1.9-km trail in beautiful Hawthorne Park. There is a lot of nature to take in here including plenty of beautiful wildflowers making this loop a favourite among birdwatchers. Good for all skill levels, this trail is popular for walking, running, and nature trips. Dogs are welcome on this trail but must be on a leash. This area is very popular amongst hikers and runners, for good reason.

Willow, Cedar and Pine Trail

There is one more Green Timbers trail worth mentioning. The Willow, Cedar and Pine Trail is a 2.6-km back trail. The lake is accessible from this trail as well and it is suitable for beginner hikers. This loop is great for a walk or run.

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5 ways Affordable Housing will Benefit the City of Surrey



Lack of affordable housing has quickly become one of the largest barriers in preventing homelessness in British Columbia. Having served the Lower Mainland for the past 50 years, Options Community Services and Habitat Housing Society are working to provide safe, affordable rental units for the local community

Options provides essential social services in Surrey, Delta, White Rock/South Surrey and Langley. Recently, the organization has partnered with 50 local women to help raise $1.5 million in funding for a new affordable housing building in Surrey, BC. The money raised in this partnership will go towards the 100-unit complex at 81st and King George Boulevard. Of these 100 units, 30 will be market rentals, while the remaining 70 will be well below market rates —designated as affordable housing, with rent starting as low as $375 per month. This building and the resources connected to it will make a monumental impact on the community. Here are 5 ways that this building will directly impact Surrey:

1. Additional Resources:

Not only will the affordable housing build feature 100 new rental units, but it will also feature several community services provided by Options. These services include Early Years, special needs services for children and mental health outreach. Having these programs available for tenants in the building will be a bonus for all.

2. Build Relationships:

Whether it’s a social worker or an elementary school teacher, having and maintaining long-lasting relationships is crucial to establishing roots in a community. These networks of support will help at-risk individuals and vulnerable people build stability in their lives and increase their sense of community. Knowing there are people in your neighbourhood that can help support you can be a relief for individuals who do not have friends, family, or any other source of support.

3. Accessibility:

Currently, the housing market is very hot and the number of buyers is outnumbering the available stock. This applies to both home buyers and renters who are looking for affordable places to stay. This building offers 100 brand-new units that are affordable for low-income families. These families otherwise might not have any other options to turn to and be forced to consider unsafe housing conditions. Priced at $375 monthly for a one-bedroom, these homes can change the lives of those who are in need.  

4. Increased Safety:

By having a door to lock and a place to call home, the safety and security of the community is enhanced. Far too often, vulnerable peoples are subjected to unsafe conditions or forced to make tough choices. Many of these individuals are women fleeing violence, refugees, displaced seniors, at-risk youth or persons living on a disability income. . Housing such as this will better protect these groups and ensure that they have access to safe, secure and affordable places to live.

5. Job Growth:

The success of our vulnerable community members is a success for us all. In communities with affordable housing, there is often a growth in job opportunities.  A study by the New York State Association for Affordable Housing found that affordable housing projects created nearly 330,000 jobs in New York between 2011 and 2015, with many of them being permanent or long-lasting contracts (source). From engineers to health care workers, the growth of a community can directly contribute to an increased demand for workers. 

The Women of Options campaign was created to support the build at King George and 81st. More information and a profile on each of the 50 Women of Options can be found at Community support is vital to ensure its success. To learn more about ways to help or donate, please visit

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Plastic Bag and Foam Takeout Container Ban Planned To Come Into In Effect November 2021



The City of Surrey moves a step closer in eliminating the negative environmental impacts of plastic bags and other single-use Items.

At last night’s Regular Council Meeting, Council approved the Communication and Education Plan to prepare businesses for the ban on plastic bags and foam takeout container and cups, planned to begin in November 2021.

“I’m proud that Surrey is anticipated to be the first city in the Metro Vancouver region to implement a ban on plastic checkout bags,” says Mayor McCallum.

“Council has been leading the way on green initiatives and this step is proof of the measures we are prepared to take to protect and better our environment. This move affirms Surrey’s commitment to reducing landfill waste and pollution created by these types of materials.

In the coming months, we will be working closely with our business community to support them on this very important initiative that is good for our citizens, our communities and our City.”

The City will lead a comprehensive communication and education plan to help businesses phase out and eliminate the use and distribution of plastic checkout bags, foam cups and take-out containers.

The plan outlines key tools, resources and awareness activities which will prepare businesses and the public for the upcoming ban.

The plan will include:

  • A business toolkit;
  • Virtual information sessions;
  • Brochures; and
  • Additional engagement activities and resources.

Other municipalities, provinces, and the federal government are making similar commitments to reducing unnecessary waste and pollution caused by short-lived plastics that are designed for limited use with limited recyclability.

For more information on Surrey’s please visit our site.

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Surrey Libraries Offers Access to O’Reilly eBooks and Videos



Surrey Libraries is excited to announce the addition of O’Reilly eBooks to its list of online resources. This platform offers over 35,000 eBooks and 30,000 hours of video courses on technology, business, design, science, engineering, travel, hobbies, health and more, all free with a Surrey Libraries card!

O’Reilly has books and videos for makers, gamers and tinkerers. There are more than 100 hobbyist titles including a STEAM Lab for Kids and The Lego Build-It Book, Volumes 1 & 2. More than 900 books from the “For Dummies” series are included, as well as over 150 titles on job-seeking and career development.

The resource also has technology learning paths like SQL Fundamentals – SQL for Data Analysis and Database Design, case studies like “Pinterest’s Journey to the Cloud,” and countless hours of video instruction on topics like Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, Linux Fundamentals, or Amazon Web Services.

O’Reilly is one of many online resources Surrey Libraries offers its members. No library card? No problem! Sign up for a card online or visit any one of ten branch locations.

We’re excited to welcome you back to our branches! Check our website for information on hours and available services and what we’re doing to keep everyone safe.

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