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‘Tremendous honour’ for transportation exec to be elected chair of Downtown Surrey BIA

Samujh-Dayal is the second woman in that role since 2001, and first woman of colour
Shirley Samujh-Dayal is the new chair of Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association’s executive board. (Submitted photo)

A woman with more than 25 years of experience in the transportation industry is the new chair of Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association (BIA).

Elected to the position, Shirley Samujh-Dayal is just the second woman in that role with the BIA since 2001, and the first woman of colour.

Samujh-Dayal is director of operations for Coast Mountain Bus Company, and has been on the board of Downtown Surrey BIA since 2016.

She said it’s “a tremendous honour to be selected from such as outstanding group of board members to be Chair during this important time in the downtown core.”

“I am looking forward to continuing to promote and foster the reputation of the downtown precinct of Surrey as being one of the most impactful business districts in our province,” Samujh-Dayal stated.

“Today, the downtown core is a rapidly growing academic and business hub for British Columbia, as well as a growing residential district. Continuing this positive momentum is a key priority for me over the next two years.”

The board steers direction of the BIA with the help of staff including Elizabeth Model, CEO.

Samujh-Dayal grew up in Surrey, graduated from Princess Margaret Secondary and lived in the city until a recent move to Langley.

With Coast Mountain Bus Company, she oversees almost a million boardings per day over an 1,800-square-kilometer service area across 200 routes, and more than 4,000 staff members.

“Transporation is near and dear to my heart,” Samujh-Dayal said, “and now we’re seeing the extension of SkyTrain out to Langley City, through Fleetwood, and I think that’s going to be a big welcome for people into Surrey’s downtown core. The plans of the Mayors’ Council are future connections to communities like Newton and Guildford, so to me this is an exciting time.”

She said “it’s an honour” to be the second woman to chair the BIA since 2001. “But it also makes me sad in a way – sad that we haven’t had more women in this type of leadership role,” Samujh-Dayal added. “I hope we will see more in the future. When I’m downtown and talking to people, business owners and people in the community, I see so many brilliant, inspirational women in the Downtown Surrey area, and I really hope to see more of them on our board and future chairs.

“As far as being the first South Asian woman and a visible minority, I didn’t think of that initially, but that does make me feel really proud. It’s nice to be on a board that’s very representative of the community, the multicultural community that Surrey is.”

Samujh-Dayal is excited about the year ahead, in particular, as COVID-triggered restrictions ease.

“Post-pandemic, we’re going to be able to have some events again and be out in the community, so I look forward to that. It’ll be nice to navigate away from Zoom meetings and Team, all that, and actually meet people face-to-face again.”

New directors, each owning a business or property in Surrey’s downtown core, were elected to the BIA’s board on Feb. 18 during the organization’s annual general meeting. The 20-member board consists of 11 new members and nine returning for the second of a two-year term.

In addition to Samujh-Dayal’s election as Chair of the BIA board, Randall Dhaliwal (FASKEN Law Group) is 1st Vice Chair, Sonny Janda (Janda Development Group) is 2nd Vice Chair, Perminder Tung (King George Surrey Holdings) is Treasurer, and Monica Vanderzalm (Eurocan Industries) is Secretary.

Launched in 2001 and covering 414 acres in North Surrey, the Downtown Surrey BIA’s primary goal is “to assist businesses and commercial property owners in the Downtown Surrey area to build a safe and vibrant community, with a livable downtown area.”

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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