Candidates share visions for Cloverdale fairgrounds

SURREY – An all-candidates meeting held Tuesday night (Oct. 28) at the historic Shannon Hall on Cloverdale Fairgrounds yielded answers from council hopefuls regarding their vision for the site’s redevelopment.


Candidates had wildly varying takes on what to do with fairgrounds, a property with a variety of buildings and venues, and home to the Cloverdale Rodeo since 1938.


Once the site for blue-ribbon cattle, it is now popular for flea market Sundays, professional wrestling shows and, this past summer, the Surrey Night Market debuted there with plans to continue and grow in future years.


Independent mayoral candidate John Wolanski would bring in a new ice rink and an indoor pool similar to that in Fleetwood.


"The people deserve it," he said.


Grant Rice, another independent seeking the mayor’s chair, asked why the new Cloverdale rec centre didn’t include a pool.


One Surrey mayoral contender Barinder Rasode committed to building a new trade centre on the site, and either a pool or an ice rink – dependent on community feedback.


But Surrey First’s mayoral candidate Linda Hepner said Rasode seems to have forgotten that the city has twice gone to the private sector for partnership, but noted none stepped forward. Former mayor Doug McCallum, leading the Safe Surrey Coalition, said "it’s time for action" at the fairgrounds.


Independent John Edwards said he wants a convention centre – not a trade centre – for the site, noting there are 19 across Canada.


What do council candidates think?


One Surrey’s Mike Bose, a hockey coach for years, said he would twin or even triple the rink, as was originally planned when it was built.


Safe Surrey’s Laurie Guerra noted her team’s plan to revamp the parks and recreation budget, but said the fairgrounds would be up to community feedback.


Surrey First’s Barbara Steele said the city has set up a task force to bring stakeholders together to look at the best use of the property, but wouldn’t proceed until the city can financially support it.


Teammate Bruce Hayne said Rasode plans to sell city land to fund her plan.


Tom Gill, also with Surrey First, said the 137-acre site is a "jewel," adding, "we want to keep this for our future."


One Surrey candidate Brian Young, president of the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce, said he wouldn’t put the city in debt to build.


Surrey First’s Judy Villeneuve noted a variety of completed projects in Cloverdale, including the youth park, phase one of Surrey Museum and the Surrey Animal Resource Centre.


Independent Cliff Blair, unlike any other candidates, wanted to make the fairgrounds a "destination theme park."

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