A long anticipated project for the Cloverdale BIA is finally being realized.
For several years, the BIA has advocated the 56A Avenue parking lot be expanded.
The City of Surrey bought a property adjacent to the current lot, removed a derelict house from it in 2022, and on Jan. 10 crews finished clearing vegetation from it. The property is behind the Dann’s Electronics building and behind Fire Hall No. 8. When done, the project will add another 24 parking spots to the downtown core.
“I’m excited were finally seeing this happen,” said Paul Orazietti, the executive director of the Cloverdale BIA. “I anticipate it will be open in two to three months. I’m hoping.”
Orazietti said the cost to expand the lot will be kept low for now as he’s proposing the city put down crushed gravel to get it open. Any talk of paving can happen at a later date, he said, when there is a budget for asphalt and landscaping.
“Where do we get the biggest impact? If we take the lot, clear it, and put crushed rock down, then we can use it right away. That’s the top priority. When it eventually gets paved, it’ll be a lot more money because you have to pave it, add in landscaping and lighting, and the cost goes up.”
He said the focus on parking spaces is still important as people aren’t getting out of their cars to use public transit. He also said with two busses an hour to Cloverdale, that won’t change anytime soon.
“We’re not seeing a big shift happening with getting people out of their cars,” he said. “ Regrettably, that doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. So I’m focusing on encouraging people to use EVs. But that also means improving the parking situation in Cloverdale.”
He added other parking improvement projects are coming, but nothing that is materializing soon. He said their may be a new lot added in on 58A Avenue in the future.
“We’re quite limited as it is around here for parking, because you can’t increase parking spaces without removing a building,” he explained. “So this was one of the, let’s say, less invasive ways to increase parking.”
Orazietti said the 56A Avenue project is basically the lowest hanging fruit for the BIA and it offers the highest reward.
“Of all the parking lots, it’s the busiest, historically, and always has been,” he said. “It’s smaller and there’s a lot of activity at businesses around it. So this is win-win for businesses, their customers, and workers. And the house was adjacent to a current parking lot. So it’s a relatively easy project to get people to buy into.”
The parking project dovetails in with another prong of action the BIA is taking and that is encouraging more businesses to come to Cloverdale. Orazietti said the vacancy rate in town is very low, but there is still a need to fill in some spaces.
“We need more people too,” he added. “We need more mixed-use buildings with residential on top and retail at street level.
“But it’s exciting. With more people comes more of everything else, festivals, retail, services, restaurants, shops, you name it.”