GUILDFORD – In a packed room at the Vancouver Sheraton Guildford Hotel on May 20, Mayor Linda Hepner shared her vision for Surrey’s future with a crowd of about 450.
In a nutshell, she said her dreams for Surrey centre surround innovation, but she began by addressing crime – the "elephant in the room."
She said the city is hunting for a director of public safety strategies – an election promise – a new person at city hall whose job it will be to integrate the work and programs of police, fire, bylaws and other city departments.
She estimates the position will be filled in three to six months.
But innovation is what Hepner hammered on, touting the success of Surrey’s Innovation Boulevard in city centre. Hepner said the city will now broaden that success into the fields of clean tech, agri-innovation and social innovation.
She said Newton has become a "hotbed" of clean tech innovation, being home to Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre, SFU’s Fuel Cell Research Lab, and more. She’s dubbed a new initiative "EcoNewton" that will pull together all the clean tech work in Newton’s industrial area to become an "international hub."
Agriculture was also on Hepner’s agenda.
In partnership with the BC Agriculture Centre of Excellence and universities, Surrey will become a "living laboratory" for agri-innovation, with plans to build a virtual incubator farm. A "biopod" project is also in the works. Treeplanting work will double over the next four years, said Hepner – from 2,500 trees a year to 5,000.
The city will also hold its first social innovation summit this November, and a seniors advocate will be appointed at city hall.