Skip to content

Surrey plans 12,000-seat stadium, mayor says ‘groundwork already begun’

Brenda Locke outlined economic vision for city during sold-out luncheon at Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel on Feb. 15
Mayor Locke delivers State of City Address on Thursday (Feb. 15). (Photo: Anna Burns)

Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke, in her first State of the City Address since being elected to the office in 2022, touched on investing in “big city amenities,” building a 12,000-seat stadium or arena here, striving to create one job for every resident worker, the opening of “UBC at Surrey” this year, and rebuilding public trust.

“Public trust had been lost and is foundational to any progress,” she said Feb. 15. “Now there is only one door to Surrey City Hall – no back doors, no side doors, no doors for those with special privilege.”

She received a standing ovation.

Gone are the days of Surrey being seen as a bedroom community, she told her audience at Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel.

“This means we will invest in big city amenities, like major sporting and events facilities, entertainment and music venues, as well as unique dining options in Surrey. We know that our residents want those options in their city and they have made that very clear in our public consultations.”

The mayor noted Surrey is already a sports destination. Including the Canada Cup Softball Championships and Haley Wickenheiser’s Wickfest, Surrey hosted 24 “sport tourism events last year, and we can do more.

“With that in mind,” she said, “I am happy to announce here first, that council is looking to add a 12,000-seat stadium or arena in Surrey. That groundwork has already begun, and tomorrow we are launching an economic and feasibility study to get us there.”

READ ALSO: Surrey’s population 1,054,376 by 2046

READ ALSO: Surrey council approves 2 more high-rise projects for downtown

READ ALSO: Pro-Palestine protesters once again lay siege to Surrey council

READ ALSO: Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke’s State of the City Address set for Feb. 15

Locke outlined her economic vision for the city during a sold-out luncheon hosted by Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce, South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce and Surrey Board of Trade. Tickets sold for $150 apiece and $1,650 for a table of 11. All told, 430 tickets were sold. The event was also made available via live-stream.

Surrey is currently B.C.’s second largest city and the 12th largest in Canada.

“Surrey will soon be the biggest city in B.C. In fact, we may already be there,” Locke said. “But more than being the biggest city in B.C., Surrey is poised to reach one million people by 2042. Let’s just let that fact sink in for a moment. We are talking about almost doubling our population in less than 20 years.

“The brass ring is for Surrey to grab,” Locke said in her first such address since she was elected mayor on Oct. 15, 2022.

“And I know, if any city can do it, the people of Surrey will. The fact is, there is no stopping us.

“I invite all of you to join me on this exciting journey because it is for you and generations to come. It’s going to be a heck of a ride, Surrey, so everyone buckle up!”

On the public safety front, Locke said she is also “happy to say” that city council has committed to hiring 25 more firefighters, 25 more police officers and 10 more bylaw officers annually.

With a nod to Surrey’s “substantial” trucking industry, she said, council is creating five new city-owned truck parking sites.

On the housing front, she said, last year more than 5,200 building permits were issued for new homes and currently there are more than 64,000 housing units in the approval pipeline.

“When this Council was elected, we made housing a priority. Looking at new ways for the city to help by expediting the process and ensuring that access is fair for everyone,” she said.

With population growth comes infrastructure challenges, childcare for one.

Locke noted the city has secured $18 million to create 370 new childcare spaces by 2025.

“The challenging news is we are still short 6,000 spaces,” she said. “To that end, council will be asking city staff to begin developing a strategy that will use an evidence-based approach to articulate our social infrastructure needs, so that other levels of government understand the urgency of our challenge and that they do their part to close critical gaps in our community.”

As for the 12,000-seat arena, the city is looking at three locations, in Whalley, Cloverdale and Newton.

“Probably the one that people want to see the most is the one at city centre,” she told reporters after her speech. “Near Chuck Bailey, where the BC Lions area is.”

What would that mean for the football team, which practises there?

“There is a large field area there, yes. They will be part of it but there has to be feasibility to see that we can do it and how we would integrate that into a stadium.

“The work we have done to date shows that between 12,000 and 15,000 seats makes sense for our community,” she said. “We will do a full and transparent study.

“We have had some interest by some semi-pro teams already but we haven’t had any of those discussions.”

Former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum, in his bid for re-election in 2022, vowed to build a 60,000-seat stadium in Surrey as part of his platform but he was defeated by Locke.

Following her address, McCallum issued a press release calling her proposal “short-sighted” and “out of touch with the city’s potential.” He said the city deserves “a facility that mirrors its global aspirations and dynamic growth, not a small minded out of touch lacklustre plan that undermines our potential.”

He argues the stadium should have 40,000 seats “at least,” and be located at 168 Street and Fraser Highway. In the same press release, Safe Surrey Coalition Coun. Mandeep Nagra said he fears Locke will cancel plans to build a Newton Community Centre and re-direct those funds “towards her vanity pet project to build her small-minded out of touch stadium.”

Asked if she’s “stealing” the SSC’s stadium idea, Locke told reporters “I think we’re realistic. We’re going to do our due diligence because we must.”

During her address, Locke said because too many Surrey residents are “leaving the city for their entertainment,” the city wants to build “entertainment districts” in the city centre and Cloverdale and “will be looking to private investment opportunities to help create the sports, nightlife, theatre, dining, and retail options for resident to enjoy.”

She noted her council brought back the Surrey City Development Corporation, which the SSC shut down. She noted SCDC is working on six residential buildings near Gateway SkyTrain Station that will create 1,800 new housing units and will also finish its work at Centre Block at City Hall.

“If you see the work that SCDC has done with Centre Block,” she told reporters, the downtown entertainment district “will be all around what that looks like, and how we can expand more entertainment options in the core, and looking at all the development that’s in the core.”

City of Surrey imaged of a proposed events centre and sportsplex in Surrey. (Photo: Anna Burns)

About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
Read more