On Sept. 11, 1993, Surrey officially became a city, so this year, it marks its 20th birthday.
Coun. Linda Hepner was a city staffer in 1993, and helped organize the celebration when Surrey became a city.
One of the biggest changes she has seen over the years has been the huge influx of young people.
“We have become the city of choice for young families,” Hepner said Thursday. “We have more people under the age of 19 than anywhere else in the province. That’s big.”
That fact shapes how the city approaches some of its recreational programs, she said.
Development in Surrey has also boomed in recent decades. In the 1990s, the municipality’s population was poised to top 300,000. Since then, Surrey has expanded rapidly, almost doubling its population.
Today, Surrey’s population tops 500,000, and the city has experienced several record-breaking years of growth, particularly in the residential sector.
The formation of six distinct town centres – Fleetwood, Guildford, Newton, Cloverdale, South Surrey, and Whalley (now more commonly known as City Centre) – was recognized in the Official Community Plan in the early 1990s. These areas have become commercial hubs in Surrey.
The year after Surrey’s first birthday, the SkyTrain rolled into town, bringing with it the promise of better connections with Vancouver and other regional cities.
Moving forward, Hepner said Surrey needs to be more cognizant of its growing refugee population.
That means having services in place to help new Canadians and offering effective multicultural programs.
The City of Surrey had planned to celebrate the city’s birthday at its new city hall in City Centre. However, construction on the building is running about a month behind, so Hepner said a celebration will happen at the hall when it’s complete.