Premier David Eby announced a $1 billion grant for local government infrastructure while in Surrey on Friday morning. Mayor Brenda Locke is hopeful Surrey’s slice of that pie could be up to $80 million.
“I don’t have anything firm, I just know that given our population size and the growth – and that’s what they’re basing it on – we are really hopeful that Surrey will get somewhere in the neighbourhood of $60 million to $80 million,” Locke told the Now-Leader. “It’s a significant amount of money, I am so grateful for this. It will be so helpful for us in building the infrastructure we need.”
Joined by Locke and Minister of Municipal Affairs Anne Kang, Eby made his Feb. 10 announcement in the lobby of the Newton Recreation Centre, at 13730-72 Ave. He noted that Surrey alone has grown by 10 per cent since 2016, with roughly 70,000 more people needing access to recreation facilities, using Surrey’s roads and relying on the water treatment plant.
“B.C.’s strong economy and natural beauty continue to attract people from across Canada and around the world. Cities and towns need support to build thriving, livable communities,” Eby said. “The new Growing Communities Fund will help local municipalities improve roads, build more arenas and water facilities, and improve recreation options for families.”
It’s a $1 billion pool from which all 188 of B.C.’s municipalities and regional districts can draw to address their specific infrastructure and amenities demands such as recreation facilities, parks, improving roads and water-treatment plants, to help prepare for future growth and build amenities to support new home construction.
“I believe every B.C. community should be a place where you can build a good life,” Eby said.
Locke said at the presser called it “an amazing announcement for Surrey.”
“I’m somewhat overwhelmed and very grateful to the government, to Premier Eby, Minister Kang and all of the Surrey MLAs that I know are supportive of our city every single day,” she said. “This is an exciting announcement for us right here in the heart of Newton.”
She said this investment by the provincial government “is so much needed for our community’s infrastructure. As we know, Surrey is the fastest growing city in British Columbia and we are growing at a break-neck speed. Our innovative, rapidly growing city welcomes 1,200 new residents every single month.
“This investment from the province,” Locke said, “will ensure the quality of life for Surrey is not only maintained but improved. From recreational facilities to parks to roads, this investment through the Growing Communities Fund will benefit the residents of Surrey both now and well into the future.”
“This is important to us, it’s needed by our city and we are entirely grateful.”
Meantime, Safe Surrey Coalition councillors Doug Elford and Mandeep Nagra want Surrey’s allocation to go toward building the Newton Community Centre project on King George Boulevard.
“Newton has been underfunded and neglected for far too long. As one of the fastest-growing communities in Surrey, with a large population of young families, it is time for city council to prioritize their needs,” Elford said.
Nagra said Surrey’s cut of the grant could “provide a much-needed boost to Newton” and “ensure that families in the area have access to the resources they need to thrive.”
Elford said Friday he suspects Locke’s estimate is “low ball.”
“We’re about 12 per cent of the province so if they give you a billion dollars that’s $120 million,” he told the Now-Leader. “I’m hopeful that’s an underestimate but we’ll take what we can get. I guess we’ll find out when the numbers truly come out. This is a guessing game right now.
“The way it was described to me is it’s based on a percentage of your population. I think we deserve more.”