SURREY — What is Fleetwood? That’s the question a newly formed Fleetwood Business Improvement Association wants to answer.
“We want to give the community a feel,” said Amrit Bath, one of the founding members of the BIA. “Right now it feels a bit like an empty patch. When you come to Fleetwood there isn’t really any feel or core centre. Part of it is creating that community aspect and a strong vibe in Fleetwood.”
Bath is general manager of Basant Motors, which has been on Fraser Highway in Fleetwood for nearly three decades. He said businesses are leaving the area because there’s not a lot of drive to bring business.
“We’re not that united, we’re not promoting ourselves together. Some regions, like Edgemont in Vancouver, even Newton these days, they’re promoting business in the area, not just the businesses themselves. It’s hard for one business to survive on its own.”
Speaking of Edgemont, Bath hopes a rebranded Fleetwood can mimic that community’s vibe.
“So, clean landscaping on the street, some unity in terms of the shops and the feel. We have car dealerships and other businesses with their own unique landscaping. It doesn’t always blend together,” Bath said.
He also hopes to see the city put more thought into a long-term vision for the whole community of Fleetwood going forward.
“Right now it seems like some parts are getting developed and some are just sitting. This will help put Fleetwood on the map,” Bath added.
Right now, 160 property owners in Fleetwood – all the way from 152nd Street through to 168th Street, along and near Fraser Highway – are being consulted to gauge support for the BIA, and so far it’s been positive, according to Bath. But because there is a levy involved in joining a BIA, they need to gauge the level of acceptance before moving forward.
A formal report will likely go before Surrey city council in January.
Rick Hart is also involved in the BIA’s formation. He noted there are two main areas of commerce in Fleetwood – the area of 152nd Street and Fraser Highway, then at 160th and Fraser – and the main goal is to unite them both.
“We kind of came to the conclusion that we’re all one neighbourhood,” he said. “What we want to ensure is that we have an overarching business association that incorporates both districts and synergies so they work together – not in competition – with each other.”
Fleetwood faces pressures from several other shopping areas, Hart noted, pointing to Willowbrook, Clayton and Guildford.
“We’re kind of the lost child in the middle,” he said, adding it’s a chance to create something unique.
He noted urban sprawl has created some disconnect, but he looks at it as an opportunity to rejuvenate.
“We want to brainstorm about what we can do as a group to bring folks to Fleetwood, rather than just drive by,” said Hart. “Ultimately, we hope to look toward branding Fleetwood, cross-promotions with small businesses, physical improvements and things like working with developers.”
The BIA aims to give business a “formal and collective voice,” Hart added. Show your support by filling out a form on the group’s website, Fleetwoodbia.com.