Newton BIA Director Philip Aguirre, inside the area’s tallest building. (Photo: Amy Reid)

Newton BIA Director Philip Aguirre, inside the area’s tallest building. (Photo: Amy Reid)

Second annual ‘State of Newton’ focuses on safety and light rail

Outgoing Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner was keynote speaker at the Newton BIA’s event

The Newton BIA hosted the second annual “State of Newton” address today (Sept. 27).

“With a new mayor and council in Surrey, will Newton transform or lose momentum?” BIA executive director Philip Aguirre asked the crowd.

“The Newton BIA is advocating at the second annual State of Newton for a decrease in crime, an increase in events and placemaking and to kick start redevelopment with density and LRT. Will the upcoming civic election deliver results for Newton, a community of 146,000 people that are in need of inspiration? Or will the politician’s priorities shift to another area?”

The BIA’s 2018 policy document calls for a three per cent increase in annual general duty RCMP, public consultations on social housing, a 100 per cent increase in the RCMP Community Response Unit, a city-wide event in Newton attracting 10,000 people, an annual homeless count, increased density with mixed-use development.

The BIA also wants to see expansion of the Newton Mural Laneway, an events centre including an arena, convention centre and hotel, as well as a “Central Park” or plaza.

Aguirre said light rail is Newton’s long-awaited “chance” at the revitalization it has sought for so long.

The event began at 8:30 a.m., on Sept. 27, at The Offices at Newton (7327 137th St). Things kicked off with breakfast, and presentations started at 10 a.m.

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner was the event’s keynote speaker, and in her address she noted Newton has the highest concentration of Surrey businesses than any other town centre.

“People are not leaving, people are coming,” said the outgoing mayor, as she thanked Aguirre for his dedication to the community.

Hepner told the crowd that Newton has seen more than $1 billion in investments over the last four years.

She went on to say she’s “frustrated” to hear election rhetoric about pausing, or cancelling, Surrey’s light rail project.

“We’ve got the money,” she said.

Hepner also revealed that the city would be relocating two bylaw officers to Newton, to work with the Chronic Offenders Team.

See also: ‘State of Newton’ calls for area’s ‘fair share’

At last year’s inaugural “State of Newton,” the BIA released a policy document for the first time that called for the community’s “fair share” of investment.”

It’s about “advocating together” as a community, instead of businesses and residents doing it separately, Aguirre said at the time.

Although the document’s creation was led by the BIA, it was created in partnership with seven other community groups in Newton, including Newton Community Association, Panorama Neighbourhood Association, East Panorama Ridge Community Association, West Panorama Ridge Ratepayers Association, Friends of the Grove, and others.

“Newton needs to be noticed,” Aguirre stressed. “Newton is a large community and needs to be a priority federally, provincially, civically.”

Stay tuned for updates from this year’s event.