Surrey’s Holland Park. (Photo: surrey.ca)

Surrey council approves $357-million parks and rec plan, including 29 new parks

The 10-year strategy includes two new athletic parks, new ‘urban’ parks in Newton, Guildford and Fleetwood Town Centres

Surrey City Council has just passed a new parks and rec plan that Mayor Linda Hepner called a “great blueprint for what the next decade will look like” for the city.

The new plan, endorsed during Monday night’s council meeting, replaces the previous 2008 plan.

All told, the $367-million plan includes the creation of 29 new parks and major renovation or expansion of another 17, in addition to the ongoing conveyance of sensitive ecosystem areas “to accommodate the growing and changing needs of residents.”

Also planned are new athletic parks in Grandview Heights and Fleetwood, a new riverfront park along the Nicomekl River and new “urban” parks in Newton, Guildford and Fleetwood Town Centres.

“Those are really important to me because if we’re densifying and people are living in smaller homes and townhomes and condos, we need more parks. So 45 more, either new or expanded in the next decade is going to serve us well,” Hepner told the Now-Leader.

“That’s why we need the new urban parks as well. If we’re going to be a more urbanized centre, we need more parks.”

As a city that’s been criticized for allowing the clearing of too many trees, Hepner said it can be difficult to portray how it balances the city’s population growth and development, with the creation of new public green space.

“This certainly shows our consideration of the balance for quality of life,” she said. “If you’re going to increase in population, you had better have the facilities and services that provide a healthy environment, and the kind of ecosystem people expect when they move here.”

Major capital projects outlined in the plan, some of which are already underway, include new community centres in Clayton and Grandview, expansions to Fleetwood and Chuck Bailey community centres, new ice rinks in Whalley and Cloverdale, the Museum of Surrey expansion, an Interactive Arts Museum in City Centre, and a performing arts facility in South Surrey that would include a 300- to 400-seat theatre, rehearsal hall, classrooms and offices, and would be an Indigenous ceremony and gathering space.

With a population nearing 520,000 and as one of the fastest growing cities in Canada, it’s expected that by 2041, one in five Metro Vancouver residents will call Surrey home.

“New parks are key to developing an attractive, engaging and vibrant place to live,” the plan notes.

In the next three years, the plan suggests the creation of a West Clayton park, as well as expansion of the Cloverdale Athletic Park. Redevelopment of the Francis Park is planned, as is expansion of Walnut Park. In the same period, a new North Surrey Community Park is planned, along with two new Newton sites (Edmund Drive and Newton Urban park) as well as expansion of Newton Athletic Park.

Four new parks are planned for South Surrey within three years, including Mountain View, Orchard Grove, Nicomekl Riverfront and Sunnyside Heights parks, as well as expansion of Glades Park.

In Whalley, three new parks are planned during that time frame, including West Village, Quibble Creek and North Slope parks, along with expansion of Hawthorne Park.

In the “medium term” of four to six years, Cloverdale is set to receive six new parks (East Clayton, Ahola Estates, three parks in West Clayton alone, as well as McClellan Creek Park). An athletic park is slated for Fleetwood in that time frame, as is an Abby Ridge Park near Lyncean Drive in Fraser Heights.

Several parks are planned for Newton within four to six years, including phase two of Colebrook Park, the addition of Woodward Hill and South Newton Neighbourhood parks, and expansion of McLeod Park. That time frame will also see a new Sunnyside Heights Park, as well as a new Grandview Heights Athletic park (proposed for east of the existing aquatic centre), and Whalley will see a new park called Rowberry Park built.

Long term, within seven to 10 years, the plan includes one new park for Cloverdale, in West Clayton, as well as redevelopment of Clayton Park.

In the same period, the city plans to expand the Godwin Biodiversity Preserve, and build a Fleetwood Town Centre Park. Newton will see expansion of Unwin Park during this period, and three new parks are planned for South Surrey (Campbell Heights Linear, Darts Neighbourhood and Fergus Biodiversity Preserve parks), in addition to a “phase two” of the Nicomekl Riverfront Park.

Finally, in Whalley during this time frame, the city will expand Holland Park, Surrey Nature Centre grounds, and launch phase two of Forsyth Park, and also create a new Bolivar Ravine Park.

In addition to projects, ratios of residents to hectares of parks are set out in the plan, both for city parks that “embody the identity and image of the city,” such as Bear Creek or Holland parks (1.2 hectares per 1,000 Surrey residents), as well as community parks that attract residents from outside the immediate area such as Fleetwood or Crescent parks (1.0 hectares per 1,000 residents on a community basis).

In developing the plan, the city said it received feedback from more than 5,000 people and more than 250 community groups during 10 months of consultation, via workshops, public events, surveys and more.

The plan is to be reviewed annually, as well as monitoring of the 23 “strategic objectives” it lays out.

City staff will also measure the total amount of parkland in the city and the proximity of residents to amenities (specifically, the percentage of homes within 400 metres of parks, trails and community facilities as a “liveability” measurement).

Currently, Surrey has more than 290 “active” parks and 1,500 hectares of natural area.

In all, the updated plan is to cost $357 million over the next decade. , when factoring in planning, design and development costs of all the facilities, infrastructure and parks.

Of the total, the city says $51 million will be “self-funded” through Neighbourhood Concept Plans and amenity contributions. The remaining $306 million will come from general capital funded thorough the city’s annual Capital Financial Plan. A total of $208 million is earmarked in the city’s 2018 five-year capital plan already, and the leftover $98 million will be considered in future budgets.

“It is expected that continued growth and annual property tax rate increases, supplemented by an additional tax increase of 0.75% in 2020, will generate sufficient funding to implement the plan from an operating perspective,” the strategy notes. “External borrowing may be required.”

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