Newton BIA director Philip Aguirre. (Photo: Amy Reid)

Surrey’s huge hockey arena should go in Newton, advocate says

Philip Aguirre says proposed arena meshes with BIA’s idea of Newton as a cultural hub

SURREY — On Wednesday, the Now-Leader broke the news that a group of investors is looking at bringing a 7,000 to 10,000 seat arena to Surrey.

Investor Inde Sumal is leading a group that has entered preliminary discussions with the city about building a huge hockey arena in Surrey. Sumal said the Bridgeview area near Scott Road SkyTrain station is the primary area he’s keeping his eye on.

SEE ALSO: Surrey considering ‘7,000’ to ‘10,000’ seat hockey arena

However, a Newton community advocate believes putting the arena in Bridgeview would be a mistake.

Philip Aguirre, executive director of the Newton Business Improvement Association (BIA), believes that bringing the proposed arena to Newton would mesh with the BIA’s vision for the area.

“We’re talking about this big fancy project that we’re trying to bring to Newton for the arrival of the LRT,” Aguirre said. “What better way to incorporate two projects into one?”

Aguirre mentions that Cloverdale is often cited as a place for major expansion, despite the fact that the LRT is supposed to run through Newton.

“Once in a while, we need to prioritize Newton for infrastructure spending,” Aguirre said. “This is line with what the community has wanted.”

“The people that we deal with on a daily basis have been talking about a project like this in Newton for several years. There is widespread acceptance for Newton becoming a cultural hub.”

Aguirre notes that an arena in Bridgeview means that mass parking would have to be constructed.

“When you build a community for cars, you get cars,” he said. “Building in Bridgeview requires parking. You aren’t building a community, you’re building parking.”

SEE ALSO: Surrey an ‘investment destination’

He notes that the same problem exists around the other large arenas in Langley and Abbotsford.

“You can’t just build infrastructure by itself,” he said. Abbotsford Centre and Langley Events Centre were built for parking lots where people have to drive to. When you build an entertainment district, it creates a cultural hub with many different places for people to visit.”

“If you’re building infrastructure in Surrey, why not build a cultural town hub that people can rally around?”

Aguirre added that transforming Newton into a cultural hub is an idea that’s been pushed for years.

“If you combine LRT and an arena with restaurants, coffee shops, pedestrian zones, and events, now you actually have an area where the city wants to go to where the city wants to spend their disposable income,” Aguirre said.

“This is how you brand Newton as a place where people want to live.”

Aguirre had an idea about where a potential arena could fit in Newton.

“The old Newton arena itself is dated. The city and TransLink already own a large portion of land south of the community centre. You can incorporate the new arena into the community centre,” he said.

“This is one more key for the revitalization of the area,” said Aguirre.

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