Today’s political leaders would do well to take lessons from the ambition and responsible foresight of the late Bill Bennett.
With only a little political effort, the positive derivative benefits to Greater Vancouver, and to B.C. and Canada generally, resulting from the province hosting Expo ’86 and the building of SkyTrain rapid transit lines could be replicated in Surrey.
The industrial park wasteland where Surrey borders the Fraser River and New Westminster would be ideal as a world exposition site.
Afterwards, this area could be re-developed with mixed-use highrises and parkland, emulating Vancouver’s downtown business district and Coal Harbour, thereby reducing the region’s housing shortage and attracting corporate head office clients, along with hi-technology design, research and development firms.
Bennett would never have accepted the cheap-as-possible, at-roadway-level rapid transit system that is currently proposed for Surrey – effectively buses travelling on rails run along already busy roadways. Bennett would demand a rapid transit system for Surrey that would be perceived internationally as a world beater – and certainly no worse than the 30-year-old, but still excellent, above-the-roadway Skytrain.
The first step would be for the B.C. government to work with the new federal government to reinstate Canada as a member of the Bureau of International Expositions – the body that awards international expos to countries – by paying the $25,000 annual fee the previous Conservative government reneged on, starting in 2012. Following this, on behalf of the City of Surrey, B.C. should submit a bid for a future exposition.
Ridiculous? Impossible? Insurmountable? Maybe that’s what some would have thought in the 1980s.
Bill Bennett clearly didn’t, and we are all beneficiaries as a result.
Roderick V. Louis, White Rock