Surrey mayor plans 12,000-seat stadium, two new entertainment districts

Surrey mayor plans 12,000-seat stadium, two new entertainment districts

An economic and feasibility study launching Friday will draft a plan to finance the venue.

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In her first official address since being elected in 2022, Surrey Mayor Brenda Locke announced an economic strategy to make B.C.’s largest city a destination for live events with two new entertainment districts planned — one in the city centre, the other in Cloverdale.

“To prepare Surrey for a population of a million people, our council will be required to take decisive and bold action,” Locke told the audience at a sold-out luncheon at Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel.

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“This means we will invest in big-city amenities, like major sporting and events facilities, entertainment and music venues.”

As part of Locke’s economic plan, she said city council is looking to add a 12,000-seat stadium or arena in Surrey, with an economic and feasibility study launching Friday to consider a plan to finance the venue.

“There are still too many residents leaving the city for their entertainment,” Locke said.

While city councillor Linda Annis, of the opposition Surrey First party, agreed that local residents are leaving Surrey and travelling to Vancouver to attend live events, she thinks that the number of seats proposed for a new stadium or arena is too few.

“Something like 20,000 seats” Annis said would allow Surrey to host crowds for games such as FIFA in the prospective arena. “We need to go bigger in order to attract high-level sports.”

Three locations are now being considered for the venue — in the city centre near the Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre, on city-owned land in Newton, and at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds.

Locke said Surrey has already received interest from semi-professional sports teams who would consider using the arena.

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“We’re going to be doing a full study before we do any real talking about that to them.”

When asked about what such as building might cost taxpayers, the mayor said because of business partnerships, the city is aiming for the build to be a “pain-free project. … We are looking to do this with the cooperation of the business community.”

Aside from entertainment, Locke said the city’s “aspirational” economic goal is to create one job for every working Surrey resident, beginning with the city council’s plan to “open up an additional 350 acres of new employment land” in Campbell Heights.

Surrey currently owns industrial land in the neighbourhood, which continues to sit unused.

Scott Wheatley, executive-director of the Cloverdale District Chamber of Commerce, was excited to hear the news about Campbell Heights.

“There’s finally a demand for businesses that want to use that land,” he said, estimating that within a few years, the number of workers in the industrial district will rise from a current 20,000 to approximately 35,000.

Locke noted that Richmond companies including Dr. Ma’s Laboratories and LED Smart are now planning to relocate their manufacturing facilities to Campbell Heights.

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But Wheatley says that doesn’t come without its challenges.

“The city is currently playing catch-up. There isn’t transit service to run 24-hour shifts of workers because the bus doesn’t run long enough hours.”

Additionally, Wheatley said there are still some facilities in Campbell Heights that are waiting for power connections.

Locke said Surrey has already received interest from semi-professional sports teams that would consider using the prospective arena. Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

The cost of the upgrades is still to be nailed down as part of Surrey’s 2024 budget, which Locke has refrained from discussing in the past few months because she is embroiled in a B.C. Supreme Court battle against the province, which ordered the city to stick with the new Surrey Police Service as replacement for the RCMP.

When asked on Thursday about her ongoing dispute with the province over policing, Locke declined to comment on specifics, but said: “We go before the courts in spring.”

The city is also planning to hire 25 more firefighters, 25 more police officers, and 10 additional bylaw officers annually, create 370 new childcare spaces in the city by 2025 with $18 million in funding, five new city-owned truck parking sites, and dedicate $105 million to infrastructure improvements such as widening 72 and 80 avenues and 132 Street.

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Locke also shared news of the expected opening this year of a UBC campus for post-secondary midwifery, physical therapy and occupational therapy studies and a Simon Fraser University medical school in 2026.

“I am excited that the first new medical school in Western Canada in over 50 years will be in Surrey,” the mayor said.

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