A voice for Cloverdale

Ken Krasnikoff encourages residents to join the Cloverdale Community Association. - Jennifer Lang photo
Ken Krasnikoff encourages residents to join the Cloverdale Community Association.
— image credit: Jennifer Lang photo

Are you wondering why Cloverdale doesn’t have a new swimming pool or who you should talk to about a proposed development or traffic concerns in your neighbourhood?

You may want to give Ken Krasnikoff a call. He’s a member of the long-running Cloverdale Community Association, a society that formed in 1978 to deal with issues that affect the well-being and development of the community.

The association acts as a collective voice to Surrey City Hall on all sorts of matters, from concerns about intersections and traffic volumes to parking and noise complaints, says Krasnikoff, who’s been a member for 25 years.

“We’ve dealt with proposed developments, parks, even basic things like sidewalks for children walking to school,” he says. “Of course, 20 years ago, there were maybe half the amount of sidewalks as there are right now.

In that time, he’s seen the Cloverdale Community Association’s membership rise and fall. “It seemed that whenever there was an issue that was important to the community, people came out in droves. But as soon as they got an answer to that issue, they went back.”

Considering the rapid residential growth taking place in Surrey, particularly in Clayton, Krasnikoff believes there’s never been a better time for Cloverdale residents to make their voices heard.

“We have a strong Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce. Now we need a strong Cloverdale Community Association.”

He got involved in 1986 – the year of Expo. Surrey city hall was looking for representatives from each of the five town centres, Cloverdale, Newton, Fleetwood, Whalley, and South Surrey.

Ken, who has a background in planning, had just moved to Cloverdale. “I thought, ‘This is an opportunity to get to know the city.’”

Was it ever. He and the other community reps were driven around Surrey on bus tours, and got to meet the city council members of the day – many of whom, including Judy Higginbotham, remain actively involved in the community.

For Krasnikoff, getting to know his neighbours has been one of the best parts of being involved.

When the association was in full swing, members met about once a month.

Members used to split up meeting duties, meaning one member was part of the Cloverdale homelessness committee, for example, while another took part in the West Clayton Neighbourhood Concept planning process, reporting back to the association, and ensuring residents had a voice in guiding future development and growth.

One of the first projects Krasnikoff remembers getting involved with was organizing a petition asking city hall to build a bigger swimming pool in Cloverdale. The association gathered 5,000 signatures, but Cloverdale lost out to Fleetwood, where the need was deemed greater.

Since then, “there’s been quite a bit of growth in Cloverdale and Clayton,” he says.  The latest Census figures show overall, Surrey’s population of 468,251 has grown by 18.6 per cent, up 73,000 residents since 2006.

Cloverdale’s population is just over 50,000, but Clayton – the area north of Fraser Highway – is gaining fast. East Clayton is now home to 14,034 people, more than three times the 2006 count of 4,132.

Krasnikoff says Cloverdale needs a strong community association in place to compete with more active community associations in other parts of Surrey that are lobbying for similar facilities and services in their area.

“Traffic and safety, noise, parks, development proposals, the swimming pool, these are probably going to be ongoing issues as we continue to grow, and grow and grow,” he says.

He firmly believes the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and by remaining silent and uninvolved, Cloverdalians risk missing out when it comes to the City of Surrey’s priorities.

“If we are not out there and bringing those issues before council, then they’ll assume that ‘Everything’s quiet in Cloverdale and they don’t need anything’, I guess.”

While there have been a number of big and small victories for the Cloverdale Community Association over the years, Krasnikoff notes the pool 5,000 residents were clamouring for in the 1980s still hasn’t materialized.

But for now, the priority is getting a strong Cloverdale Community Association back up and rolling.

“Some people don’t know where to turn, if they have a concern, if they come to us,” he continues. “We have resources so we can say, let’s put a letter together, or put an email to mayor and council and ask, ‘What are you guys going to do about it?’ I think if we’re more vocal, and we show them that there is a strong association here, it’s going to benefit Cloverdale.”

For more information on the Cloverdale Community Association, call 604-574-5700.

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