The headlines and pundits honed in on that dismal D+ letter grade for safety in Surrey, but the recent SurreyCares Vital Signs report produced some refreshingly optimistic data – particularly where Cloverdale is concerned.
Savvy small business owners would do well to take a closer look at the report, which measured the vitality of the community and quality of life in Surrey, measuring 11 performance indicators.
Cloverdale has the highest median after-tax household income in the city, at $73,376, ahead of South Surrey ($67,866), Fleetwood ($64,845) and Newton ($61,210) according to the report.
For small businesses, that means a strong home market – as long as those shoppers can be persuaded to spend in their hometown.
Surrey is one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada, with a projected population in 2014 of 509,610. But did you know Cloverdale’s growth rate is the fastest in the city, at 14.5 per cent over five years?
That puts the historic town centre’s projected population at 69,310 in 2014, larger than Fleetwood or Guildford, and gaining on South Surrey, representing 13.6 per cent of Surrey’s population.
Also potentially overlooked in the report is a list of top things to celebrate in Surrey, which included festivals and events – with the Cloverdale’s Halloween Costume Parade, Cloverdale Blueberry Festival, Cloverdale Rodeo, Surrey Canada Day and Santa Parade of Lights all earning positive mentions.
In other words, Cloverdale is more than pulling its weight when it comes to community celebrations, welcoming 100,000 visitors to Canada Day Celebrations (second only to Surrey’s annual Vaisakhi parade), and another 86,000 people to the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair during the May long weekend.
None of these revelations surprise Paul Orazietti of the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association, which represents more than 300 businesses and co-organizes many of those Cloverdale community events that help build the “Cloverdale” brand – events that create a positive association with the town centre.
“People don’t go to the mall to celebrate in the parking lot,” he says, pointing to the positives highlighted in the Vital Signs report.
“A bunch of our Cloverdale events have been listed,” he said. “These are all events that are not geared to make money. They’re community events.”
Surrey’s historic town centre has a lot going for it already, and Orazietti believes there’s so much more potential for the future.
Success lies in continuing to build Cloverdale as a tourist destination – and as a vital service centre and business district that exudes character.
One of the challenges is bridge commercial and residential districts across the highways and arterial roadways.
Even now, groups are fundraising towards a gateway project – a statue of the late Bill Reid, a former cabinet minister, alderman and Cloverdale business champion, that could be incorporated into a welcoming sign at the entrance to Cloverdale.
“It’s all still very much in the works,” Orazietti cautions.
The key to longevity is to diversify, says Orazietti, pointing to a trio of long-running businesses on 176 street: Malary’s Fashion Network, Michaud’s Salon and Spa, and the Vault Restaurant. Each has diversified its core business, gathering steam for the long haul.
It’s also worth noting Cloverdale respondents in the Vital Signs report also boasted the greatest satisfaction with life in Surrey, just behind Guildford residents.
“The town centre of Cloverdale has some really interesting character, and people who have a beautiful vision of it,” Orazietti says. “They will continue to invest and continue to make it a beautiful community.”
See also: “Main Street Revival.”