From left: Business in Vancouver publisher/editor-in-chief; Downtown Surrey BIA CEO Elizabeth Model; and Surrey-Guildford MLA Garry Begg during a panel discussion about Surrey’s downtown core on July 23. (Submitted photo: LBMG)

Cultural diversity, transportation key takeaways from Surrey business panel

Downtown Surrey BIA, Business in Vancouver host discussion for long-term economic development

On July 23, Business in Vancouver, in partnership with the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association (DSBIA), hosted a panel discussion with business community members for the city’s long-term economic development plans, according to a media release about the event.

The panel, comprised of Bob Rennie, Executive Director of Rennie; Garry Begg, MLA for Surrey-Guildford; as well as DSBIA CEO Elizabeth Model, “stressed the need for Surrey to continue building upon the strong economic foundation that has been established before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Of the topics discussed was a need for a “diverse cultural hub similar to Vancouver’s Queen Elizabeth Theatre that could celebrate the regions Indo-Canadian and Filipino communities, as well as additional long-term incentives to attract developers.”

Also discussed was the need for sustainable public transportation, with panelists highlighting that many young people are starting to move away from owning a vehicle to rely on transit or car-sharing services.

“The key to economic development is good transportation, be it light-rail, SkyTrain, bus, cycling lanes – it’s a combination of all of the above,” said Model.

“The question that’s first and foremost for me is how is transit and the [TransLink] Mayor’s Council going to get people back to actually using transit instead of their cars. That would be the first step forward.”

Model added that between January and June, “we’re sitting at $800 million in building permits for the City of Surrey.”

“From my standpoint in developing the downtown core, we have everything in place to move ourselves forward. We also have the population and the youth – a third of our population is under the age of 19 and we’re going to be 600,000 people next year.”

The City of Surrey is poised to emerge this generation as British Columbia’s most populous centre, building upon an already diverse and vibrant economic powerhouse. Due to the current challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has now become more crucial than ever for Surrey business leaders to develop new strategies and ensure this positive momentum continues into the future.

READ ALSO: New survey aims to create a ‘vibrant downtown that all of Surrey can be proud of’, Sept. 14, 2019

READ ALSO: Downtown Surrey BIA rolls out 2020 Our Vision Surrey results, Jan. 30, 2020

In September of 2019, the DSBIA released a survey asking Surrey residents for input on their vision of a downtown core.

The results were released in January, which saw 4,677 in-person engagements, 168,000 online engagements including 988 online and 318 paper survey responses.

To watch the panel discussion, visit: biv.com/video/surrey-must-build-its-strengths-business-leaders.

– With files from Tom Zytaruk

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