In her second State of the City address, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner highlighted innovation, environment, agriculture and technology coming to this city.
Hepner addressed a packed room at the Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel on Thursday, and referring to a printed speech handed out to members of the audience, outlined some of the achievements in the last year.
Surrey, she noted, has boomed in the last 25 years, doubling in population.
“That growth comes with big city issues,” she told the crowd. “But also big city opportunities.”
She noted the city is focusing on promoting technology and innovation, noting for the second year in a row, Surrey has been named one of the top seven finalists by the Intelligent Communities Forum based in New York.
She pointed to the biofuel facility in north Port Kells as an example of how that innovation will aid the environment. The facility will take the gas from organic waste and fuel garbage trucks with it. The remainder of the gas will be sold back to FortisBC.
“Perhaps even more impressive, we’ll be one of the first cities to reach true carbon neutrality through innovation, rather than simply purchasing offsets, which cities typically do today,” she said.
In addition, the city is partnering with SFU, Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Newton’s Forsight Accelerator Centre to build a centre for excellence in clean technology in Cloverdale.
The city is making great headway through innovation in agriculture as well, Hepner said, trying out a new biopod – a self-contained ecosystem – to bolster and grow food in new places.
Surrey is also aiming to become Hollywood North with the help of Skydance Studio, which will be locating at the old Pacific Press building on 88 Avenue near Scott Road.
Skydance produced Mission Impossible and Star Trek movies as well as the Emmy-nominated Grace and Frankie series.
“Now they’re here in Surrey,” Hepner said, noting the company will provide 400 jobs and will be working on a Netflix feature about a city of the future called Altered Carbon.
“What better place to tell a story about a city of the future than right here in Surrey,” she said.
Hepner touched on the crime issue in Surrey and said statistics are trending down. However she acknowledged one gangster with a gun can shatter the public image of public safety.
She also highlighted Light Rail Transit and said she hopes to have the city in “construction mode” for it by 2018.
She said what makes the city really work is the human capital within it.
Borrowing from Shakespeare, she asked, “What is a city, but the people?”