Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner

UPDATE: Businesses funded $50K of Surrey mayor’s trip to real estate event in France

City of Surrey says the visit has already led to an ‘investor inquiry’

Earlier this month, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner spoke at a real estate conference in France, and new details have surfaced about how the trip was funded.

In an email to the Now-Leader, Donna Jones, Surrey’s general manager of investment and government relations, said the city received $50,000 in sponsorship from five businesses that helped fund Hepner’s attendance at Les Marche International des Professionnels de l’immobilier (MIPIM) 2018, which ran from March 13 to 16. The city, meanwhile, funded the remainder of the bill to the tune of $11,000. In all, the bill amounted to approximately $58,000, according to a corporate report, which included $19,000 for registration and booth rental, $12,000 furnishings for booth and $27,000 in flights, hotels and per diems.

“The City of Surrey provided sponsorship opportunities as part of its Invest Surrey & Partners programming,” Jones wrote. “Sponsors that contributed to the City of Surrey MIPIM program and secured logo recognition at the November 2017 Inaugural Invest Surrey Launchpad Event are as follows: Fraser Surrey Docks, Blackwood Partners, Century Group, Surrey City Development Corporation (and) Concord Pacific.”

Three city staff members accompanied the mayor to France, including Jones, as well as Economic Development Manager Stephen Wu and Economic Investment Strategist Khushboo Wanchoo. The costs associated with the staff members attending are included in the total bill, said Jones.

MIPIM is said to typically attract 24,000 investors from 100 countries and is described as “the world’s leading property market event.” Hepner has called it “one of the largest and most prestigious real estate conferences in the world.”

See also: Surrey mayor to speak at ‘prestigious’ real estate conference in France Feb. 7, 2018

Hepner was invited to speak on a panel at the 2018 conference, called ‘City as a Service, the New Urban Reality.’ As such, MIPIM covered Hepner’s conference registration fee and three nights accommodation, noted Jones. “Mayor Hepner also joined mayors from around the globe at a Mayors and Political Leaders’ Think Tank focused on ‘People-centric Cities,’” Jones added. “Participants included the mayors of Stockholm, Paris, Helsinki and Moscow.”

The cities of Hamilton, Toronto, Montreal, Thunder Bay and Surrey, along with private partners, collectively promoted 40 capital investment projects, according to Jones. The city reports that Hepner’s trip has already proven fruitful. “As a result of our participation at MIPIM, the City has already received an investor inquiry related to establishing data centres to support the digital economy along North America’s west coast,” Jones wrote.

At a council meeting earlier this year, Hepner noted the event’s international stage has benefited and attracted investment to other Canadian cities, such as Toronto and its Waterfront project, as well as Montreal and its Downtown Arts and Entertainment District. “I think it bodes well for us,” said Hepner during a February council meeting, adding it’s hoped the visit will increase the city’s profile as a “globally-relevant, leading-edge city.”

MIPIM is the conference whereBing Thom Architects’ Surrey Central City project won a Special Jury Award in 2014 as the world’s best overall new development for architecture and building innovation.

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