Part I: Cloverdale’s top local stories in 2013

Welcome to the first half of our annual look back at the big and small stories that made headlines in 2013.

Part I: Cloverdale's top local stories in 2013


Casino support, to no avail

Cloverdale’s business leaders reaffirm their support for a controversial proposal to build a casino in nearby South Surrey, despite a fair amount of public opposition.

Hundreds packed Surrey City Hall to speak to Gateway’s proposal for 168 Street and 10 Avenue, a process that took two nights and 11 hours.

Representatives from the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce and Cloverdale BIA spoke in favour of the proposal, after initially voicing concerns that it would draw business away from Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino.

Their stance changed after meeting with B.C. Lottery Corp. and provincial government officials.

When Surrey council splits 4-4 on whether to proceed, Mayor Dianne Watts casts the swing vote, killing the proposal.

Icon signs off

Dann’s Electronics closes after 91 years in operation. At 88, Allan Dann says it’s time to retire. He’s sold the building and closes the long-running service and sales operations established in 1921 by his father, Ernest.

The heritage building at 5657 176 Street had been the location for the family business since 1932. Allan grew up in the apartment upstairs.

Dann’s sold and repaired bicycles, but evolved into wiring homes too, along with selling home appliances and electronics, from stereos to flat-screen TVs.

Right to the end Dann’s Electronics has been an essential component of Cloverdale life, providing families with their first home appliances and TVs, along with an unmatched level of customer service, earning a special place in people’s hearts.


City ponies up for schools

The Surrey School District says it will put up $5 million of its own money to get the ball rolling on two new schools and two school expansions in hopes the B.C. government will pay it back.

“We owe it to our students and our parents to move quickly, said trustee Laurae McNally.

Residents in fast-growing neighbourhoods have been “incredibly frustrated” by school overcrowding, McNally said, adding it’s not longer an option to wait for the provincial government to dole out capital budgets.

The money will be used to hire architects to start the design process for new secondary schools in Clayton and Grandview Heights, and additions for elementary schools in Cloverdale and Grandview.



A plan for Clayton

Surrey City Council approves funding for a range of events, programs and services aimed at children and youth in Clayton Heights and North Cloverdale. Council also asks staff to include the planning and design of a new recreation centre for Clayton Heights as part of the Build Surrey program in the 2014-2018 five year financial plan.

Coun. Barinder Rasode said a rec centre makes sense for an area experiencing such unprecedented residential growth, adding she also asked staff to look at the feasibility of including a library in the plan.

A group of community-minded people approached Rasode last fall, citing a desperate need for activities for local youth.


A new high school

Surrey will soon be home to another high school, taking pressure off overcrowded Clayton Heights Secondary.

The provincial government announces it will commit $10.5 million towards a $16.7 million school in north Clayton. The Surrey School District is paying for the remainder.

The province has secured an 18-acre property at 73 Avenue and 184 Street for the school, expected to have a capacity of up to 1,200 students.

Speaking at the funding announcement at the proposed site, Surrey School Board chair Shawn Wilson said it’s great news that means a great deal to the residents of Surrey.



Anti-theft initiative launched

A new anti-crime initiative is launched in downtown Cloverdale, where the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association, Chamber of Commerce and the RCMP are asking merchants to report suspicious activity as part of a business alert program being set up.

The Heads Up! initiative will be initially restricted to the 200-plus members of the Cloverdale BIA, but it’s hoped to expand.

The alert is in conjunction with Surrey RCMP’s District 4 office in Cloverdale.

Tips are sent to Staff Sgt. Martin Blais, district commander, and shared with local businesses, giving them a “heads up” to be on the lookout.

The initiative is a response to long-standing concerns from local merchants who have grown frustrated with opportunistic criminal activity, including fraudulent transactions, shoplifting and costly break-ins.

“These offenders are well known by merchants,” BIA executive director Paul Orazietti said.

“They travel around. They use crime to support really bad habits, be it drugs and things like that.”

He hopes the program will provide RCMP with more concrete data to help create a fuller picture to combat crime.


Warrior spirit

Cloverdale-raised retired Cpl. John Lowe announces he’s in training for a cycle across the battlefields of Western Europe to help raise awareness of the plight of soldiers coping with Operational Stress Injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Distorder.

The Afghanistan veteran, 26, is the only rider from B.C. on the upcoming Big Battlefield Bike Ride in June. He’ll join 300 British, American and European combat veterans May 27 to June 2, riding from Paris to London, logging up to 130 kms in a single day.

Lowe realized he needed to reach out for help coping with Operational Stress Injuries, making contact with the non-profit group Wounded Warriors, which helps Canadian forces members and reservists who have been injured our wounded in service, with a focus on mental health.

“I don’t think any solider can come back and say they do not feel changed,” he said, adding not all injuries are physical, and can be just as devastating if left untreated.


Model citizen

Cloverdale champion Bill Reid is named Surrey’s Good Citizen of the Year, in recognition of five decades of public service.

Reid, 78, a former B.C. cabinet minister and MLA, is too ill to receive the honour in person. Deservedly well known for his impressive list of contacts in government, business and the community, Reid is an active force on behalf of the Cloverdale Chamber of Commerce.

“Bill Reid has been tirelessly serving our community for over five decades,” said mayor Dianne Watts. “He has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to our city and has spent most of his life working to enhance our business environment.”

The Good Citizen award recipient is chosen by council and is presented to a Surrey resident who has given outstanding services for the betterment of the community.


Teaching kudos

A popular physics teacher at Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary receives a prestigious award from the University of British Columbia’s engineering department.

Susan Hunter-Jivung is the recipient of the 2013 McEwen Family Teacher Recognition Award. The distinction celebrates teachers who go above and beyond school curriculum to make sure their students are successful personally, as well as academically.

When not teaching class, Hunter-Jivung leads everything from the school’s science and environment club to the Me to We Club and the Duke of Edinburgh Club.

“Ms. Hunter links leadership, science, and humanitarian endeavors along with environmental stewardship,” wrote Stephanie Blain, one of five former students supporting the nomination.


Feeling the squeeze

Cramped school woes in North Cloverdale prompt a meeting between parents, residents, City of Surrey and Surrey school district officials.

The meeting was organized by the Adams Road Parent Advisory Council, with the help of city councillor Barinder Rasode, who was one of the speakers at the meeting.

“The speed of development in our area is outpacing the speed of community resources, including community centres, pools, libraries and parks,” said Jennifer Cocks, co-president of the school’s Parent Advisory Council.

Residents and parents are also concerned about the rapid pace of development in the neighbourhood.

“There are 130 new homes going in,” she said. “Why are we pushing ahead with development when there’s physically no room for them at school?”

Adams Road’s school population has doubled to 430 students since it opened in 2011 and has 10 portables.


Falcon lands at Anthem

B.C.’s former finance minister and long-time Cloverdale MLA Kevin Falcon is leaving politics for real estate.

Falcon ended months of speculation when it was announced he’s going to work for Anthem Capital Corp., becoming executive vice-president May 16, two days after the provincial election.

He represented Surrey-Cloverdale for 12 years, and served in a variety of high-profile cabinet positions. In 2011, he ran for the leadership of the B.C. Liberal Party after Gordon Campbell resigned, losing to premier Christy Clark.

Anthem Capital Corp is a member of the Anthem Group of Properties, the Vancouver-based real estate developer behind such Surrey projects as Brick Yard Station, a shopping plaza in Cloverdale.


She’s tops

Stephanie Cadieux tops the polls in Surrey-Cloverdale on election night. She claims her new seat by a wide margin as part of a B.C. Liberal tidal wave that upended any predictions of an NDP majority.

On May 14, the former MLA for Surrey-Panorama claims 16,392 votes, or 60 per cent of the popular vote, putting her well ahead of challengers Harry Kooner of the NDP, with 8,120 votes (or 29 per cent), Conservative Howard Wu with 1,922 votes (7.04 per cent), and not affiliated candidate Matt Begley, in the rear with 862 votes (3.16 per cent).

Former Langley City major Peter Fassbender won Surrey-Fleetwood for the Liberals, while Liberal incumbent Mary Polak beat out B.C. Conservative Party leader Jim Cummins in the riding of Langley.


So long, Mr. Surrey

Warm tributes pour in for Bill Reid, who has passed away at the age of 78. The former MLA, tourism minister, and community leader is remembered as a leader, mentor, friend and irrepressible champion for Surrey, and Cloverdale.

Premier Christy Clark recalls his unparalleled love for his province and “incredible graciousness to everyone he met.”

In June, more than 500 people, including a veritable who’s who of B.C. cabinet ministers, Surrey politicians, and an honour guard of pipers, turn out to the Cloverdale Rec Centre for a celebration of life that is as colourful as the man himself.


Chef claims title for Cloverdale

Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary grad and Top Chef Canada contestant Matthew Stowe wins season three of the top-rated reality TV show, putting Cloverdale on the culinary map.

Watching the exciting final episode alongside Stowe and his family at a packed viewing party at Cactus Club Cafe was his former high school culinary arts instructor, Guy Ethier. “It’s because I took that course that I’m here today,” Stowe told Black Press. “I can’t thank him enough.”


All aboard the Interurban again

After more than half a century and thousands of hours of volunteer effort, the dream to return a restored Interurban to the original line through Surrey comes true in Cloverdale.

On June 23 the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society launches weekend passenger runs out of Cloverdale Station.

Passengers crowd onto Car 1225, originally built in 1909, for the round trip to Sullivan Station.

The entire operation is run by volunteers.

– Compiled by Jennifer Lang

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