While a contractor has been chosen, and the previous city council had given its approval to build a road through Cloverdale Fairgrounds, mayor-elect Doug McCallum says he’s going to halt the project.
“We’re going to stop that road,” McCallum told the Now-Leader. “That divides the fairgrounds, and right now we don’t want to have anything that’s going to divide the fairgrounds. That’s just a small example of things we’re going to do as soon as we get sworn in next Monday.”
McCallum said he’s against the road because he wants the Cloverdale Fairgrounds to become an arts and culture hub, envisioning a “big cultural centre” built there, which he hopes will become a “real jewel to the City of Surrey and a real international attraction.” He expects the facility, if built, would likely be the result of a partnership but says he would do “extensive consultation” to see what the community and the cultural groups want to see there.
The outgoing Surrey First city council approved nearly $2.2 million in funding for the road to be constructed through the Cloverdale Fairgrounds at a council meeting on July 23.
City council gave the $2,176,000 project to B&B Contracting Ltd., which will build a “177B Street” through the fairgrounds, from 62nd to 64th Avenue.
General Manager of the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association Mike MacSorley said he’d “love him to stop the building of the road” and it was “as dumb an idea as the previous council had.”
But, MacSorely fears the project is too far along for McCallum to put a stop to it.
“It’s done — they’ve ripped it up,” said MacSorely. “It’s going to make the rodeo difficult to mount, and a road through the fairgrounds isn’t smart. There’s no way to stop people from driving through the fairgrounds and using it to bypass.”
MacSorely said he’d also expressed to the city his concerns about traffic management.
“They can’t put traffic calming measures in. You can’t have horse trailers going over speed bumps.”
He said the road, if completed, will also cut the rodeo’s space for food trucks by a third.
“And the Agriplex, the largest indoor facility in Cloverdale, they took away half the parking,” said MacSorely. “I hope something happens, because without the rodeo, Cloverdale is Newton. No matter what, it’s the identity for this area, and the identity for Surrey, and Surrey needs good things to happen.
“If Doug could stop it, I’d love that.”
According to a staff report when council approved the contract, the road work was scheduled to start in September 2018 and be completed by March 2019.
A Black Press reporter at the construction site on Oct. 31 saw construction crews working on sewer lines for the Cloverdale Sport + Ice Complex, being built on the Cloverdale Fairgrounds. This roadwork on 62nd Avenue will be part of the planned road running through the fairgrounds connecting to 64th Avenue.
McCallum told the Now-Leader that he takes no issue with the ice complex under construction, saying that it would fit into his cultural vision for the fairgrounds.
Meantime, the City of Surrey says the project is on track for completion in the new year.
“The local road is intended to provide access to the new Cloverdale Sport & Ice Complex facility, which will be located within the Cloverdale Fairgrounds, south of 64th Avenue and just east of 177B Street,” the city said in an emailed statement. “The road would also improve traffic and pedestrian circulation in and out of the Fairgrounds and increase connectivity to the adjacent Cloverdale Recreation Centre, Curling Club and Youth Skate Park. To date, the area for the new road has been cleared and excavated and, storm, sanitary and watermain utility works have been significantly advanced. Subgrade gravel materials for the new road are also on site.”
As for the project’s future?
“City engineers will take direction from council on desired next steps,” reads the statement.
-With files from Samantha Anderson