Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum is set to deliver the keynote address at the third annual 2019 State of Newton.
Organizers say the event is “an opportunity for the business community to engage in a dialogue that showcases the upcoming investment opportunities for Newton.”
It will also highlight the forthcoming “Newton Accord,” a document made in concert with various community groups that lays out “proposals and policy directions for the upcoming year.”
State of Newton is set to run from 8:30 to 10 a.m. on Sept. 26 on the fourth floor of an office building at 7327 137th St. It’s hosted by the Newton Business Improvement Association and Surrey Board of Trade.
“Newton is one of the largest communities in Surrey, and as a result I believe a priority should be on that,” said Philip Aguirre, executive director of the Newton BIA. “and that the mayor should see Newton as a priority as well.”
There’s been some angst in the community of Newton after the cancellation of light rail transit that would have run to that area of the city, in favour of a SkyTrain line up Fraser Highway, ultimately destined for Langley.
The switch in technology, and route change, was a promise of Mayor Doug McCallum along the campaign trail last fall.
“Newton has been forgone in the sense we were on the cusp of redevelopment and revitalization and without the investment of rapid transit, those dollars are now being reallocated to other areas,” said Aguirre. “Newton has been delayed again.”
Aguirre said when SkyTrain came to Surrey in 1994, Newton was promised an extension at that time.
“It’s been delayed ever since. This is just one more delay. It’s a travesty that it happens in Newton over and over and over again,” he said. “Newton has lost out time after time to politics.”
Aguirre said he believes Newton has great potential.
“My hope is that it is going to be prioritized,” he said. “Do I have hope there’s room in the budget this year in 2019 for large investment in Newton? I’m not hopeful. There’s a lot of money being spent for SkyTrain to Langley and a lot being spent on the new police force. The mayor is on record that taxation is not going to increase, only to inflation.
“So I’m not optimistic there’s a light at the end of the tunnel in the short-term in Newton,” he added. “That doesn’t mean Newton BIA going to stop working everyday to improve our community.”
Another focus of the BIA is growing its events, and also advocating for the city to host a large event in the area. He noted the city plays host to six major events annually, and not one is held in Newton.
“So we’d love the creation of a park/plaza where we can hold larger, major events,” he said. “We’ll also be unveiling a new events plan for 2020 that we’re very excited about. I think we’ve graduated from our first five years, to Newton 2.0. I think our event plan for 2020 is going to be bigger and better.”
And, Aguirre said the BIA is now advocating for “fixed rail rapid transit” in the wake of TransLink rebranding it’s B-Line buses to “rapid buses.”
“The data supports the community of Newton with its size and population, requires a higher grade of rapid transit than rapid bus. We will continue to advocate for improvements to transportation but specifically fixed rail rapid transit,” he said.
Meantime, MLA Harry Bains will also be speaking at the event, providing an update from his office.
Last year, then-mayor Linda Hepner spoke at the event ahead of the Oc. 20 civic election, highlighting plans for the light rail system that was fully funded at the time.
Visit eventbrite.ca and search “State of Newton” to register.