A confident Linda Hepner reports back in her second State of the City address. Photo: Ray Hudson

Innovation, Smart Technology and Environmental Advances Made

A confident Linda Hepner reports back in her second State of the City address. Photo: Ray Hudson
A confident Linda Hepner reports back in her second State of the City address. Photo: Ray Hudson

Linda Hepner, the Mayor of BC’s second largest city approaches the microphone to deliver her second State of the City report to over 450 business people in a sold out ballroom.

Her message was that Surrey was perfectly positioned and prepared to move into the future as a centre for technology and innovation.  No longer the bedroom community it once was she said the city was well served by SFU and KPU and Innovation Boulevard to support the city’s high tech aspirations.

Hepner said the city now has a skilled population, young and mature, diverse and multilingual.  “Our innovative companies are already competing successfully in the high tech world, and because of that innovation, the city is seeking to be recognized at home and abroad for ‘disruptive technology that builds global connections.”

Disruptive technology (not malicious code) is defined as a technology that: displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry, or is a ground-breaking product that creates a completely new industry.

She stated that Surrey’s potential for job and economic growth is tremendous, based on the success of such local companies as:
Safe Software, providing the technology to allow real-time awareness of local driving conditions. Already in use by the Iowa Department of Transportation.
Fincad which produces software for valuation and risk analytics is used by over a thousand organizations around the world.
Micromatter Technologies produces the world’s only supply of diamond-like carbon foils integral to particle accelerators around the globe
Evergreen Herbs with 120 greenhouses this family run farm supplies the cruise ship industry in the Atlantic and Caribean with herbs grown in Surrey. It was awarded the title of Global Farm of the Year
Endurance Wind Power, produces small-scale wind turbines and has offices in the UK, USA, Denmark, Italy and Canada. It was the recipient of Britain’s prestigious Green Business Award as Fast Track Company of the Year

Hepner said it was proof that manufacturing is far from dead and dying. Rather, it is flourishing in the technologically and intellectually fertile environment that is Surrey.

And concerning the environment, she reported that the Rethink Waste Program was successful to the point that it now enjoys one of the highest diversion rates in the world. Surrey is the first municipality to use a 100 percent compressed natural gas fleet of collection trucks, saving the city about $4.5 million annually.

Related to that, the city’s biofuel facility is now under construction and will become North America’s first fully integrated waste management system, set to open in the spring of 2017. It will have the capacity to process 100 percent of Surrey’s organic waste over the next 25 years. Gas produced will be used by the city with surplus gas sold to Fortis BC.

Mayor Hepner announced a number of new projects including public safety education, cleantech technology research, and film and TV production facilities:
– Creation of the KPU-Foresight Cleantech Global Innovation Zone will be housed on the Cloverdale KPU campus, and create a Centre of Excellence for clean technology research and advanced manufacturing
– A new film studio in Newton/Kennedy Heights, by California-based Skydance Media. The company will convert the former Pacific Press printing plant into five sound stages which will be able to accommodate up to 400 production staff.

Pac Press– Creation of a child-sized Children’s Safety Village where youngsters can learn about safety in a hands-on interactive environment
– Site selection has begun for helipads in North and South Surrey to accommodate a consortium of private helicopter companies to bring commercial helicopter service to Surrey

Other significant capital investments ($334 million) the mayor reported on include:
– New aquatic centres in Guildford and Grandview
– Expansion of the Surrey Museum
– Design and Construction of the Clayton multi-purpose facility
– New Cloverdale Ice Arena opening 2018
– Develop a second YMCA in Surrey
– Flood Control improvements in lowland areas.

Public Safety in Surrey: Mayor Hepner reported that the former city hall has received an uplift of $25 million from the province to enhance the justice facilities and create more courtrooms and integrated services to the Surrey Campus. This will address the root causes of crime and bring support services for cases involving mental health, youth and family matters, all in the same location.

“This is very much Surrey’s version of the downtown community court that’s been operating in Vancouver,” Hepner said.

The Mayor reinforced the need for a safe community.  She said property and violent crimes were down, but the public shootings associated with illegal drugs continues to be a problem, and because of the shootings, the city has provided the RCMP real time access to their extensive network of traffic cameras for evidentiary purposes.

“Unfortunately, as good as the latest statistics and trends might be,” said the Mayor, “we all know that a single shot fired by a gang member shatters our image of public safety and pushes any otherwise positive trends to the back pages of our newspapers.”

Ending on a positive note: Hepner said that the city is on the move and transportation is key to keeping that going. She said there was good news, and plenty of reason for optimism as both federal and provincial governments are on board in significant and creative ways that help make the financial numbers work.

“While we’ve been waiting for the final go-ahead, we haven’t been idle,” she declared. “Design, planning and costing have all been going on behind the scenes and that means we can hit the ground running. There’s no question that I’d like things to move along more quickly, but that said, I believe we’ll be in construction mode in 2018.