With 16 Avenue and North Bluff Road dividing Surrey and White Rock

Cities focus on Semiahmoo town centre

White Rock and Surrey mayors and planning staff are collaborating on a master plan for their shared town centre.

White Rock and Surrey mayors and planning staff are collaborating on a master plan for their shared town centre.

It’s about “leveraging the assets of both cities to make the best of the Peninsula and the best of the City of White Rock,” Mayor Catherine Ferguson explained in a recent report to council.

Talks got underway last month, and a committee will be formed to look at a plan “ensuring that where there are opportunities, that we take advantage of them,” Ferguson said this week.

The idea came up during a joint intergovernmental meeting, following discussion of White Rock’s ongoing efforts to map out a design for the city’s town centre, Ferguson said. She noted Surrey is also working on designs for its town centres, and said it makes sense to collaborate on a plan that will benefit both cities.

“As we’re both working on designs for the various areas, we felt that it was important that we were ensuring that we found synergies between the two design concepts,” Ferguson said.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts agreed.

“As we’re planning the Semiahmoo Town Centre, it seems only reasonable that we would have a joint effort in terms of a master plan,” she said. “Frankly, having a road in between the two (cities) doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Watts described having a joint plan for the area as “significant.”

“It just makes sense to really position it in such a way that we’re doing the very best that we can for the Semiahmoo (area),” she said, adding the clear vision will make both cities more attractive to investors.

Transportation, density, walkability and livability are among topics that will be discussed, Ferguson said. As part of the process, each city’s planning department will meet regularly  to update each other on what’s happening in their respective cities.

It is not about merging the cities, she said.

“It’s just about making sure that we’re communicating… that we’re working together. It’s about being good neighbours, and ultimately, working for the benefit of the people.”

Ferguson said she and Watts will next meet in July. While no timelines for completing the plan have been set, Watts said she would like to see it done this year. A lot of the preliminary work has been done, she noted.

“It’s a matter of bringing the two together and then extrapolating the best of all the plans.”

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