The idea of amalgamating South Surrey with White Rock – championed by some in the early 1990s – is getting support from a White Rock councillor.
Coun. Grant Meyer says amalgamating what has always been an emotionally unified Semiahmoo Peninsula community makes sense, but would have to be driven by South Surrey residents.
“If people from Ocean Park and Crescent Beach wanted to be part of White Rock, I wouldn’t be opposed to it. But it would have to come from them.”
Meyer noted the original plan for the secession of Ward 7 from Surrey in 1957 included not just White Rock, but also Ocean Park and Crescent Beach.
Acknowledging the conventional wisdom in recent years has been that it would make more sense to amalgamate White Rock back into Surrey, Meyer said the opposite is worthy of further study.
“I think it could be the way to go in the future,” he said. “People who live in South Surrey have always considered themselves part of White Rock. It would create a better tax base for White Rock, but geographically this area has always felt more like one community.”
Meyer also said there are many South Surrey residents who are not happy with rampant growth in the larger city, and might appreciate White Rock’s slower and steadier growth patterns.
“In Surrey there are whole little mini-cities springing up in the space of a year, like the area along 24 Avenue,” he said.
There’s also an appeal to being part of a smaller city, he said.
“I know there’s always a lot of people who like being in towns like Port Moody and White Rock – they feel that they’re counted more than in cities of 600,000 like Burnaby.”
Meyer said while he understands the desire of Surrey to revitalize the Whalley area by moving City Hall there, the de-centralization can also contribute to a feeling of disenfranchisement among South Surrey residents.
“I think I’d feel bad if I were living at 192 Street and 8 Avenue and had to go all that way to deal with the city,” he said.
“I think a more central location would have served all of its citizens better. In this case, annexing the Semiahmoo Peninsula section of Surrey into our vibrant community would provide a more central city hall for all Peninsula residents.”
Meyer said attending the Federation of Canadian Municipalities convention in Halifax in June made him aware of how many larger cities, like Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Winnipeg have merged into single Metro areas.
But before the day dawns when Metro Vancouver swallows all Lower Mainland communities, amalgamation South Surrey with White Rock would provide benefits for both, he said.
Meyer recognizes however that Surrey is not likely to relinquish South Surrey without a gargantuan battle.
“Surrey would definitely be against it,” he said. “It would probably have to come through the province. It would take all the people of the Surrey side of the Peninsula to get together and make it an issue.”