Surrey offers its citizens an average quality of life to residents, according to the first Vital Signs report on the city.
The report, released Tuesday morning at the Surrey Arts Centre, is a joint effort between SurreyCares and the Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) and is a combination of research and a public opinion poll.
It studies 11 performance indicators established by Community Foundations of Canada, including safety, standard of living, transportation, the environment, the economy and housing.
Surrey earned a C grade in seven categories and a D+ in the other four. According to the report, C is an average performance which suggests additional effort must be made, while D is a below-average performance that needs additional work.
Overall, 571 respondents gave their city a C – rating Surrey’s quality of life as satisfactory but needing improvement.
“We didn’t know what to expect. This is the first time doing this with Surrey Cares,” said Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Huberman. “It’s not a bad thing; it’s an average performance.“
The city’s growing population, which is forecast to overtake Vancouver’s in the next two decades, indicates Surrey is a desired destination. But the growth also presents huge challenges in keeping pace with a population that already exceeds half-a-million people.
“There are (thousands of) people moving here each a month,” said Huberman. “So we’re playing catch-up in several areas. We don’t have the necessary infrastructure in place, or the transportation or the education (schools).
“It (Vital Signs) is an opportunity for us. We can say to all levels of government, particularly federal and provincial, that Surrey can’t be ignored.“
The report listed Surrey’s parks, festivals and events, locally grown food, natural environment and its diverse cultures as its bright spots.
Leading the list of things to improve is Surrey’s crime rate.
“Every gender, every neighboruhood, every income group, every ethnicity, and nearly ever age group selected crime as the top concern in Surrey,” said the report, citing homelessness, mental illness and addiction as suspected sources of criminal activity.
While police and crime prevention organizations are doing their jobs, more police and action on the line between mental health and crime are needed, the report said.
Housing also needs improvement, according to Vital Signs. A large percentage of renters in illegal suites and a rising demand for social housing were areas of concern.
Transportation was another key area where Surrey was found lacking, as the report noted there are limited transit options within the city and “affordable and fair” bridge tolls and improved SkyTrain and bus service are needed.
SurreyCares is an initiative of the Surrey Foundation which aims to help the community create a sustainable and healthy future. A second Vital Signs report is slated for 2017.
Surrey’s report card
• Standard of living: D+
• Safety: D+
• Health and well-being: C
• Learning: C
• Housing: D+
• Getting started (beginning a new life in Surrey) : C
• Arts and Culture: C
• Environment: C
• Economy and Work: C
• Belonging and Leadership: C
• Getting around: D+
Top 10 things to celebrate in Surrey:
2. Festivals and events
3. Locally grown food
4. Natural environment
5. Diverse cultrues
6. Growing economy
7. Recreation opportunities
8. Friends and family
9. Good governance
Top 10 things to improve in Surrey:
1. Crime rates
3. Mental illness
5. Community planning
6. Housing options and affordability
7. Health care
8. Employment opportunities
9. Schools (K-Grade 12)