Safe Surrey Coalition council members congratulated themselves Monday night before council unanimously authorized city staff to purchase 16 adjacent parcels of land in Newton for future parkland, road alignment and civic projects.
It involves 7.24 acres, part of which embraces the former site of the Rona store at 6965 King George Blvd., which closed permanently on Jan. 26.
Councillor Laurie Guerra said council has heard so often that Newton has been neglected, “time and time again.
“But not today,” she said. “Along with the main promises that the Safe Surrey Coalition campaigned on, of bringing the SkyTrain down the Fraser Highway, and a municipal police made in Surrey by Surrey and for Surrey, and smart development, we promised that we would look to put a community centre in Newton. Once again, promise made, promise kept.”
Councillor Allison Patton echoed that.
“What I’m excited about is it’s going to be designed by the people in that community, uniquely for the community,” she said. “Another one for our books – promise made, promise kept.”
Councillor Doug Elford called it a “very exciting purchase.”
“The potential of this site is just incredible,” he said, also noting the community “over the years has said they felt they’ve been neglected in terms of investments and this certainly is an opportunity for us to respond to that.
”I live close by, it’s rife with prostitution and petty crime and it needs a change. Whatever we develop on this site, it’s going to be a huge improvement to the area.”
Meantime, the four councillors not with the Safe Surrey majority, balked at the political navel-gazing.
“I realize we are two years into our term, I think this is probably, there is 730-odd days left before the next campaign, but if we’re going to be talking about what we campaigned on and bring back mottos and stuff, I don’t think this is the right venue for that,” said Councillor Jack Hundial, of Surrey Connect.
Councillor Linda Annis, of Surrey First, said the project is “long overdue, Newton’s been waiting for good things to happen to them in the past number of years” and it will be “a real asset to the community.”
Councillor Brenda Locke, of Surrey Connect, said it’s a “great opportunity not for Newton, but for all of Surrey.”
“I also want to say we are here for all the residents of Surrey, whether they voted for us or not, so having political statements that come from these tables is in my mind inappropriate,” she said. “I too, though, will be looking forward to seeing the financial piece to that because that’s really going to direct what we can do.”
Councillor Steven Pettigrew, who sits as an Independent, said as far as parks go, “the more the merrier,” but asked his council colleagues, “Is this what we’re going to be going through for the next two years…has the election started tonight, has the campaigning started tonight?”
Surrey’s next civic election will be held on Oct. 15, 2022.
“I really don’t relish sitting here for the next two years listening to all the accolades of certain parties,” Pettigrew said. “Let’s just focus on city business.
“So I would ask that council just stick to the business and stop promoting their own parties, it’s really self-serving and I would hope this is the last of it and I don’t have to keep saying this. It’s very inappropriate.”
Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum, of the Safe Surrey Coalition, was the last to speak.
“We actually during the election did hear from our community that this is one of their top priorities to get this, to get some type of recreation facilities in Newton,” he said.
“This will be fast-tracked because the need has been there for so long.”