The City of Surrey is overhauling its civic awards program, which has a new name and involves the merger or elimination of some awards and categories.
The rebranded Civic Distinction Awards Program will now kick into gear, following a council vote Monday (Oct. 7) to have staff start planning a process and ceremony for 2020, as part of a four-year cycle instead of three.
A review of Surrey’s previous City Awards Program identified duplication and gaps in categories for seven awards, including honours for Beautiful City, Clean Energy, Sport Tourism, Heritage, New City Design and Heart in the City.
In addition to those, the city has facilitated four annual awards, including Good Citizen of the Year, Surrey Civic Treasure, SASSY (or Service Above Self Surrey Youth) and Outdoor Sport Volunteer Appreciation.
In June, a City Speaks survey of 872 people found 49 per cent of respondents were aware of the City Awards program, while 51 per cent were not.
For award awareness and importance, the Good Citizen honour scored top marks, while the Civic Treasure, New City Design and Heart of the City awards were deemed lowest on the importance scale.
Moving forward, according to a report to the council, “a multi-faceted marketing/communications strategy will accompany the name change to reach target audiences, ensure a high volume of nominations are received and enhance recognition in the community.”
Also, the new Civic Distinction Awards name “better identifies the intent of the awards and adds prestige to the program,” the report says. “The individual award names should also be reviewed to ensure a colloquial level of understanding of each award or category.”
To streamline things, the Clean Energy award will be eliminated, the Surrey Civic Treasures and Heritage in the City awards will be merged, and a new category for public art will be created under the New City Design Award, “as there is now a substantial inventory of public art available for assessment.” Also, as a pilot, a new category of Historic and Legacy Commercial Business will be created under the Heritage in the City Award.
As for costs, the report says $75,000 was spent to develop and administer the City Awards program, and staff will now draft a budget for the rebranded Civic Distinction Awards.
Every fall since 2008, winners of Surrey’s Civic Treasures award have been announced at a Business & the Arts reception held at Surrey Arts Centre, but the event won’t be held this year. The award celebrates “Surrey’s highest achievers in the cultural sector,” including 2018 recipients Jim Foulkes and Roxanne Charles.