The Panama Canal. (Wikimedia photo)

ZYTARUK: Canal isn’t Surrey’s first ‘different’ idea

Anyone up for waterskiing in Doug’s Ditch?

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Somebody had to dream up the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Egypt, the Panama Canal. When Noah built the ark, naysayers scoffed – but look what that got them.

Surrey’s Mayor Doug McCallum is now floating the idea of building a canal in Surrey.

Maybe they’ll call it Doug’s Ditch.

He notes Surrey is on a tear as far as growth is concerned, primed to “be innovative and try different things.”

“When you travel around the world and you look at major cities, most of them have some type of waterfront or riverfront or canal front,” McCallum observed at a Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association panel discussion Thursday on the city centre’s future.

As reported online by the Now-Leader’s Lauren Collins, McCallum said water features are a “big crowd pleaser” and if the city could find a “less busy” street, a type of “wandering canal” could be built.

“The idea certainly came to me when I noticed that in Qatar, as I said when I was there, that shopping centres had canals instead of walkways,” he said.

“But if you look at some other cities like Venice and so forth, they have canals that they use for transportation.”

McCallum said he’s presented the idea to a few people, including the engineering department.

“They certainly say it’s thinking outside the box, but they didn’t sort of reject it.”

READ ALSO: Surrey mayor suggests building a canal on ‘less busy’ road

Asked if he has a path in mind, McCallum said not yet. But the canal could start at the Fraser River and end in the “centre part of Surrey.”

“It’s things that I think we need to start looking at. They’re not necessarily innovative because that’s done around the world, but we need to start applying them to our city.”

McCallum has dreamed big dreams before.

In 1997, during his first term as mayor he pitched Whalley as a site for the Molson Indy.

But it was not to be.

He also championed a campaign in 2000 to have the PNE relocated to Bridgeview.

This too did not come to pass.

McCallum is not alone when it comes to “outside the box” ideas. His predecessor, former Surrey mayor Linda Hepner, took it on the chin after announcing in 2014 she’d like to see a big ferris wheel built in Bridgeview.

She referenced it last September – four years later – in her final State of the City address.

“Don’t ever say you want a ferris wheel,” Hepner told her audience, indulging in some good clean self-deprecation.

“Maybe a small carousel, or to be even safer, stick to a pony ride, but not a ferris wheel,” she advised. “Even though the best cities in the world do all seem to have them.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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