Friday, May 4, 2012

Surrey's Forgotten Neighborhoods

I attended the North Surrey Town Hall meeting on Monday, April 30th and learned a few things.

First, I learned that my neighborhood does not exist in their fancy 35 page thick, glossy, professionally produced piece of city marketing.
The title of the magazine is "Investing in our City's Future. Build Surrey Program."  The tag line at the beginning says "Surrey is a city of vibrant communities"

Since I was given this at a North Surrey Town hall meeting,  I was surprised  that not one mention was made of  North Surrey, Bridgeview, Bolivar Heights, Brownsville, Cedar Hills, Scott Road and especially not Whalley.  Neither was the South Fraser Perimeter Highway, Patullo Bridge or any other number of other things that are in my Surrey.

  I guess my neighborhood isn't one of the vibrant communities and doesn't get to be included. Instead there was a whole lot of emphasis on the new City Center and the new developments.

Secondly, I learned that 90% of the people that attend a North Surrey Town Hall meeting are white. The people in my neighborhood are probably 90% East Indian, Punjabi, Indo-Canadian, Sikh, (no, they aren't necessarily all the same culturally) Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Fijian, Filipino, Somalian or Jamaican and more. I'm not sure what this says, but since the purpose of a Town Hall meeting is to find out residents' concerns, it seemed to me that we were missing most of the population.

 Thirdly I found out that many, many issues all came back to law enforcement. They throw up their hands and say well, it's by laws. Un-enforceable by-laws are worse than no laws. Either you have to change the law or enforce the law. Any other way only breeds disrespect and lawlessness.

 About two months ago I paid a visit to Bridgeview, a neighborhood long ignored and neglected. I was surprised to see a derelict empty house right across from the park. Neighbors told me it had been like that for a long long time. I paid a return visit this week and after talking to a neighbor, discovered it had been an eyesore for maybe 5 to 7 years now.
Google streetview on April 2009.  People are living there, I can understand how it's difficult to remove people and their belongings from a residence. Neighbors put up with this for a long time.

Sometime in summer 2011 the city did work on the sewer system. You can see their equipment and pipes outside this property. It doesn't seem anyone is living there anymore.

February 2012. Definitely no one is living there. When I call by laws they tell me there is already a file open.  I hear that Surrey is now getting serious and they will give property owners a short time to comply. 30 days I'm told.

Now it's May 2012. The windows now have plywood on the inside... The opening into the "car port" has been barely blocked with scraps. 

It's still full of crap. Perfect nesting ground for mosquitoes, rats, mice and other critters.

Did I mention it's across from Bridgeview park and community center?

Which do we focus on? Bridgeview in Motion?

Or do we focus on the city holding us back. It is unable to enforce unsightly property laws. It is unable to handle the garbage problem. It is unable to help tenants with bad landlords.
 It is unable to plan ahead so that long term residents are considered when they do these huge projects like the South Fraser Perimeter Road. The construction is a stones throw away from some residents in Bridgeview and their neighborhood's streets are unresolved since the SFPR plowed through. I also heard complaints yet again of a sewer smell. Sound familiar? I also covered that in February's post.

Finally I learned that politicians will talk a lot at a Town Hall Meeting if you give them a chance. They will take away valuable speaking time from residents trying to voice their concerns.  I learned that some will talk louder and louder to get their point across, perhaps somehow thinking this makes them right. 
Millions are being spent on transforming the downtown core at City Center, while the rest of My Surrey remains forgotten. The Town Hall meeting did not make me feel hopeful about Surrey's future.


  1. Truth be told, most of the East Indian, Punjabi and Filipino communities do not seem very concerned with what's going on in Surrey, probably because a disproportionate amount of youths from those cultures are involved in a lot of illegal opportunities.

    1. That sounds like racialized generalization and ignorant of the truth about opportunity and privilege in white Canada.

  2. Bridgeview is pretty much white


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