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Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

City of Surrey trying to halt radio orchestra’s swan song

with 9 comments


I have tried to keep my personal views about the deliberate sabotaging of culture here and on CBC Radio 2 off this blog. I have another one for that. But this article shows how Surrey is really leading the region. They understand that a real city is more than just real estate and property taxes.

“This is an opportunity looking us square in the face,” says Surrey Coun. Linda Hepner, who introduced the resolution. “Bringing the orchestra here marries nicely with the shift in direction that we’ve taken to develop our city centre core.”

Mayor Dianne Watts agrees.

“We’ve already crunched some of the numbers and we certainly think that bringing this orchestra to Surrey can be done,” she says.

The mayor explains that establishing a resident symphony orchestra fits hand-in-glove with Surrey’s larger plans to move city hall from its current hinterland location on Highway 10 to the emerging downtown core in Whalley, where the new Simon Fraser University campus, an increasing number of high-rise buildings and SkyTrain are located.

It is Surrey’s good fortune that Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan has been far too busy fighting off a challenge from Peter Ladner to notice what is happening to culture in his own city. And the idea of Surrey City Centre finally rising out of the disaster area that “Whalley” was when I got here ten years ago is very encouraging. And Surrey is, of course, much more a Central Place than downtown Vancouver geographically for the region as whole .   Surrey has been growing faster than Vancouver for some time, and it will be salutory for the people who have been overly confident that the downtown core will always be the centre to realize that the competition is real. There is more to a city than thin high expensive condos.

Written by Stephen Rees

May 25, 2008 at 8:09 am

Posted in Urban Planning

Tagged with ,

9 Responses

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  1. Stephen, Sam has already got supporting the CBC orchestra on his radar, as evidenced by his recent announcement on a host of arts initiatives, including creating more artist spaces in DTES commercial store fronts.

    As for Surrey becoming the “centre” of anything, it’s going to take a lot more than a few press releases out of Dianne Watt’s office to make Surrey rival Vancouver. While it’s fine to speculate about these things, those who really know Metro Vancouver can appreciate it will be another lifetime before Surrey can get past its car-focused, big box orientation.


    May 25, 2008 at 8:01 pm

  2. Well all that site says is than Sam will “support the campaign to keep the CBC Radio orchestra in Vancouver”. Well I’m doing that too. I don’t see it having a whole lot of effect, and it is not the same as pursuing alternative ways of funding the orchestra.

    And “artists spaces in DTES store fronts” is not exactly on the point of this discussion, is it? Are you by any chance employed by Sam or the NPA? Or just one of his supporters?

    As long as Kevin Falcon (and Gordon Campbell) ensure that new rapid transit funding gets pumped into Gordon’s riding for an unnecessary tube, and the only commitment to expand transit South of the Fraser is in pie crust promises, it does indeed seem unlikely that we will see much transit oriented development there. But then that is the BC Liberal strategy, isn’t it. Summoning Diane Watts to his transit plan announcement at short notice and then surprising her with the assumption that municipalities will be expected to cough up lots of new money for it (which had never been discussed with any municipal officials) did not exactly endear him to her.

    There is a lot more coming out of Surrey than press releases right now. And the geographic centrality and the location of most new growth is unarguable. Timelines we can discuss – but my bet is things will move faster there than in CoV. YMMV

    Stephen Rees

    May 25, 2008 at 8:46 pm

  3. It’s a bit like saying that Nebraska is the “centre” of the continental USA, which it is. It still doesn’t make it the cultural heart of America.

    So you’re arguing that building the UBC line over the next decade+ is robbing Surrey of a chance at greatness? Surrey still has sprawl as its guiding principle last time I checked. Vancouver is trying to grow smarter.

    As for Sam having supporters, he is mayor after all. Angry lefties might be very loud, but fortunately they represent the minority view.


    May 26, 2008 at 7:14 am

  4. Further to the CBC orchestra item. Vancouver City Council represented by Clr. Ball rallies to oppose CBC cuts:


    May 26, 2008 at 7:28 am

  5. Karen

    Surrey – and the rest of the South of the Fraser area – as well as Coquitlam and the others – have all been asking for better transit for years. Port Moody actually tried to build smarter – but did not get the transit line it was promised. Vancouver has three times the transit service per head that Surrey does. Surrey is actually more densely developed than Burnaby. Yet the Canada Line now under construction is mainly for Vancouver – Richmond, Delta and South Surrey will all have a slower ride to downtown after its finished. The loopy Millennium Line benefitted just Burnaby and East Vancouver – Surrey lost half its Skytain service. And getting students to UBC through the West Side is now thought to be important than any concerns about Smart Growth in the rest of the region. You cannot have Transit Oriented Development without transit. Townhouses need to be part of a town to work effectively.

    This is nothing whatever to do with “left” and “right” – this is common sense against the pork barrel. Gordon Campbell thinks his riding is the most important priority!

    And once again it is not Sam speaking about the CBC – he sent someone else. That suggests it’s not exactly a high priority for the Mayor. And all that is happening is protest at the CBC’s actions – not finding another way. And the CBC (like the BC Liberals) seems utterly impervious to public opinion.

    Stephen Rees

    May 26, 2008 at 9:47 am

  6. Further to CBC item and Sam not being interested in this topic:

    Mayor Sam Sullivan declares June “CBC Radio Orchestra Month”


    May 26, 2008 at 2:35 pm

  7. No. It is not “more”. It is exactly the same thing again but in a different paper!

    You are getting a bit desperate, aren’t you?

    But of course the Straight is at least a “leftie” paper, I will grant you that.

    How many declarations has Sam signed? And how much difference did they make?

    Stephen Rees

    May 26, 2008 at 2:43 pm

  8. And there was a 6 page (web pages that is) piece in Friday’s Courier and it doesn’t quote – or even mention – our Sam!

    Stephen Rees

    May 26, 2008 at 5:42 pm

  9. Surrey is doing far better under Diane Watts than the previous mayor with respect to changing its development paradigm. I know a few planners there who are very committed to Smart Growth principles. Surrey is starving for equitable investments in transit (a long story, that one), and the fact it dares to adopt the CBC Radio Orchestra speaks well for its cultural ambitions.

    I wish them well … and I’m an Inner City Vancouverite.


    May 27, 2008 at 12:44 pm

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