Surrey is only a C-class city, Vital Signs Livability Report shows; Surrey First reaction

  Anita Huberman Photo by Chandra Bodalia

 

   Anita Huberman Photo by Chandra Bodalia

Anita Huberman
Photo by Chandra Bodalia

 

SURREYCARES, in partnership with the Surrey Board of Trade, released the results of Surrey’s first Vital Signs study on Tuesday. The report investigated updated statistical data as well as public opinion on issues ranging from crime to the economy.

“This reports gives the laser-like focus needed to create a more vibrant, livable city,” states Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade.

“We were surprised by some of the things we learned,” states Jeff Hector, president of SurreyCares. “The study reveals that residents have an honest, community-driven pride and a deep interest in where we are going.”

The report includes the results of a public opinion survey where residents assigned ‘grades’ on eleven areas that measure quality of life. Overall, the community scored C, or ‘Average’, on its first report card. The areas rating the greatest interest of residents are:

* Safety: D+

* Arts and Culture: C

* Environment: C

* Economy & Work: C

* Getting Around: D+

For each of the areas, the report includes current, Surrey-specific facts as well as elements to celebrate and improve.

“We urge local groups, charities, and governments to commit their community-improvement activities to the area’s that residents have highlighted in this report,” adds Hector. SurreyCares and the Surrey Board of Trade are vowing to refer to the report when directing their future activities.

 

The full report is at www.surreycares.org

 

SURREY FIRST REACTION:

The Vital Signs 2014 report issued today by Surrey Cares and the Surrey Board of Trade shows the City of Surrey is on the right track in managing its growth, and also serves to reinforce the very issues Surrey First candidates have pointed to as priorities as the city grows.

The report serves as a barometer of where Surrey’s residents stand on important issues affecting its residents.

It points to an 11 per cent drop in crime over the past five years, especially in the areas of violent crime (down 37 per cent), youth crime (down 37 percent) and vehicle theft (down 20 per cent).

It also points out after-tax household incomes are increasing, and that 84 per cent of respondents are satisfied with the direction of the city.

The report also points out that improvements in transit, public safety and economic development are important to Surrey residents.

“The report shows we have a lot to celebrate in Surrey, but we’ve still got work to do,” noted Linda Hepner, Surrey First’s mayoral candidate. “We’re definitely making progress, but a growing city is also going to have to address important issues such as transit and public safety. While the statistics show crime is down in Surrey, the report notes that public safety remains top of mind among our residents.

“It’s also worth noting that some of these issues are beyond the city’s purview, but we still believe it’s important to advocate for improved services in areas such as education and transportation. So, the report is valuable in highlighting the progress we’re making, and reinforcing issues Surrey First has already identified as priorities going forward.”

 

IN another statement, issued on Wednesday, Surrey First defending its performance, stated:

 

AS one of the fastest growing communities in the country, Surrey is attracting 1,000 new residents every month, with one-third of its population under 24. So, why does Surrey have less youth crime than British Columbia or Canada?

“Take a look at our city and you’ll see that we’re paying attention to our kids and their needs,” explained mayoral candidate Linda Hepner, who now heads Surrey First, the organization she and outgoing mayor Dianne Watts created to bring non-partisan leadership to city council.

“Whether it’s programs for youth, expanded sports, more pools, playing fields, rinks and rec centres than ever before, or mentorships that pair gifted students with kids at risk, we want to keep our young people safe, and make sure they know they have a future here.”

This week’s Surrey Vital Signs report, compiled by the Surrey Cares Foundation and the Surrey Board of Trade, says 86 per cent of Surrey youth between 15 and 24 like living in the city, but want more local jobs and affordable housing options.

“Surrey used to be a bedroom community, now, our emphasis is on attracting job-creating businesses that provide more opportunities for our youth,” added Hepner, a three-term city councillor and former economic development manager for the city. “Since 2005, we’ve added 15,000 new businesses to the city, and this year alone we’ll add 2,000 more. We’ve also added our Innovation Boulevard which is targeting attracting health and technology jobs to our city.”

The Vital Signs report singles out the city’s Community Safety Youth Leadership and Mentorship Program as an “inspiring example” of the community’s “proactive efforts” to reach out to young people.

“The City helps fund the Surrey Crime Prevention Society which works with our school district and the Ministry of Children and Families,” said Hepner. “Together they pair up gifted students looking to strengthen their leadership skills with specially-trained mentors and youth at risk. It’s working and it’s one example of the kind of innovative approach we’re taking to make sure our kids have every opportunity to succeed here.

“This is their home and the report says that two-thirds of them expect to be here in five years, which is good news for our city and economy. We want them to be able to afford a home, find a good job and raise their own families here. It starts with a proactive approach aimed at helping them make good choices as young people. The benefits are tremendous and it’s reflected in our low youth crime stats.”