A landmark decision was made tonight as Surrey City Council gave final adoption to the new City Centre Plan. The plan, which has been under development for the past 10 years, is a major revision and update to the first City Centre Plan adopted back in 1991. Its aim is to redefine the vision and help better establish and reinforce a desirable development pattern for Surrey’s downtown. The 500-page document is full of visionary guidelines, objectives, and plans for the area, which will guide development over the next 30 years.
Below are some of the highlights:
“The goal of the Surrey City Centre Plan is to help develop and support a regional downtown that is the main business, cultural and activity centre for the City of Surrey. It is anticipated that the existing City Centre population of 32,000 will more than double by 2033 to approximately 68,000 people and the number of jobs will increase from 24,000 to 32,000 over the next 10 years.” The population of Surrey as a whole is expected to grow from 550,000 today to over 800,000 within 30 years to become the largest city in BC.
“Surrey’s City Centre is undergoing a major transformation from a suburban centre into a walkable high density, transit oriented downtown for South of the Fraser. Surrey City Centre is envisioned to be the Fraser Valley’s metropolitan centre, connected to major regional destinations by rapid transit and an efficient road network designed to support walking, cycling, and transit. It will be a centre for major employment; services; higher density housing; and commercial, cultural, entertainment, and institutional activity. Surrey City Centre is also designated as Metro Vancouver’s second metropolitan centre in the 2040 Regional Growth Strategy.”
“Distinct and vibrant neighbourhoods, including a dynamic and innovative business sector, university, hospital, and civic and historic districts, will form the framework of the City Centre. Each of these areas will have its own unique character that together will create a diverse, authentic, and interesting downtown.”
City Centre Neighbourhoods
- The City Centre Plan area has been organized into a number of distinct residential neighbourhoods and mixed use districts each with its own emerging identity, function, and scale. These sub areas help to create a focused, vibrant, and more urban downtown by defining and understanding the plan area through a smaller scale and framework.
- A Mid-Century Historic District:
- Building on the historic roots of the area, the vision for the Historic District is to support a pedestrian-oriented eclectic shopping experience with a continuous commercial and retail edge with pedestrian amenities. The historic, mid-century modern feel will be preserved and reinforced through small storefronts, building façade treatment and materials, public art, and signage.
- New developments will incorporate the 1950’s character by using elements that reflect a mid-century modern design aesthetic. These elements include flat roof lines, vertically oriented windows, cantilevered overhangs, and clean and contemporary lines.
Preservation of mid-century heritage signs. If re-use of the sign is not possible, new developments should integrate the heritage sign into the redevelopment through an adaptive re-use approach.
- Central Downtown:
- A major transit hub will be located at the core of the district, building on the existing Surrey Central Exchange and SkyTrain station with the addition of light rail transit(LRT). The suburban style bus loop will be reconfigured into a new on-street transit exchange, as the bus layover and ice arenas are relocated away from the central core.
- The presence of significant new university buildings will expand in the Central Downtown, creating a stronger campus identity and student energy at street level. Research buildings with large floor plates will have active retail street frontages and transparent storefronts to engage the pedestrian with the innovative internal uses.
- Central City Mall Redevelopment:
- Over the longer term, the Central City Mall property will redevelop to create a site that has improved interface and connection to Holland Park as well as a broader range of mixed of uses. The retail uses in the parking lot areas along King George Boulevard will intensify and include office and residential components.
- The interface along Holland Park will also be improved with redevelopment of the parkade structures into high density residential buildings and a redesign that creates direct connection through the mall site to Holland Park.
Greenways and Parks Network
- The downtown will be known for its green urban infrastructure of parks, plazas, greenways, planted boulevards, and rain gardens, as well as for its existing natural features that include fish bearing creeks, riparian areas, and spectacular views to the North Shore and North Cascade Mountains.
- Rapid transit is a cornerstone of the City Centre, both for existing conditions as well as future planning. The existing elevated rapid train system (SkyTrain) links the City Centre with the region north of the Fraser River. A new Light Rail Train (LRT) network is planned to expand the rapid transit service. This network consists of two lines: the ‘L-line’, and the ‘Fraser Highway Line’, which is 17 kilometres long.
- The vision for City Centre’s street network is for a finer-grained, connected framework that facilitates mobility and enhances the safety for all citizens, creating a vibrant, pedestrian-oriented downtown.
- City Parkway will become a car-free zone from 102A Avenue to Central Avenue (103 Ave) and include an LRT station next to Surrey Central SkyTrain Station. The station area is planned as a signature LRT station with the termination of the Fraser Highway line, and intersection of the L-line along City Parkway.
- There are three large public plazas in City Centre. The largest is the Civic Plaza, designed as contemporary open space which offers programmable open space for gatherings and large special events. The Civic Plaza will provide a central corridor that connects the institutions of the civic precinct.
- The redevelopment of the Recreation Centre and the relocation of the North Surrey Arena’s will enable the extension of the Civic Plaza to the south, ultimately linking with the Central City Plaza to create one of Metro Vancouver’s largest urban plaza systems.
- Whalley’s Corner Plaza at 108 Avenue and King George Boulevard will provide a contemporary link to the Whalley’s history, with opportunities for public art and interpretation.
King George Boulevard
- King George Boulevard, between 102 Avenue and 104 Avenue, will emerge as a true “ Boulevard” , with the low intensity commercial and parking lot uses redeveloping into a street-facing downtown shopping area.
- As part of humanizing King George Boulevard, a significant public art installation will be located in the centre of King George Boulevard median, in the residual road right-of-way area created by the narrowing of the street as the LRT turns onto 102 Avenue. As well, segregated cycle tracks will be introduced along King George Boulevard.
- A public art walking loop linking key public art installations. Along the walk will be new art installations, building façade improvements, artistic street furniture, and banners. Corner plazas, seating areas and architectural featuring, will be realized along the art walk through the development of private property.
- An iconic public art installation is envisioned as part of a cultural catalyst project within the City Centre Plaza. An art installation at a world-class scale, located within the core of City Centre, will inspire residents and visitors, energize an important public space and stimulate social interaction and discussion.
- The proposed LRT system should incorporate public art features that promote unique community identities.
While there is too much information in the document to fully cover here, overall, this visionary new plan can be seen as at the forefront of contemporary urban design and planning. As it guides growth over the next few decades, Surrey City Centre is likely to become a world-leading example of how to transform a former suburban centre into a high-quality, mixed-use, mixed-density, environmentally sustaining, culturally rich, and desirable urban centre.