The Proudly Surrey slate promises that, if elected, it will build more community centres in the city – a lot more.
The party commits to constructing community centres every three kilometres around the city, in an effort hoped to improve access to civic amenities.
They estimate that would be 15 in total, including those underway, and they aim to get it done in 10 years.
“How many of our seniors and youth can walk to a community centre?” questioned Proudly Surrey mayoral candidate Pauline Greaves, in a release. “Community facilities do not work like big box stores.”
Greaves said there’s been a “Walmartization” of community centres, and that previous mayors planned community centres the way they planned residential and commercial developments: “As car-oriented big boxes that exclude the people who need them most.
Proudly Surrey says despite its huge geographic size, Surrey currently has only 11 community centres, “rendering it impossible for most residents to walk to the centre with which the city associates their neighbourhood.”
The slate noted some residents face a five kilometre walk to their local community centre.
“These are simply not walkable distances. The idea that people must walk three miles or more to their local community centre violates the very concept of ‘community centre,’” said Greaves.
“The Walmart model is no better for community services than it is for urban planning or convenient shopping,” she added. “Proudly Surrey will begin decentralizing our community centre system, creating centres that kids can walk to after school and seniors can walk to after breakfast.”
Proudly Surrey also says its plan for new community centres “dovetails with two other key policy planks, designed by the social science PhDs who dominate the party’s front bench, the elimination of community centre fees and the building of all new schools as community school partnerships between the city government and school board.”
To achieve their goal, Greaves said Proudly Surrey will “engage in much more ambitious lands swaps to recover value we create for developers by up-zoning property. That is how we are going to acquire the land necessary to create a walkable community centre network in our city.”
Over the long term, Greaves said the team’s goal is to have a community centre that no Surrey resident should live less than a mile from their local community centre.
“We need a city where seniors are not isolated, where non-drivers are not stigmatized and where it is easier for your kids to participate in a community centre activity than a gang member’s party,” she said.
Proudly Surrey council candidate Stuart Parker said “the building and financing of this (plan) is complicated by the fact that nearly all of the new centres would be community schools and be constructed as a shared cost program between the school board, province and city council,” Parker said. “The average cost per community school would fall between $45 million (for smaller facilities leveraging elementary schools) to $60 million for those based around secondary schools. In the rare instances where an existing school was unsuitable for expansion, community centre costs would sit around $35 million.”
He added: “Despite our current condition of massive fiscal surplus, we would be inclined to place this project as a capital plan before voters as a ballot measure, allowing for low interest financing and to secure a clear mandate to proceed. After the experience of the LRT, it is clear that clear voter consent is crucial for big ticket infrastructure programs.”
Surrey voters head to the polls on Oct. 20.