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Surrey neighbourhood in ‘Mixing Middle’ contest that aims to solve urban planning issues

Winning ideas will share $35,000 in cash and other prizes in Urbanarium’s competition
This area of Fleetwood, just north of Fleetwood Park Secondary, is subject of an urban-planning design contest called The Mixing Middle. (Photo:

One Surrey neighbourhood is a focus of a design contest billed as a “rare opportunity for the public to help solve urban planning issues.”

The Mixing Middle competition calls for innovative mixed-use designs intended to revitalize residential areas in four Metro Vancouver communities, including a square area of Fleetwood bounded by 80 Ave, 82 Ave, 156 St. and 158 St., just north of Fleetwood Park Secondary. The other areas are in Coquitlam, North Vancouver and Vancouver.

Winning ideas will share $35,000 in cash prizes and profiles in magazines, videos, presentations to councils and municipal staff, possible demonstration projects and future commissions, according to contest planners with Vancouver Urbanarium Society (aka Urbanarium).

The fee to enter is $120, deadline Nov. 2.

A question at the core of the “ideas” competition: “At a time when more people than ever are working close to home, how can we make our neighbourhoods more livable?”

All of the Mixing Middle sites are in single-family, residential-use zones.

“Some of these municipalities permit basement suites and laneway houses, but not other uses,” notes a post on, which includes competition details. “The Mixing Middle is a chance to explore the possibilities of multifunctional mixed uses, such as businesses or studio spaces attached to homes. The aim is to create more vibrant neighbourhoods that meet the needs of intergenerational and multi-cultural residents by expanding the ways that people live, work, create, and caregive.”

A contest-explanation video is titled “Why Did we make Front Yard Businesses Illegal?”

Applicants can be individuals or teams, and do not need to be registered professionals or local to B.C. “Multidisciplinary teams with students or youth members are encouraged to apply as well,” the rules say. “Submission guidelines are provided, but should not be viewed as strict parameters — creativity, ambition, and even the fantastical are all welcome.”

The Mixing Middle follows Urbanarium’s 2018 competition The Missing Middle, which addressed Metro Vancouver’s affordable-housing crisis by inviting solutions to densification challenges.

Urbanarium was founded in 1985 by a group of “committed urbanites in Vancouver, including planners, architects and others passionate about city making.” The volunteer-run organization’s mandate is “informing and engaging the residents of Metro Vancouver to help guide community decision making.”

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Tom Zillich

About the Author: Tom Zillich

I cover entertainment, sports and news stories for the Surrey Now-Leader, where I've worked for more than half of my 30-plus years in the newspaper business.
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