File photo

File photo

Surrey to borrow $150 million for three major recreation projects

That’s for a sports complex in the city centre, a sports and ice complex in Cloverdale and a community centre in Newton

Surrey city council has unanimously decided to borrow $150.6 million for three major community projects although some councillors expressed trepidation about the city taking on so much debt.

Council passed third reading Monday on authorizing borrowing, through the Municipal Finance Authority of British Columbia, $40 million to construct a sports complex in the city centre, $20.6 million to build a sports and ice complex in Cloverdale and $90 million to construct a community centre in Newton.

“We definitely need these facilities for our young families,” Councillor Linda Annis said. “However, I am concerned about the fact that we are borrowing such a significant amount of money. I feel that we need to be re-prioritizing what we’re doing rather than borrowing this kind of money.

“I think we should be living within our budgets,” she said. “Once we come out of COVID, what happens if the interest rates go up?”

“I don’t want to see us selling lands,” Annis said. “I do think that building these is an excellent idea, it’s the financing that concerns me and living within our means.”

Councillor Allison Patton said the time is right to borrow money, with interest rates being as low as they are. “If not now, when?”

“That’s what leaders do, is they figure out solutions when the time is right and when it makes sense,” she said. Councillor Jack Hundial said he would support it, “but very cautiously.

“I’m not a fan of borrowing if we don’t need to and there’s money elsewhere that we can be bringing in,” he said. “I want to be very careful moving forward.”

Councillor Steven Pettigrew said he supports the three projects but added he “would have preferred to see these done a different way. I don’t believe in increasing our debt burden to our city, but at this point we don’t have a whole lot of other options. I would have preferred to see the (policing) transition cancelled and the monies redirected from there into these projects.”

Councillor Brenda Locke also weighed in. “Likewise I’ll be supporting it, albeit cautiously as well,” she said. “I’m also concerned about the fiscal reality that we know we are in and the fiscal reality that we don’t know we are in, which is what the pandemic will do as we continue to move forward.

“I have one other wish, and that would be the pool for the people of Whalley, that is certainly something that I think is unfortunately not here and perhaps we can look at that at another opportunity.”

Councillor Mandeep Nagra the city needs to “starts investing” and council “needs to start thinking about the next four years.

“We can’t be talking about COVID,” Nagra said. “By then COVID is going to be long gone in the next four years. I think it’s almost over, we’re close to it. So now it’s a good time to start these projects.

“The interest rates are historically low so now is the good time to start.”

According to a corporate report by Kam Grewal, Surrey’s general manager of finance, the Cloverdale project will provide two more sheets of ice for that community and is estimated to cost $50.1 million, with $29.5 million of that funded through pay-as-you go city financing and the rest through long-term borrowing through the MFA.

Last October council unanimously authorized city staff to purchase 16 adjacent parcels of land in Newton for future parkland, road alignment and civic projects. It involves 7.24 acres, part of which embraces the former site of the Rona store at 6965 King George Blvd., which closed permanently on Jan. 26, 2020. Grewal said design work for the community centre is expected to begin early this year with 18 to 20 months of construction starting in late 2021.

READ ALSO: New ‘Sports Complex’ in North Surrey pitched as $40M expansion of existing rec centre

READ ALSO: Surrey buying 16 properties in Newton for parkland, civic amenities

Grewal noted design work for the city centre sports complex will begin early this year with construction targeted to begin in late 2021 and its expected completion in mid-2022. He added that design for the Cloverdale project is “essentially complete,” with construction expected to begin next year and be completed in early 2024.

Councillor Doug Elford said Surrey residents have told council they are in “desperate need of infrastructure.

“Is there ever a good time to borrow?” he asked rhetorically. “Right now I firmly believe the time is to move on this.

“We put them off, it’s just going to cost us more,” Elford said. “Let’s get going.”

Councillor Laurie Guerra noted that interest rates are “the lowest seen in 30-odd years.

“I think now is the best time to do this,” she said.

Mayor Doug McCallum chided council members outside his Safe Surrey Coalition for voting against and “speaking loud and hard and determined” against the city budget.

“I’m glad that you have changed your mind, but boy, I say it, this very truly, that, you know, we have to get some consistency in here and we need to be thinking of the city of Surrey, not of ourselves, how we can improve it,” McCallum said. “And it is really critical to those four that constantly voted against these projects, constantly voted against our budget, to all of a sudden turn around and support it, I mean, that’s to me, in my ears, it’s astonishing.”

“I’m glad to hear that council is unanimous in moving forward with this.”

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram  and follow Tom on Twitter

City of SurreyFinancesRecreation

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This map illustrates the number of active COVID-19 cases in Greater Vancouver from Feb. 21 to Feb. 27, 2021. (BC Centre for Disease Control image)
Delta’s COVID-19 numbers continue to climb

Total number of cases in Fraser Health increased by 206 from Feb. 21-27

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Surrey Police Service hires first three inspectors as ‘next layer of leadership’

Three men have more than 80 years of combined experience

Delta police have arrested a suspect in the theft of a custom-made wheelchair hoist stolen from a Ladner condo complex’s underground parkade on Dec. 15, 2020. (Debbie J Green/Facebook photos)
Delta police arrest suspect in theft of custom wheelchair hoist

The device was stolen Dec. 15, 2020 in Ladner and later recovered, stripped and damaged, in Surrey

TEASER - SAGAís Gift Shop Manager Barbie Warwick wearing The Summons while sketching in Facing Time exhibit. Photo by Pardeep Singh.jpg
‘The Summons’ face masks created as fundraiser for Surrey Art Gallery Association

Image of magnolia flower and poetry printed on specially designed mask

An officer collects forensic evidence from a police SUV following the July 18, 2015 incident that ended in the police-shooting death of Hudson Brooks in South Surrey. (File photo)
Experts discuss toxicology, use-of-force at inquest into fatal 2015 police shooting in South Surrey

Proceedings could lead to recommendations for preventing similar deaths

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Grand Forks’ Gary Smith stands in front of his Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster float. Photo: Submitted
Grand Forks’ Flying Spaghetti Monster leader still boiling over driver’s licence photo

Gary Smith, head of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster of B.C., said he has since spoken to lawyers

RCMP members responded to calls of a man-down at Landsdowne mall in Richmond Wednesday afternoon. The 40-year-old was suffering from stab wounds. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man in critical condition following afternoon attack outside Richmond mall: RCMP

The Vancouver resident was found lying injured outside Richmond’s Lansdowne Centre

A Cowichan Valley mom is wondering why masks haven’t been mandated for elementary schools. (Metro Creative photo)
B.C. mom frustrated by lack of mask mandate for elementary students

“Do we want to wait until we end up like Fraser Health?”

B.C. research reveals how pandemic has changed attitudes towards sex, health services

CDC survey shows that 35 per cent of people were worried about being judged

A bus rider uses a support bar with an anti-microbial copper coating, newly implemented as part of a TransLink pilot program. (TransLink)
‘Self-disinfecting’ copper coming to more of TransLink’s fleet to fight against COVID-19

The transit authority says tests showed the surface was 99.9% effective in killing pathogens

RCMP were on scene under the Menzies Street bridge in Chilliwack on Thursday, March 4, 2021 where a body was found. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
UPDATE: Body found under Menzies bridge in Chilliwack that of man in 20s

Death not considered suspicious, said Chilliwack RCMP

Some Canadians are finding butter harder than usual, resulting in an avalanche of social media controversy around #buttergate. (Brett Williams/The Observer)
#Buttergate: Concerns around hard butter hit small B.C. towns and beyond

Canadians find their butter was getting harder, blame palm oil in part one of this series

Most Read