Surrey will be the headquarters for a new Regional Development Agency for B.C. that will aim to help businesses recover from the pandemic, the federal government has announced.
Pacific Economic Development Canada (PacifiCan) will provide $553.1 million over five years, starting in 2021-22 and $110.6 million annually thereafter.
“The impacts of Covid-19 have had a ripple effect through our local economy, and we must work together with all levels of government to help businesses recover from this pandemic and continue to prosper in the years to come,” Mayor Doug McCallum stated in a City of Surrey press release issued Aug. 5. “Today’s announcement will ensure that our city, and our province, has dedicated and sustained federal economic development support in place to foster long term economic growth. The selection of Surrey as the headquarters for this important new federal agency is an example of the federal commitment to building Surrey as the second metropolitan centre for the region.”
The government has not yet revealed where in Surrey the headquarters will be, except to say it will most likely be in the downtown city centre. Service locations will also be set up in Victoria, Campbell River, Prince Rupert, Fort St. John, Prince George, Cranbrook and Kelowna.
Randeep Sarai, Liberal MP for Surrey Centre, noted Surrey is well suited for this headquarters.
“It’s kind-of the gateway to the Pacific, it’s one of the largest ports and access to the biggest port in Canada and also the largest border crossing,” he said. “It kind of makes sense to have it right here.”
“I think the short list will be that it will be in the city centre, downtown,” he said. “I think the department is looking at locations as we speak.”
This will be one of two federal offices headquartered in B.C. The other, Destination Canada, which used to be called Tourism Canada, is in Vancouver.
“So there’s only two federal head offices in British Columbia and one of them is going to be here in Surrey, the other one is in Vancouver,” Sarai noted. “Historical significance.”
Anita Huberman, CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade and recently appointee to the board of directors of Canada’s International Trade Training Organization, said she is “so excited” about this headquarters announcement.
“We actively advocated for it with a variety of ministers we’ve met with over the past three or four months,” she said. “We’re just so pleased that Surrey is finally being recognized as a major economic development player and this agency proves that it terms of it being headquartered right here in Surrey.”
Surrey city Councillor Allison Patton, a member of the city’s investment and innovation impact committee, said the investment will help expand business in this region and also “increase well-paying jobs.”
“This is great news for our city, and our province,” Patton said.