Geography and Demography
Surrey is a municipality on the Fraser River near its discharge into the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the mainland at the southwestern corner of the Canadian Province of British Columbia. A part of the Greater Vancouver Regional District, after Vancouver it is the second city of the district and of the province. The municipal area of more than 120 square miles extends from the river 15 miles southwards to the international border at Blaine in the State of Washington. The 2011 Census reported a population of 468,251, a growth from 394,976 in 2006.
Surrey incorporated in 1879. After the construction of the Pattullo Bridge across the river from New Westminster to Surrey in 1937, dramatic expansion followed. In the 1950s, the Whalley/North Surrey neighbourhood filled with homes for commuters to Burnaby and Vancouver. In the 1980s and 1990s, Surrey received new residents from all over Canada and the world, especially Asia. The growing City of Surrey soon may surpass Vancouver in population.
Highway 1 of the Trans-Canada Highway passes through the Guildford section of Surrey on its eastern transcontinental course. In the early 1990s, rail transit returned when the SkyTrain Expo Line added four Surrey stations with 35-minute service to downtown Vancouver. Vancouver International Airport, 17 miles to the west, operates daily flights to destinations in North America, Europe, and Asia. Abbotsford International Airport, 15 miles to the east, operates daily flights to Calgary and Edmonton and seasonal flights to Puerto Vallarta in Mexico.
In 2008, the Surrey Council created the Surrey Sustainability Charter, a comprehensive plan to guide urban development of the growing city. The charter has conceptual goals, a framework for action, and an implementation strategy breaking sustainable development down into socio-cultural, economic, and environmental aspects. Preservation of agricultural reserves as a good investment in husbandry is an important part of the plan. The goals are to encourage urban agriculture, reduce reliance on food transport, improve food quality and availability, and develop value-adding food processing agribusinesses.
Surrey Town Centres
The six town centres are Cloverdale, Fleetwood, Guildford, Newton, South Surrey, and Whalley/City Centre. Cloverdale, settled in the mid to late 1800s, has grown from a rural, agricultural community into a hub of commerce still retaining much of its historic charm. The Cloverdale Fairgrounds host an annual rodeo.
Fleetwood residents named their sector in honour of a local soldier killed in the First World War and commemorated by a statue in front of the Fleetwood Community Centre and Library. The Fleetwood Community Association, formed in 1923, sponsors the annual Fleetwood Festival to promote and celebrate the local heritage. Besides the community centre, Fleetwood residents and their guests enjoy recreation at the Surrey Sport and Leisure Complex with aquatic facilities and Fleetwood Park with landscaped trails, gardens, and playing fields.
In Guildford commercial activity centres on 152 Street and 104 Avenue around the Guildford Town Centre Mall. (On the Surrey traffic grid, streets run north-south in ascending numerical order from west to east and avenues east-west in ascending numbers from south to north.) Guilford Town Centre businesses have good access to the Trans-Canada Highway and convenient proximity to the terminal station of the SkyTrain Expo Line. Residential growth proceeds in the Fraser Heights neighbourhood, a good investment overlooking the river.
Newton’s namesake is E J Newton, who in 1886 settled at what is now 72 Avenue and 124 Street near the present town centre at the intersection of 72 Avenue and King George Boulevard. In Newton are the historic Sullivan Community Hall and the Fraser Valley Heritage Rail Society.
The South Surrey historic resort community of Crescent Beach is a popular attraction. The Historic Stewart Farm in Elgin Heritage Park gives visitors a colorful glimpse of Surrey’s farming history
Whalley, once merely a gas station with a small store, is today a thriving urban core with Simon Fraser University Surrey, Surrey Memorial Hospital, shopping opportunities, and recreational attractions. Whalley/Surrey City Centre is now the region’s second downtown.
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