Surrey’s Community Climate Action Strategy: A big step towards sustainability

SurreyCityCentreDaytimeIn November, Surrey city council will be voting on the community climate action strategy, which aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to climate change.

What is the community climate action strategy?

The strategy consists of two plans: the community energy and emissions plan and the climate adaptation strategy. The plan is still in the draft stages, but City officials say they have been working closely with various organizations and members of the community to produce and edit the plan.

“We’ve had a lot of engagement with businesses and non-profits and so on throughout the process,” said sustainability manager Anna Mathewson. “We’re getting some minor edits and minor comments, but [the public is] generally very supportive of the draft.”

The community climate action strategy is one of the first major steps taken by the city since it became a signatory to B.C.’s Climate Action Charter in 2007.

In September 2008, Surrey city council adopted the Sustainability Charter, which set a framework for a “long-term 50-year vision for a sustainable city”.

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South Surrey residents all in favour of new Fergus Watershed Park

ImageThe City of Surrey is beginning the planning process for development of the Fergus Watershed Park, located near 168 Street and 14 Ave.

The Fergus Park master plan open house was held on October 22 at the Kensington Prairie community centre to get public input on the three concept plans which have been created for the park.

According Ted Ulrich, manager of parks, planning and design for the City of Surrey, the majority of respondents prefer option C, which has the highest level of trail development and disc golf. There were 35 attendants at the open house, of which Ulrich said all were supportive. 70 per cent said they support the vision for the park while 30 per cent said the vision could use some minor changes.

The recent open house was a follow-up to the first open house held on June 25.

The Fergus Watershed Park is one of eight parks planned for Surrey in the near future.  The parks committee discussed plans for the Pioneer Dog-Off-Leash Park at its last meeting on October 16.

Fergus Watershed park is currently undeveloped and contains mostly open meadow, forest and wetland areas. The city acquired the park in 2009 to protect the Fergus Creek headwaters, which are fish bearing.

“The primary focus of Fergus Watershed Park is habitat protection and enhancement,” said Ulrich. “The City would like to plan appropriate recreational activities that allow Surrey residents to enjoy the park without compromising the ecological attributes of the park.”

While no date has been set yet for developing the trails in the park, habitat rehabilitation projects have already begun. Implementation of the master plan will occur over several years.

For more information on the plan, or to view the three options, click this link. Any comments or questions about the park can be directed to Parks Planning at 604-501-5050 or email parksrecculture@surrey.ca.

Fraser Health program aims to fight mental illness in young people

Mental illness is a growing problem in Surrey, but there is a program that aims to treat mental health problems early on to potentially cure patients while they’re still young.

The Early Psychosis Intervention Program, or EPI for short, is a mental health outpatient treatment program offered by Fraser Health Authority that treats patients from ages 13 to 30.

“It’s more of just mental health follow-up. We have counseling, group classes, one-on-one counseling, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses, you can be followed up by a case manager, that type of thing,” said intake worker Sheryl, who wouldn’t give her last name.

The goal of the program is to treat mental health diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder while they are still in the early onset stages with hopes of curing the disease, allowing patients to live normal lives again.

With mental illness second only to drug addiction as the leading cause of crime in Surrey, programs such as these could potentially prevent large amounts of crime in future years.

For more information on the EPI program, click this link.

Bad news for Surrey medical grow-op owners

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New bylaw changes in Surrey will require medical marijuana growers to shut down their grow-ops and pay costly fees to bring their properties up to proper safety standards.

Property owners of medical grows are now required to pay for cleaning and/or restoration work to detect and prevent mold and other potential property damage.

Marijuana advocates say the bylaw is unfair, but some city officials disagree.

“I think it is fair,” said Surrey Coun. Barinder Rasode.

All of Surrey’s approximately 788 registered medical grow-ops are required to outsource their pot production to a licensed commercial grower and shut down their own grows by the end of April 2014. Complete remediation of the property must be completed at the owner’s expense within 6 months of the grow being shut down.

Growers are also facing an increase in the city’s fire safety inspection fee, from $4,038 to $5,263.

New Pioneer dog-off-leash park coming to South Surrey this year

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With dog owners making up 27 per cent of Surrey’s population, the need for more dog-off-leash parks is growing, but some dog owners need not worry, as plans are in motion for a new dog park in South Surrey.

The plans for the Pioneer Dog Park were unveiled by park planning and design manager Ted Ulrich at the Parks, Recreation and Sports Tourism Committee meeting on October 16. The new park will be located along the Pioneer Greenway at 34 Ave. and 150 St., just south of the newly-completed Pioneer Overpass.

“It’s not just about the dogs. It’s about dog owners,” said Ulrich. “When people go to dog-off-leash areas, they spend a lot of time socializing together.”

Ulrich says three quarters of Surrey dog owners visit a park regularly, with a third going every day.

“It’s not uncommon to see eight or more cars parked at any of the off-leash areas we have now.”

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“Neighborhood learning centres” coming to Surrey

A plan for B.C. community services set in motion over five years ago is finally taking effect in Surrey, transforming schools that are empty after classes finish into “neighborhood learning centres” outside of school hours.

The province first announced the neighborhood learning centre initiative in September 2008 with the vision of using schools to cater to the needs of their surrounding communities.

Principals familiar with their school’s community assess what sort of needs the people in the surrounding areas have.

“Each school community is different and principals know their little school community best and they know what that space is best suited for,” said Surrey school trustee Laurae McNally. “They may need it for daycare, dance, arts. Uses depend on their individual community.”

The first centre, a daycare, was added to the new Sunnyside Elementary in the Grandview Heights area of South Surrey in early September. Three more are planned to follow. One will be in Fraser Heights Secondary and the other two in new elementary schools opening in the beginning of 2014.

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