Surrey Tree Lighting Festival returning for its third year

TreeLightingFestivalLogoThe Christmas spirit is coming to Surrey once again. Nov. 23 marks the date of Surrey’s third annual Tree Lighting Festival at the Central City Mall.

The event will be hosted in the Central City Plaza by Mayor Dianne Watts and city council members along with Frosty the Snowman, Jack Frost and even Santa himself.

Fun for the whole family

Attractions include free concerts and dance performances, sleigh rides, ice carving, road hockey. Hot dogs, hot chocolate and even ferris wheel rides are available by donation.

Headlining the event will be singer, dancer and actor Victoria Duffield.

“It’s really about community and holiday spirit,” said Kim Heron, City of Surrey Marketing Coordinator. “People are excited to come back year after year.”

Heron said thanks to the support of sponsors, admission is free.

“We attract about 15,000 people over the course of the day to the tree lighting festival, so sponsors are excited to be a part of it,” said Heron. “Because of our sponsorship levels, we’re able to keep this festival fee for the public … so it makes it very community inclusive.”

There will be a free ‘Rudolph Trolley’ to transport attendants back and forth from the City Centre Library, where the Festival of Trees and Storyville events will be taking place.

The festival runs from 12 noon until 8 p.m. and the tree will be up until Jan. 6.

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‘Project SWOOP’ aiming to curb dangerous driving

Surrey RCMP are hitting the streets to crack down on risky driving behavior in Surrey’s streets.

Project SWOOP is a Surrey-wide day of enforcement and education, utilizing speed watch volunteers as well as police members from various agencies and auxiliaries. The goals are to educate, inform, prevent and enforce to reduce automobile crimes such as speeding and driving while on a cell phone.

“[Project SWOOP] targets drivers in all areas of Surrey, both in the morning and afternoon, to ensure we reach out to as many drivers as possible,” said Cpl. Bert Paquet.

Today wasn’t the first time the police have done this. June 25 was the last time the initiative was put into action and today won’t be the last.

“No dates have been scheduled yet, but we do see the benefits of this initiative in promoting road safety and plan on doing it again next year,” said Paquet. “Slow down and give yourself plenty of time to arrive to your destination, so you never find yourself in a hurry to get anywhere. The majority of accidents are the result of one or more wrong decisions. Make sure you make the safe one.”

Surrey businesses, residents display mixed emotion to food truck strategy

Food_Truck_in_City_CentreThe City of Surrey held an open house on Nov. 18 at the City Centre Library to discuss plans for a possible food truck program for the city.

The strategy is still in the early planning stages and hasn’t been voted on yet but the City is taking surveys from residents, businesses and food truck vendors to determine possible truck locations and get public input on any problems, issues or concerns about a food truck strategy.

“At this stage we’re just advertising that survey, marketing it to get the feedback of the general public, restaurant owners and operators and also food truck vendors to get their input about what the program should look like,” said project coordinator Sukhi Bahia. “[To determine] what are some of the issues we need to address moving forward so that we can have sort of a hea start on what those issues or problems may be and how to address them and mitigate them before we get going.” Continue reading

12 new police officers planned for in Surrey’s 2014 budget

LOCAL-NEWS-2-rcmp-logo2The City of Surrey’s finance committee will be meeting on Nov. 25 to discuss the 2014 budget proposal. The $763-million budget includes 12 new police officers and 5 additional support staff.

RCMP say they are still determining where the additional officers will be assigned.

“We are a fast growing community and any additional resources are a welcome addition, whatever the number of officers and staff,” said RCMP Cpl. Bert Paquet. “Their specific deployments and assignments would be decided in consultation with our crime analysts, team leaders and senior management, based on crime trends at that time.”

Karen Reid Sidhu, executive director of the Surrey Crime Prevention Society said she thinks the 12 new officers will be enough to meet the policing needs of the community.

“There are a number of community agencies that work together with the RCMP and I believe that the individuals who are making these decisions are capable of determining the resources needed for the city itself,” said Sidhu.

Though Paquet was uncertain as to which departments the officers would be delegated in the event that the budget was approved, he did identify general duty officers as being the top priority.

“Front line policing is always the first priority we address. This relates directly to General Duty officers that are on the road, responding to calls for service,” said Paquet. “Once we can confirm that our daily response levels are sufficient, we then look at other specialized or supporting sections. Our decisions are based on enhancing the safety of our community and its residents first.”

DC Fast Charge stations coming to Surrey

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Surrey opened up its first DC Fast Charge (DCFC) station for electric vehicles on Nov. 4.

The new station, located near the Surrey Museum in Cloverdale, just off 176 and 56A Ave, has the capability to fully charge an electric vehicle in approximately 30 minutes and is the first one of its kind south of the Fraser River.

Anna Mathewson, sustainability manager for the city of Surrey anticipates the station to be “quite busy.”

“We have already seen quite a bit of use at this Surrey Museum station, including drivers coming up from Washington state,” said Mathewson, who also pointed out the station’s strategic location. “It was located at the crossroads of Highways 10 and 15, in part to address the charging needs of travelers moving both north/south and east/west.”

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Seventh annual Surrey International Film Festival a success

After putting on workshops earlier this year to train amateurs how to make films, the Surrey International Film Festival took entries for this year’s event as diverse as homelessness groups and local high-school students.

With over 25 entries from eight different countries, this year’s festival was bigger than ever but festival organizers decided to try something new this year.

“A couple of the filmmakers this year have competed in the festival before,” said festival director Glen Chua. “Matthew Furtado has a film in this year, last year he won the Best Editing Award.”

The festival also took entries from a few people who attended the filmmaking workshops held at the City Centre Library. Entries include a public service announcement from the Homelessness and Housing Society as well as a documentary from the Surrey Museum.

The films were screened on Nov. 1 and awards given on Nov. 2.

For a list of the winners, click here.