When they announced this project back in late 2008 (during the great credit crisis) I knew it was a pipe dream. Yet, I kept hearing from Surreyites that they will have the tallest building in the Lower Mainland. It was to be 70 floors, managed by Berezan Management. Frankly, I really don’t care, because a tall building is meaningless, if you want tall buildings move to Dubai. Moreover, I knew that this project would have a very difficult time getting financing and thus getting off the ground. Lets face it, why on earth would you live in a large tower in the park in Whalley? You move to Surrey for the cheap housing and big back yards.
High-level investors really don’t look at Surrey. I don’t know if you remember, but many years ago a similar dream was proposed by then Surrey mayor Doug McCallum. It was his vision to build the tallest tower in Canada, because that would somehow eliminate the negative perception of Surrey that the Lower Mainland, no rest of Canada has. 80 floor tower in Surrey = fail.
So I decided to talk to someone “in the know” and he assured me that this was nothing more then a publicity stunt by Mayor Watts and the developer. I can’t blame Watts for trying as she so badly wants to shed Surrey’s seedy reputation by promising its residents a brighter future, one with less violence and a more cohesive street network. I believe a brighter future exists but not to the extent she is pitching. It’s similar to what Gregor Robertson is doing with Vancouver and its green capital initiative, will Vancouver ever become the “Green Capital”, maybe. However, Vancouver is competes on a world scale whereas Surrey is barely a respectable player on a regional level.
Surrey needs to focus on becoming the dominant suburb. Right now it isn’t as I would give that nod to Burnaby or Richmond. They have industries and big time corporations. Surrey has a vacant call centre at Central City awaiting a new tenant. At the current pace of building downtown’ Surrey is at least 50 years away and if the last development boom is any indication it may be longer.
To put things into perspective currently Surrey has about 25 towers proposed for its “core”, many of which have been proposed for years but just couldn’t get off the ground for one reason or another. Approximately the same number proposed around BC place in the last year. How can the future be in Surrey when it is still playing catch-up with Richmond and Burnaby?