As Surrey continues to grow rapidly, the city’s issues become more and more apparent, leaving the community and the local government to try and catch up.
Surrey is currently the second largest city population-wise in British Columbia, with projections to surpass the city of Vancouver’s population significantly in the next two-three decades.
Surrey has been tagged with several issues, especially in the last couple years, again, due to the significant rise in population.
EDUCATION AND LACK OF SCHOOLS
One of the biggest issues of the city yet to be addressed by the provincial government is the lack of schools and educational institutions, particularly, elementary schools.
In a CBC article, it highlights that Surrey’s school district is expected to accommodate 1,000 new students, including 300 Syrian refugees.
The problem in trying to accommodate for those new students is the overcrowding in most of the high-populated areas that hosts several new and young families.
“So many elementary schools are overcapacity and their waiting lists are super long,” said Ally Bejer, a resident in Surrey and recent graduate from Fleetwood Park Secondary School.
The main issue stems in large part to the population shift into and out of Vancouver and the expensive, unaffordable real estate. Families, particularly younger ones, are moving to suburbs, smaller homes and areas that are much more affordable.
With lack of Vancouver’s enrolment and now facing the issue of possible school closures, the demand increases in the city of Surrey as more and more families are making their way across the river.
Residents can no longer accept their children learning in portables and being distracted in crowded classrooms; the attention between student and teacher significantly decreases.
Back in May, B.C premier announced at a news conference that they would commit approximately $74.2 million in construction projects to address the issue of overcrowding.
“I think we’re just going to have to find a new way of making sure that there are seats for when the kids arrive rather than some of the way we seem to be doing it now, which seems to be a little bit after the fact,” she said.
GANG VIOLENCE AND SHOOTINGS
Another hot issue that has plagued Surrey neighborhoods is the rate of violence, murders and shootings.
In a CTV posting, they accumulated and constantly update a map of the shootings in 2016.
Surrey resident, Justin Manaois, highlighted one of the factors in the rise and consistency in violence in the city.
“Drug territory wars between East Indian gangs and Somali gangs are the reasons for a high rate of violence,” he said.
Manaois mentioned that all types of drugs are involved, however, marijuana is the biggest hook.
In regards to the map mentioned above, Whalley/Surrey Central is the area that has experienced the most shootings. Manaois also highlighted Newton and Sur-Del next as two of the most dangerous parts in Surrey.
“There was a lack of law enforcement in those areas, which allowed for a high rate of violence. Right now, they’re doing a bit more watching and that alone will affect them from operating like they were before,” he said.
“It’s not safe considering that innocent bystanders, their homes and properties get caught in the crossfire. All of these shootings are happening right on the streets of the suburbs,” he said.
Many news pieces involving the city of Surrey are about the deaths of young adults, and according to Danilo Jose de Joya, a student at Fleetwood Park Secondary School, it started all in their youth, and has seen it first hand.
“They have so much negative influence around them, such as gangs and drug dealers,” he said. “It also depends on where they live in the city.”
He believes that there is a simple solution for youth at risk to prevent them from being influenced into the life of crime.
“I think it could be fixed if we had more places where youth could seek help and advice from professionals aside from just like a school counselor,” he said.
TRANSIT, TRAFFIC AND BAD DRIVING
With the city’s quick rise in population and urbanization, Surrey’s transit and transportation has also been largely affected.
The 320 and 502 lines run from Langley Centre to Surrey Central Station, running past the major points throughout the city.
De Joya mentions if he had the power to make change, he’d strive for more buses, less time between buses arriving at the stop, or express routes significantly focusing on a part of the area.
Surrey also faces problems in regards to car accidents and drivers getting themselves into trouble with the law.
“There are a lot of bad roads and drivers flooring it through yellow lights or driving way too fast,” said Bejer.
“I suggest putting in more cameras at stoplights to catch unlawful drivers,” she said.
Bejer also mentioned that bus drivers feel entitled on the road; “one time this guy literally stopped the bus to get a Starbucks drink like two stops before the mall and so all the cars behind us had to go around,” she said.