#DYK That we need to #GrowSFUSurrey

Education funding? Hello?

Did You Know?

Both Surrey and Simon Fraser University are growing in population, but the campus size is staying the same. As semesters go by, it is becoming more difficult for students to find places to study at school, get into their desired classes, or even be able to stay at the campus that is closest to their home– the case for the thousands of Surrey students who are forced to make the commute to Burnaby Mountain or even the Downtown Vancouver Campus. We want Surrey students of now and the future to spend less time travelling, and more time studying and enjoying their university experience. Not only that, but Surrey Campus lacks an appropriate fitness facility for students, and residence for those coming out of town are nonexistent. This means students who are exclusively located at Surrey Campus but also need residence, have to commute from Burnaby Mountain to Surrey every day.

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Healthy, wealthy, wise … and walkable

Everyone benefits from having a neighbourhood where people walk. It’s been proven over and over. And yet, we continue the practice of haphazard infilling with no regard for how it fits in with the neighbourhood.
Surrey, we need to do better: make decisions that we can feel good about in 5-10- 20 years. The consequences of poor planning are being realized now and it’s not pretty. We need to do a 180′ turn.
Let’s look at what makes other communities appealing. Then do “that”.

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From road.cc:


Cities where people walk and cycle are healthier… and richer


Cities with more physically active residents are financially healthier too, a study has found, with benefits being higher property values, economic productivity levels and school performance.

Where walking, cycling and public transport are prevalent, the University of California study has found, there is a return of £13 for every £1 invested in these projects.

Benefits for the cities include more trade for local shops, less traffic congestion and reduced pollution. Workers are more productive too, taking on average a week less off work per year.

Chad Spoon, from the University of California’s Active Living research unit, said: “A city’s ability to compete depends on an active population. The research is clear on this – it shows how an active city can be a low-cost, high-return investment.”

The paper also suggests opening more parks and open spaces; providing…

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Reaping What We Sow. Lessons From My Garden. Truths about My City.

Last night we had another drive-by shooting in my neighbourhood. How many does that make?  I’ve stopped counting. That’s how many. It’s over 30, I know that much.

As I ponder the latest incident, I  look at my  backyard and see the similarities.

A decade ago I purchased  a container of wild flower seed mix from  our local Costco.  The photo on the front promised  a variety of pretty blossoms and blooms.  The seeds were sprinkled on a  garden plot that already had some  tried and true lovely shrubs and perennial favourites of mine. Neighbours  who had bought the same seed blend a few years earlier  told me that their experience wasn’t one they’d recommend and encouraged me to  put in fewer plants  and ones that were slower to grow . It was a small space after all.

I dismissed their concerns as an over reaction.

Over time the  wild flower mix sprouted and grew, but soon it  become clear that the results weren’t what I’d hoped  for. The Morning Glory, one of 12 varieties of seeds in the batch was running amok. It was overtaking the other older and more established plants. It began creeping up the trunks of shrubs and bushes that for years had grown strong and unfettered.  It was like a cancer that couldn’t be contained. An invasion that couldn’t be stopped.

After a  while, nothing good remained, save the Morning Glory, choking everything in its path. morning glory2

It spread and spread and destroyed everything good in my garden. I guess I should have nipped it in the bud, but I was focussed on other things at the time. Constructing a new patio and working on a major kitchen renovation were at the top of mind during that time. Before I knew it, the Morning Glory  (really a weed)  was unstoppable.  Now it’s everywhere and has spread over the fence and into my neighbours’ yards as well. I try to pull out what I can, but it’s been left unchecked for  so long I don’t know if it will ever be controlled. If only I’d  been  more diligent. If only I’d heeded the warnings of those who knew better than me.  If only I’d removed this menace as soon as I  saw it beginning to take root.  Sure would’ve saved myself a lot of time, aggravation and money if I’d only paid attention to the problem when it first reared its ugly head.

Now  I am  literally reaping what I sowed.

And so it is with many facets of our complicated  lives. When will we learn that preventing problems  from taking root is the smarter choice; that paying attention at the first sign of trouble is a no brainer.  That in the end, the best decision isn’t to ignore troubles but to anticipate and address them as they appear.   Environmental, poverty, and crime issues  can often  be predicted  and dealt with long before they reach a crisis point.  That’s where we are now. At the tipping point.

As for me and my garden, I should have listened and acted long before I did.  In the end, my garden would be healthier, prettier and more welcoming  if only I’d paid more  attention.

Burrard Bridge: Have we learned anything from experience?

Time for the automobile to take a back seat to more people-centric modes of transportation. Cities were meant for people, not cars.

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“Cue the howling,” notes Ohrn, anticipating the media coverage and accompanying comments to the Burrard Bridge announcement, below.

Do we have to go through this every time?  No matter how many times the city reallocates road space (miniparks in the 1970s and 80s, bike lanes in the 90s and 2000s),  no matter how many controversies (Hornby Street,  Burrard Bridge, Point Grey Road, the Viaducts), the pattern is the same: predictions of Carmaggedon, attacks on council and staff, calls for more process, lengthy public meetings, approval and construction – and then nothing.  Maybe a week of adjustment, and life goes on.

A few years later, the data confirms what the engineers had predicted: sufficient existing capacity, some mitigation, improved road design, more use of other modes means little negative impact on vehicle flows – and in some cases actual improvements.

Best of all, the city moves forward on the goals that every council…

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Yosef Gopaul convicted in Death of ‘Hockey Mom’ Julie Paskall

This morning at the  Surrey courthouse Yosef Gopaul pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of  Surrey’s “Hockey Mom” Julie Paskall.  Julie was attacked on the evening of Dec 29, 2013 in the parking lot of the Newton Arena in Surrey, BC. The  attack and subsequent death of Julie on New Year’s Eve  sent shock waves throughout the city and around the world.

  Today Judge Dohm sentenced Mr. Gopaul to 10 years for the crime against Julie Paskall and 2 years for an attack and robbery two weeks prior to Paskall’s on Dec 16 2013, an  event that injured a young woman both physically and psychologically. That victim was present in court but chose not to speak.

With time already served, Mr. Gopaul will spend a total of 10 and one half  years in custody.

 Heartbreaking victim impact statements were read by Julie’s husband Al Paskall, daughters Rhiannon and Stacey, sister-in-law Joan Ross on behalf of her husband  and Julie’s brother Martin, plus one of  Julie’s cousins. Many in the gallery  were seen weeping over  how this  sad and senseless act  devastated a family and rocked a community to its core.

Gopaul read a statement and expressed remorse over his actions that led to the death of Mrs. Paskall.

In the end, nothing brings this beautiful woman back.

No sentence, no apology, no tears of remorse. Nothing.

And that  breaks my heart.

Why hasn’t the housing dilemma become a political issue?

It seems ludicrous that the average family can’t afford to buy a house in the city where they grew up.

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The Globe and Mail‘s Vancouver real-estate writer, Kerry Gold, has been doing some of the best analysis on our housing dilemma, notably in her most recent column, based on an SFU Urban Studies forum:

Some wonder if it’s time Vancouver acts to slow foreign buyers


If a city defines itself as interdependent communities that are connected, funded and guided by a taxpaying base of businesses and full-time residents, then Vancouverites are now finding themselves on the sidelines.

They’re often not even on the radar of real estate marketers, especially where purchases of high-end properties or bulk-sale condo presales or land assemblies are concerned. Those high-stakes buys drive the market from the top down, pushing prices up across the entire region. And yet a good many of those purchases are made by the mysterious international investor, a nebulous “other” who has all this power and yet so much anonymity…

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