Meet the Mayor: Linda Hepner of Surrey

As one of the fastest-growing cities in Canada, Mayor Linda Hepner has big plans for her city. With a population that’s expected to become the largest city in BC by 2041 and one-third of the population under the age of 20, Surrey is in a race to provide jobs, resources, and residences for their future workforce.

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Hepner shared with us at our last Breakfast Event that she is driving “a culture of innovation”. And it’s working. Last year the City of Surrey was named as one of the Top 7 Intelligent Communities of 2015 by New York-based think tank Intelligent Community Forum. By investing in technology and innovation to foster economic growth, Hepner feels the city will be able to create social and cultural opportunities. She’s also introduced five film studios to appeal to BC’s booming film industry.

There are currently four districts in the City of Surrey: the Financial District, the University District, the Innovation District, and the Government District. And unlike other municipalities the Greater Vancouver Area, there is still a significant amount of land that can be developed – another initiative that remains high on her priority list. She’s introduced a “Nexus program” to fast track developers to start building, and developers have taken notice. Some noteworthy projects that have been recently approved are the $126 million Simon Fraser University Expansion and the Campbell Heights, which has over 1900 acres dedicated to primarily industrial development.

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Mayor Hepner with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Christy Clark at the SFU President Andrew Petter at the announcement of the SFU Surrey expansion [source]

With such rapid growth, the city’s transit system has becoming a growing concern for residents. That’s why the $2-billion transit plan that was just approved in November is a huge win for the new Mayor. The plan would include a third light rapid transit line connecting Surrey and Langley, as well as introduce mobility pricing on the region’s roads as a revenue source. In addition, road, cycling, and pedestrian infrastructure would also be emplaced.

When asked about what she feels her greatest accomplishment is so far in The Province last month, Mayor Hepner replied: “I think I would say that the momentum that we’ve been able to achieve relative to the transformation of this city and to keep that reputation and build that reputation of being a city of innovation and a smart city, at the same time tackling all of the other issues.”

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