Sustainability in my city

Newton is one of the six town centres of the city in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada

Since I first came to Surrey, a few months back, I wasn’t sure I liked it. Then I realized that I felt the same about New Jersey when I moved there from India. It takes some time getting used to a place. The more I’ve gotten to know Surrey, the more it is growing on me. I like the climate, it is warmer than New Jersey. I get to visit Vancouver, the most beautiful city I’ve ever seen. Public transportation is back into my life, though I do miss driving. Top that up with the city’s desire to grow sustainably – caring for the environment and the people.

Surrey’s Sustainability Charter 2.0 has eight overlapping themes:

  1. Inclusion: A caring community that encourages a sense of belonging and access to opportunity for all Surrey residents to realize their full potential.
  2. Built environment and neighbourhoods: A beautiful, accessible and well-connected city of distinct and complete neighbourhoods that are walkable, engaging and resilient.
  3. Public Safety: A city in which all people live, work and play in a safe and engaging environment.
  4. Economic Prosperity and Livelihoods: Continued prosperity and thriving livelihoods and a strong, equitable and diverse economy.
  5. Ecosystems: Healthy, protected and well-maintained ecosystems and biodiversity.
  6. Education and Culture: Access to diverse, high quality learning opportunities, and vibrant arts, heritage and cultural experiences for all Surrey residents.
  7. Health and Wellness: A community in which all residents are healthy, active and connected.
  8. Infrastructure: Effective infrastructure and services that meet the current and future needs of the city, while protecting the natural environment and supporting urban growth.

It takes these high-level goals and sees what they look like at a neighborhood level through Newton: Sustainability in Action (NSIA), a neighbourhood-wide pilot project to engage residents in identifying ways to make Newton a more thriving, green, and inclusive community.

City of Surrey has made community engagement a part of everything they do. This makes newcomers like me so welcome and wanting to be a part of it all. When I went to the NSIA event, an electric vehicle in the parking lot caught my attention first. It was one of the 8 electric Nissan Leaf vehicles that the City operates as part of their Corporate vehicle fleet.

As I entered into the lobby, it was easy to notice the hustle and bustle, an unusual sight for the recreation centre’s entrance. The greeters invited me in and were glad I came in exclusively for the event. They walked me through the various activities I could take part in. A lot of volunteers made sure everyone had a chance to engage.

  • Adding your wishes to the Wishing Box for a sustainable Newton and a chance to win $100
  • Gallery walk of neighborhood action poster ideas
  • Conversation tables to chat about your ideas with others
  • Children’s’ activities
  • A light dinner to fuel your thoughts
  • Writing ideas on boards
  • An acitivity corner for public art. It was great see art being used to raise awareness and engage everyone.

I enjoyed being a part of this event and I look forward to see how ideas turn into action! What is your city doing to be sustainable? Comment below.



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