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Surrey Reduces Carbon Footprint and Demonstrates Leadership in Sustainability

May 30, 2011

Surrey – The City of Surrey continues to reduce its carbon footprint, increase energy efficiency and solidify itself as a leader in the application of innovative and sustainable programs and initiatives, according the new Sustainability Charter Progress Report which will be unveiled at tonight’s Council meeting.


“In partnership with our community stakeholders, we’ve made considerable progress in achieving the goals we set out in our Sustainability Charter,” says Mayor Dianne Watts.  “We’re reducing waste and carbon emissions, introducing alternative energy sources and adopting innovative green policies.  We’re committed to creating healthier communities by ensuring that we consider the social, cultural, economic and environmental impacts of everything we do.”


In September 2008, Council unanimously adopted the Sustainability Charter, a comprehensive framework for implementing a progressive 50-year vision for a sustainable city. The Charter was developed in collaboration with residents, stakeholders, staff and Council and contains 56 action items. 


“Our Sustainability Charter is policy framework that guides every decision we make as a City.  It’s about making the right choices, doing the right things and taking concrete actions to advance sustainability in our operations and in our community.”


Highlights from the Sustainability Charter Progress Report include:


Corporate Leadership: 

  • A Sustainability Office has been established at City Hall
  • A corporate energy and greenhouse gas (GHG) inventory has been completed

  • A Corporate Emissions Action Plan has been developed and energy efficiency measures have been implemented, including building retrofits and green fleet initiatives

  • Solid waste has been reduced and an organics waste collection system has been introduced

 Community Action:

  • 87 sustainability indicators and performance targets were developed and are being used to measure progress and pursue specific outcomes

  • The City’s Five Year (2011-2015) Financial Plan has been developed around the three pillars of sustainability:  Economic, Environment, and Socio-Cultural

Actions Under the Three Pillars of Sustainability:


1. Economic

  •  The Economic Investment Action Plan, Build Surrey Program and Clean Energy Action Plan were developed to create jobs, attract investment and enhance livability

  • The annual Surrey Regional Economic Summit is the most significant economic conference of its kind in B.C. and has helped to brand Surrey as a leader in business

  • The City supports local farming and food security and raises public awareness of foods grown and/or produced in Surrey 

2. Environment 

  • A Community Energy Manager was hired to develop energy and emissions reduction projects with an emphasis on developing district energy systems

  • A community emissions reduction target of 33 per cent has been included in the Official Community Plan

  • The City has become a Solar Community under the SolarBC Program

  • The City helped sponsor Climate Smart training for businesses and climate workshops in 33 elementary schools in Surrey

  • Waste reduction programs have been introduced including a pilot organics waste collection program for residents and an organics waste collection program in civic facilities

  • The City acquired 110 acres of new park land in 2009/2010, and planted over 15,000 new trees

  • The City revised standards for sustainable green infrastructure in private and public development, completed the Ecosystem Management Study and began implementing a Green Network Plan of walking and cycling paths

  • The City is currently developing 29 km of pedestrian and cycling pathways, 28 km of park paths and 92 km of on-street bike lanes.  The Safer Schools Program and has achieved up to 28% improvements in children walking and cycling to and from schools

  • The community supports various City events such as the Party for the Planet, Canada Day, Fusion Festival, Surrey Nature Centre at Green Timbers, the Environmental Extravaganza, the Surrey Natural Areas Partnership, and the Surrey Youth Stewardship Squad

3. Socio-Cultural 

  • The City has played a leadership role to address complex social issues such as homelessness, crime, elder abuse, and the settlement of government of assisted refugees

  • The City has made significant investments in new and enhanced recreation and library programs

  • The City introduced an innovative Child and Youth Friendly City Strategy which includes 96 recommendations on how to engage young people in civic issues, create imaginative play areas and promote healthy activities and fitness

  • The City established the Surrey Homelessness and Housing Society and has contributed close to $10 million to the Society

  • The City implemented an innovative Crime Reduction Strategy which includes over 100 recommendations on how to reduce crime and enhance public safety

  • The City has completed many arts and cultural initiatives including new arts facilities, public art displays, the Surrey Art Screen project, and the Earth = Home exhibition at the Art Gallery

  • The City introduced many beautification initiatives including new street banners, graffiti removal programs, decorative lighting and neighbourhood signage.  The City also launched a Community Enhancement Partnership Program to encourage residents to undertake neighbourhood beautification projects and activities

The City will continue to implement innovative sustainable programs and initiatives in 2011, including:

  •  Staff will be working with the community to develop a Community Energy & Emissions Plan (CEEP) to addresses GHG reduction targets that go beyond the City’s own operations

  • A Climate Adaptation Strategy will be developed to reduce risks associated with climate change including infrastructure management (caused by rising sea levels and increased precipitation), heat exposure, emergency response, farming, local ecosystems and vegetation, population movements and impacts of vector-borne diseases

  • Staff will work with the UBC Design Centre for Sustainability to uncover opportunities for growing more food in older residential neighbourhoods, and reducing GHG emissions from older buildings and transportation sources

  • Staff will assess opportunities for developing a local sustainable food system that will look to broaden opportunities for local growing, local processing and local distribution of food in Surrey including appropriate marketing and celebration

  • Staff is developing an online “Sustainability Dashboard” that will provide an engaging interface for reporting on the City’s sustainability indicators and targets

  • Elements of the City’s innovative Ecosystem Management Study will be integrated into the Official Community Plan and will be used to develop a Biodiversity Strategy

  • Staff is updating the City’s Official Community Plan, developing a rapid transit plan and preparing neighbourhood plans for the West Clayton, Grandview Heights and South Port Kells areas which will include sustainable planning and design 

For additional information please see Surrey’s Sustainability Charter. 


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Media Contact:


Tara Foslien

Senior Communications Specialist

Office of the Mayor