Arts Spaces in Surrey Boost Regional Arts & Culture

Two City of Surrey arts venues are giving a boost to arts and culture for youth in Metro Vancouver. A refurbished auto garage is now home base for a theatre company and a hip hop group, and across the street a recreation centre wall is hosting innovative large scale digital art.

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“We are going to be… encouraging emerging artists, young artists and we’re going to ask them to speak with their own voices and build their own pieces and experiment” – Ellie King

Transformed through a $250,000 renovation, Parkway Studio has been overwhelmingly welcomed by its new tenants StreetRich Hip Hop Society and The Royal Canadian Theatre Company who, until now, had been operating without a home base. “Here, we have heat, we have light, we have access, we have up-and-over doors so, we can load our scenery in and out easily. We have bathrooms,” says Ellie King, Creative Director of The Royal Canadian Theatre Company.

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The 2500 square foot space allows the not-for-profit groups to spend more time focused on developing their craft and expanding their organizations and less time scrounging up funding. Ellie King, “We are going to be doing a studio series which we couldn’t do before and so that’s going to be encouraging emerging artists, young artists and we’re going to ask them to speak with their own voices and build their own pieces and experiment.”

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“StreetRich,” says co-founder Mattias Boon, “really wants to create this home for youth, through the artistic elements of hip hop culture help youth become themselves and build capacity.”

While each of the groups is based in Surrey they organize and participate in events throughout the region. The Royal Canadian Theatre Group tour their performances across the lower mainland.

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Another City of Surrey arts initiative is UrbanScreen, across the street at Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre.  It is Canada’s largest non-commercial outdoor projection screen. Projections are curated by the Surrey Art Gallery and can be viewed by the public evenings as soon as it’s dark.

King Tide Pics Offer Snapshot of Future Sea Levels

It’s December 8th and Vancouver is experiencing a King Tide — as the sun and moon’s gravitational forces come together to create some of the highest tides of the year. It’s also a preview of what we can expect if global temperatures, and sea levels, continue to rise. To better understand the future implications, the City of Vancouver has people taking pictures… in the name of science.

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Sea of Stories, a White Rock Play

A professional theatre group in White Rock has added a page to Greater Vancouver’s collective history books.  In ‘Sea of Stories,’ a teenager begrudgingly researches White Rock for a school project and discovers himself immersed in vignettes from different eras.

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The detailed costume of Seagod X’ya:s the Transformer was crafted by Semiahmoo First Nation member Roxanne Charles.

Peninsula Productions partnered with the City of White Rock to apply for a Canada 150 grant and the result was an original play with acting, singing, dancing, video and still projections, explained show producer Janet Ellis.

Artistic Director Wendy Bollard said the scriptwriting phase drew members of the community together. “People would sit around a table and start talking about things from the 1950s and it was very funny,  and different people would meet different people.” Play organizers also worked with members of Semiahmoo First Nation to weave their stories into the script.

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White Rock Pier in 1964.

Performer and assistant director Cory Haas says the play’s message goes beyond the borders of White Rock.  “It is a story of community building and people coming together  –and it’s musical, so there is singing and dancing that people love to come to!”


Lagoons Legacy in Port Coquitlam

The City of Port Coquitlam has made a significant contribution to the region’s wilderness areas by transforming two old sewage lagoons into a 27-acre park with ponds, marshes, meadows, forests and aquatic habitats.

“This is a migration path for birds. Having such a significant wetlands here in Metro Vancouver benefits our wildlife throughout the whole region,” said Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore while surveying the site in fall 2017.

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Mayor Greg Moore and Capital Projects Manager Lee-Anne Truong look over Blakeburn Lagoons Park site as in October 2017.  100,000 plants have since been added.

Located near Riverside Drive in northeast Port Coquitlam, Blakeburn Lagoons Park includes 1.6 kilometres of walking trails and four viewing platforms. Opening to public in spring 2018, it is a naturalistic design that was preferred by residents, compared to more recreation-focused plans presented at open houses and online.

Moore explained that city councils have long wanted to revitalize the sewage settling ponds that have been there since the 1950s. “A couple years ago we had the opportunity to apply for federal provincial cost sharing funds and that was really the tipping point for our council to make the decision to move forward.”

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Marine birds bob on the waters of Blakeburn Lagoons Park which features wetlands, meadows,  forest, and an aquatic  habitat.

To keep the ponds from drying out in summer, they are linked to storm water outflows, and some areas were excavated deep enough to connect with ground water, according to Manager of Capital Projects Lee-Anne Truong.  “In high rain events water will now go to the lagoon park rather backing up our storm sewer systems.”

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Moore has a personal connection with the site.  “I grew up in this neighbourhood, half a kilometre from here. This was all bushes behind all the houses around us.  It is a neat moment in time to be making this into an area that we can use again.”



Zero Waste Conference Keynote Brings Orbital Zero Waste Perspective to The Sustainable Region

Her experience as a scientist and NASA astronaut gave Dr. Cady Coleman an orbital perspective. Now she sees our blue planet’s possibilities with a unique and hopeful viewpoint. Sharing her insights and vision for a world where people work together to accelerate the transition to a circular economy, Coleman had a positive message for the audience at the 2017 edition of Metro Vancouver’s annual Zero Waste Conference.

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Improving Access to EV Charging in Multi-family Dwellings

Most electric vehicle charging takes place at home, which can be a challenge for apartment dwellers as multi-family buildings comprise about half the housing choices in the region. New bylaws and incentives are advancing EV charger requirements in multi-family dwellings in the region, such as the City of North Vancouver’s newly established guidelines.

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