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Design of commercial areas important for building a sustainable Surrey

A few weeks ago, I was at a conference at UBC. One of the speakers, Dr. Larry Franks, presented on the emergent research into communities and built form. For awhile now, we’ve known that building a variety of housing stock such as row-houses and apartments are an important part of building a sustainable community that can support a diversity of transportation options. Even in places like Surrey, most people do not live in single-family housing. What’s surprising is that while much research has been done on the connection between housing, sustainability, and transportation (the supply side), not as much research has been done on the effects of the built form of our travel destinations. Dr. Frank research, though at a very earlier stage, seems to point to the design of the destinations of our trips (shops, schools, offices) are more important than the design of our origins.

Scott Rd. From

Morgan Crossing (South Surrey)

When I look at Surrey, for the most part, good things are happening on the supply side. Every year there are more varieties of housing choices. When I look at the shops and offices in Surrey, it’s another story. The vast majority of it is auto-oriented. If Dr. Franks research proves to be true, Surrey will need to focus heavily on building people-oriented commercial areas. One the bright side it is way easier to redevelop a commercial area, especially an auto-oriented one, than it is to retool an established residential neighbourhood.


  1. Erik

    I could agree more with this. Surrey needs walkable shopping areas. Surrey also needs offices to bring in white collar higher end work.

  2. Chris

    One more problem is that the gougers and greedy landlords in Surrey have priced out all the independant shops, so all you see is the same stores on every strip mall. Mostly big box names or USA stores. This is pathetic!