Bringing community pride and respect back to the streets of Newton.

The wonderful Jude Hannah of ReNewton Nation posted a blog post recently that has been picked up by the Surrey Now and run as a column: “Newton’s crisis is now an opportunity” . In her column, Jude speaks to the horror and outrage every Newton resident felt, and the small beginnings of hope and change that residents began to make happen for themselves, without waiting for anyone else to do it.

” However, amid all the sadness, frustration and acrimony of this dark time, a little ray of sunlight began to emerge in the Newton community. We realized we are just that – a community.

We came together and decided we weren’t going to allow some punk’s violent act define us. We are so much more than that.

Like many parts of Surrey, Newton is a neighbourhood undergoing changes. We are on the brink of creating a new and vibrant downtown core.

When you walk along 137th Street between Starbucks and the wave pool, past the Espresso Café and the ethnic grocery shops, you can see that this street and surrounding area has really good “bones.”

Great things are going to happen here in the next few years. In fact, if you frequent the places around the recreation centre and bus loop, you may have noticed neighbours getting together and creating happy, surprising and whimsical displays of hope, resilience – and most of all fun.

It is that vein I make a suggestion that I think might help honour and celebrate the spirit of what many of us know is wonderful and great about Newton, and what potential Newton has.

Last year, the city of Surrey held a combination Newton Community Festival in conjunction with their Open Doors initiative, where residents of Newton ( and all of Surrey) could take a trolley to various locations around the city to explore the many venues the city has to celebrate.

It was without a doubt, a successful festival,barring one point many people pointed out was a bit of downer : the location.

A large part of the festival was held in the back alley/parking lot located between the Newton ice rink and the mall right beside it. It worked… but it was a very visually undesirable location and instead of a feeling of pride, it felt rather shameful that Newton was relegated to a back alley/parking lot for a festival location, when others in the city are held on streets closed for such a purpose. ( Cloverdale does this every year)

It’s well-known that the pay parking on 137 st. in Newton has had an adverse impact on local businesses. Drive or walk the street as I recently did and you will see nothing but vacant parking spots and vacant rentals for businesses. We need to do something to revitalize that area. We need to bring people into it!!

Ironically, the city’s plan for Newton had included 137 st. as a location called Festival Street, for exactly that purpose: To hold events and festivals to bring people into that area!

It’s the perfect venue for a festival, with a wide street, angled parking spots and large sidewalks.

This is where a large part of the Newton Festival was held last year. It’s always dirty, always run down looking, always with plenty of garbage dumped. It is, what it is: a back allegy/parking lot meant for that purpose only. ( photo courtesy of Renewton Nation )

newtonalleyfestival

 

 

 

This is what the Newton Town Centre Plan, created by the city and delayed by the city, had envisioned for Newton’s troubled 137 st. :  Festival Street !!! ( photo courtesy of Renewton Nation )

newtonfestival

The city has been planning for this years Newton Festival, which is once again, being held in the parking lots in between and behind the Newton Rec Centre and the Ice Rink.

http://www.surrey.ca/culture-recreation/12921.aspx

With all that Newton has gone through in the last year, and with all the efforts local residents have made to fight for and create change in the area, it would be such an honour and show of good faith on the city of Surrey’s part, to host the festival on 137 st.,in the manner in which the city had originally intended that street to be used for.

I’ve spoken to several of the businesses along 137 st. and they welcome the idea of a festival along this area!!  And has been done in Cloverdale where festival venues were held on both sides of the very very busy Highway 10, there were signs directing festival goers across the highway safely at crosswalks. It was a win-win situation all around!

I sent this idea to the city of Surrey and it has been forwarded to festival organizers. It is not too late to change the location, since it is hosted by the city itself.

The community of Newton has shown tremendous interest and effort to make the community a safer, more inclusive, caring place for families and businesses alike.

Holding the Newton Community Festival on the street designed for that purpose honours everything, and everyone, that’s working to make Newton a place to be openly proud of. Time to take Newton out of the back alley and onto the main stage.

So you agree? Then come meet us in Midtown…. http://renewtonnation.blogspot.ca/2014/05/whats-in-name-meet-me-in-midtown.html

 


10 thoughts on “Bringing community pride and respect back to the streets of Newton.

  1. Peter

    Parking in that area has killed my friends hair salon. Some of her customers left the store to walk over to Save On Foods to find an $80 ticket on their cars. Their back lot has characters hiding in the bushes doing who know what. I won’t allow my daughter to exit the bus @ Newton Loop day or night. But don’t expect City Hall to do anything. They helped to cause this mess in the first place.
    There are too many ppl with mental and drug issues in the core and no place to put them.
    At least Julies alleged murderer has been found, but he is a repeat offender I believe. So let’s just recycle this one, too. (willE).

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  2. e.a.f.

    Pay parking will simply drive business out of an area which already has problems. Better the City remove pay parking until the area is doing the kind of business White Rock, Yaletown, and Gastown are doing. With so many vacant store fronts, it might be better of zoning permitted people to convert these spaces into “loft” style housing for artists, etc.

    A festival, closing off the streets might be a great idea. It would bring people into the area. Mental health problems aren’t going to go away. The provincial government simply isn’t going to spend the money and the taxpayers of Surrey won’t be willing to increase their taxes to pay for it either. A whole lot of more people would have to be murdered before that happened. What people can do is pressure B.C. Transit to have their police officers in the area 24/7, walking/biking a beat, This on its own may “encourage” professional criminals to move it along. Moving the problem along isn’t a solution, but if it gets moved to a wealthier neighbourhood, things will be done.

    Having more people in an area, who are not part of the problem sometimes can be the solution. thank you for sharing the article.

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  3. Sally

    Laila,
    Did city Hall create pay parking and allow crime to run rampant in Newton in hopes of driving good citizens out paving the way for gentrification and revitalization?

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  4. Mike

    Thank you for posting this Laila. Jude’s story is so heartwarming and speaks to all the common good so many of us share. Newton is the new Midtown and it is an important part of our City
    I hope our City politicians can take a time out and put their weight behind your suggestions. The time for excuses is over.

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  5. John

    Laila,

    I dont know which Newton festival you attended last year, but I really enjoyed the location. The back parking lot that you so negatively speak about was filled with local businesses exhibiting their services, as well as kids activities and a train connecting the different venues at the festival. With your suggestion of shutting down 137st for the festival would cause traffic issues that do not need be since the city has all that property available at the wave pool where they held the festival last year. What I recall the most was families smiling and enjoying themselves in that back parking lot, too bad you didnt show any pictures from the event, your article may have had some more credence to it. You have to understand it is not about the location but how people come together from different parts of the newton community and celebrate all things Newton together.

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    1. Laila

      You make some good points, but I have not been the only person to comment on this by far. The Blueberry festival doesn’t happen in a back alley parking lot. The Fusion festival doesn’t happen in a back alley parking lot, nor do a number of other small community festivals.

      Yes, people were having fun – my kids included – but the city always intended for 137th street to be Festival street and at this point in Newtons evolution it would be nice to see some civic pride shouting Newton is here!!! loud and proud. We shouldn’t be hiding our celebration in a back alley where the public can’t see it. We should be sharing it widely with all to see!! 🙂

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  6. Mosko

    I couldn’t believe it when Surrey put in pay parking at that location (and a few other streets). There are a lot of free options nearby, so why would anybody pay? It virtually guaranteed the street would stay empty and hurt the businesses directly beside the pay spots. Too many of these kinds of short-sighted ideas have been coming out of Surrey’s City Hall. There seems to be no thought given to what happens after the development applications have been approved, pay parking instituted or roads expanded or medians planted over with bushes that obscure vision. Why is NOBODY ever held accountable for these things? The hirings always include huge pay, severance and benefits to attract “the best and brightest”, but when things go wrong suddenly nobody has a name. This happens throughout all political regions and is disgraceful.

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