Development & Land Use

The Surrey Board of Trade Development and Land Use Advocacy Team is tasked with educating Surrey Board of Trade Members and the development community about Surrey development issues and advocating for improvements in development processes and procedures.

The Development Land Use Team also liaises with the Surrey Development Advisory Committee of the City of Surrey.

Team members are tracking development in each of the town centres and preparing development advocacy issues.

For further information or to join, contact Policy & Research Manager, Jasroop Gosal.

Team Mandate

  • To understand and create a commentary on local, provincial, and federal land use and development proposals, projects, and plans.
  • To reduce red tape for development.
  • To encourage investment in Surrey.


Developers have an opportunity to present their projects for the Team’s review. Contact Jasroop to find out more.


Media Releases

View Media Articles

SBOT Red Tape Report & Development Industry Forum

The Surrey Board of Trade hosts an annual Development Industry Forum in partnership with the City of Surrey and others. The purpose is to explore how best to meet the growing needs of Surrey’s community while committing to achieve excellence in developing a walkable, liveable, and economically thriving city.

The Surrey Board of Trade implements a Red Tape Survey in advance of the Forum, the results of which are released during the event. SBOT tracks trends to monitor improvement in all governments’ efforts to reduce red tape. For more information on the Red Tape Report, contact Jasroop Gosal.


Watch the recording here 

Read the 2021 Red Tape Survey Report

2020 Red Tape Survey Report

Presentations from the 2020 Development Industry Forum:

Surrey and Development – Michael Geller

Purpose Driven Development – Carla Guerrera

2019 Annual Red Tape Survey Report

Presentation from 2019 Development Industry Forum:

Surrey and Development – Michael Geller


2018 Red Tape Report

Presentations from 2018 Development Forum:

Surrey and Development – Michael Geller

Surrey and Investment – Ozzie Jurock

Resources and Presentations

These are for information and do not necessarily reflect the official Surrey Board of Trade positions.

Policy Positions

The issue: Universal Building Designs

What’s it about: British Columbia has the opportunity to ensure that people with varying abilities are able to participate fully in the workforce. The more accessible a building is, the more likely people with varying abilities will patron that place of business and be able to work in the building itself. As of this moment, there are almost one-third of working-age adults with more severe disabilities who are living in poverty.1 The BC building codes must be updated to ensure that all future buildings are universally accessible so that people with disabilities are able to enter the workforce.

Read the full policy

The issue: Residential Rental Tenure Zoning

What it’s about: In the next 25 years, it is estimated one million new residents will move to Metro Vancouver. More housing choices are required in British Columbia in order to be economically competitive by attracting and keeping skilled workers. Housing choices that work best are those that meet the needs of various income levels and are located within a reasonable distance from employers. In 2018, the Provincial Government legislated the Residential Rental Tenure Zoning tool. The goal of the tool was to protect rental units, increase housing choices, and improve affordability for British Columbians, however, it fell short due to flawed implementation.

Little guidance and impact research from decision-makers allowed municipalities to interpret the tool in such a way that property has been devalued, reduced incentives to create homes, and infringed on property rights without adequate consultation with landowners.

Read the full policy

The issue: Revitalize the Fraser River Waterfront

What it’s about: The Fraser River is one of the most important water systems in British Columbia. It is currently being underutilized due to the lack of development of port cities along the banks of the Fraser River. There are many cities across Canada that have successfully revitalized their waterfront areas along major waterway systems such as Toronto1 and around the world2. The Board of Trade/Chamber network has an obligation to contribute to regional development and important projects that enhance livability. The revitalization of waterfront areas along the Fraser River will enhance tourism, can provide innovative transportation solutions, and increase housing supply and commercial space.

Read the full policy

The potential to unlock the cities along the Fraser River is as vast as the river itself. There needs to be a concerted effort from the various levels of government, business community, and community stakeholders to ensure that the economy continues to grow. Investment in communities yields the greatest results.


That the Provincial Government:

1. Work with municipal governments along the Fraser River, the Federal Government, Indigenous groups, the Fraser River Industrial Association, the private sector and other relevant stakeholders to develop a Fraser River Revitalization Working Group to create a revitalization roadmap; and

2. Create a comprehensive transportation plan that includes the use of electric hybrid boat transportation along the Fraser River to enhance tourism, reduce congestion, and meet provincial greenhouse gas reduction goals.

Submitted by the Surrey Board of Trade

The issue: PICS Diversity Village Development

What it’s about: On November 25th Roger Elmes, Progressive Intercultural Community Services President and Jack Hundal (RCMP)- presented the development plan for PICS Diversity Village at 176th St. and 64th Ave. in Cloverdale to the SBOT Development and Land Use Advocacy Team.



The growth in Surrey is requiring development in all aspects of housing including Senior’s beds. PICS is proposing a multicultural seniors village that can accommodate all Surrey residents and address their cultural and linguistic needs. The Diversity Village project will provide culturally sensitive Assisted Living where no one is excluded.

PICS is using the Resident directed care model – moving from assisted living to long term care to allow people to age in place without undue disruption. All facilities will be able to accommodate patients living with Dementia.


  1. Surrey is currently underserved in assisted living beds by 500 units.
  2. Surrey will require 1500 new seniors beds by 2039
  3. The Diversity Village proposal by PICS achieves the criteria for SBOT approval:

a.     Economic Benefit
b.     Enhanced Livability
c.     Community appropriate

Comparison with other jurisdictions:

It is estimated that Abbotsford currently requires 200 more Seniors’ beds and will require 400 more in 25 years.

Recommendation: The Surrey Board of Trade supports the PICS Diversity Village Project.

The issue: Expansion of the Inter-Municipal Business License Program

What it’s about: The Surrey Board of Trade and other metro Chambers’ and Boards of Trade are requesting that the current Inter-Municipal Business Licence (IMBL) program boundaries be extended to encompass the entire Lower Mainland. The request was made to City of Surrey Council in the Fall of 2016, along with other regional councils, as members surveyed indicated a strong support to merge the existing programs into one.


The Inter-Municipal Business License (IMBL) reduces red tape by allowing construction and trades-related businesses to operate in more than one municipality, rather than by obtaining non-resident licenses in each municipality in which they operate. Currently there are 11 mobile business license agreements in BC with 73 participating municipalities. In the Lower Mainland there are four programs: Fraser Valley, Metro West, North/West Vancouver, and Tri-cities. Several municipalities participate in more than one if they are conveniently located.

The Surrey Board of Trade recently participated in a survey distributed through 12 chambers and boards of trade, in partnership with BC Chamber, and representing a membership of over 13,000. Of those responding, more than 80% strongly indicated support for expansion into one convenient program extending from the North Shore through to Hope.

Construction and trades related businesses are able to purchase a license in one of the four programs; however, there are those who have clients in a second or third area necessitating additional coverage.

Further, the survey results indicated that over 40% of respondents throughout the region either were not aware of the IMBL program or had little knowledge of whether a license in another municipality is required if they are just “visiting” a client.

Recommendation: That the BC Government and Metro Vancouver cities:

  1. Develop and implement a Regional Inter-Municipal Business License program for the Lower Mainland
  2. Develop education and awareness strategies to ensure members are able to take advantage of the opportunities the program provides, and to ensure members are compliant with the various municipalities licensing requirements.

The issue: Coal transfer station at Fraser Surrey Docks

What it’s about: Fraser Surrey Docks (FSD) has been in business for over 50 years and is the largest multi-purpose terminal on North America’s west coast, handling over 250 deep-sea vessels annually with millions of tonnes of cargo, while employing 230 direct, full-time jobs in Surrey and contributing to the 4,000 jobs supported by Port


Metro Vancouver in the City of Surrey.

THE PROJECT: The project will transfer coal via Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) from the United States to barges at the facility, which will then be towed individually to a staging point off the mouth of the Fraser River, where they will be towed (in twos) to a storage and loading coal port on Texada Island in the Georgia Strait. The coal will then be loaded aboard deep-sea transporters for shipment to Asia.

EXPANDING ITS BUSINESS: Fraser Surrey Docks is seeking to grow its business and better utilize its capacity, contributing to the increased value of the Asia Pacific Gateway, to the growth of the economy of Surrey, the Lower Mainland, the Province of BC and Canada.  It is currently operating below its capacity and sees this as an important way to facilitate safe, efficient and environmentally sustainable ways to expand their offerings. This plan will see the train volume increase by only one train every other day in 2014 and once per day in 2015, well below the volume prior to the 2009/10 business down-turn. FSD, permitted to handle coal under its existing license, has applied for a permit to build a coal handling facility all within its current footprint of the FSD site. Here, it will receive full coal unit trains, unload them from bottom-dump rail cars into fully enclosed shallow pits, directly transferring the coal via covered conveyor belts to waiting barges.  There will be no coal storage on site under normal operations.

DUST MITIGATION: A top coating will be applied to the cargo in the rail cars, which has demonstrated an 85% reduction in dust.  This will be applied to assist in dust mitigation and the prevention of combustion. The coal will be profiled into a bread-loaf shape to further reduce any wind impact on the cargo. Unloaded rail cars will be sprayed inside the unloading shed to clean any remaining dust before being returned to service.
When loading directly from train to barge, the coal is moved through sealed water spraying systems to significantly reduce the potential for dust emissions. The water will then be captured, cleaned and reused in the cleaning system.
At the barge, an adjustable loading snorkel will reduce the coal drop height. The barge will have increased sidewalls. Coal will be loaded to a height below the sidewalls, low enough to minimize any wind loss. Further protocols will require the monitoring of weather, which in high wind conditions can result in shutdown. In addition, there are protocols to minimize train, construction and operations noise and extensive plans for both incident prevention and emergency response.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: Extensive professional reviews support FSD’s stated expectations for the project, and the depth of experience of their management and staff inspires further confidence.  The Surrey Board of Trade is satisfied that this initiative will function in a manner that meets all community standards and expectations, and therefore supports its implementation.

The result: Ongoing advocacy

The issue: Mobile Business Licenses

What it’s about: The municipal business licence has become one of the greatest obstacles to commerce where business activity crosses municipal boundaries, as happens frequently in the Greater Vancouver and the Fraser Valley regions. The requirement to buy a business licence for every municipality has resulted in large


numbers of operators buying one or two licences, or simply not buying any at all.

In the Metro Vancouver region, a number of cities including Surrey have been spearheading the drive to simplify doing business in this most complex of regions.

What are the benefits of a Mobile Business Licence?
All stakeholders benefit from a Mobile Business Licence:

  • For Businesses
  • For Local Governments
  • For Residents

What does a Mobile Business Licence look like?
There is some variation among different Mobile Business Licence Agreements between municipalities, which currently exist in the province, based on decisions made by participating local governments.  Typically, at the time of purchasing a basic business licence from their local government, the business also purchases a Mobile Business Licence, which allows it to operate in municipalities and regional districts that are participants to the Mobile Business Licence Agreement.

One such agreement is functioning in the Okanagan-Similkameen. Under this model, the cost of a Mobile Business Licence is $150.  The licence allows the mobile business to work in all nineteen participating municipalities and regional districts.  Local governments retain all revenue generated by the sale of Mobile Business Licences, and businesses remain responsible for complying with the bylaws of each municipality and regional district in which they operate.


The Province’s attempts to implement a provincial business license in 2006/7 were resisted by local governments which expressed the concern, through The Union of BC Municipalities in 2007 that such a plan would result in a loss of revenue, loss of autonomy and interference in their right to govern.

As a result the province turned to developing a single business license program in the Okanagan-Similkameen.  It is still in effect today.  An interim report said that the Mobile Business License “was cost effective and convenient …it had not increased the administrative workload and had increased revenue.”  The report went on to say that there was a strong uptake of the mobile license and an increase of more than 750 over the 2007 baseline.

Where they operate now:

There are a number of other jurisdictions that offer a mobile business licence.  These are:

  • Okanagan-Similkameen area:  Nineteen participating local governments – Armstrong,  Central Okanagan, Coldstream, Enderby, Kelowna, Keremeos, Lake Country, Village of Lumby, Oliver, Osoyoos, Peachland, Penticton, Princeton, Salmon Arm, Sicamous, Spallumcheen, Summerland, Vernon and West Kelowna.
  • Greater Victoria area (Capital Regional District):  Thirteen participating local governments – Central Saanich, Colwood, Esquimalt, Highlands, Langford, Metchosin, North Saanich, Oak Bay, Saanich, Sidney, Sooke, Victoria and View Royal.
  • Trail area:  Five participating local governments – Trail, Rossland, Warfield, Montrose and Fruitvale.
  • Cowichan Lake area: Four participating local governments – Duncan, North Cowichan,  Lake Cowichan and Ladysmith.
  • North/West Vancouver area:  Three participating local governments – City of North Vancouver, District of North Vancouver and District of West Vancouver.
  • Courtenay/Comox area:  Two participating local governments – Courtenay and Comox.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: The Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) supports the elimination of any impediments to inter-municipal commerce, expanding business opportunities, creating more jobs, and building the economy through increased business licensing compliance throughout the region. The SBOT is advocating that an Inter-Municipal Business License system be developed to allow Surrey businesses to operate freely across (but not necessarily restricted to) the Metro Vancouver/Lower Mainland region, and that the SBOT encourages and supports the City of Surrey to continue to pursue the streamlining and harmonization of inter-municipal licensing regulations, based on systems already functioning in various regions of BC.

The result: Ongoing advocacy to other municipalities. Surrey already in favour and preparing to participate in pilot program in the Metro Vancouver area.

The issue: Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy (land use – industrial land inventory)

What it’s about: Metro Vancouver has undertaken to update its regional growth strategy to the year 2040, estimating the anticipated population growth and the restrictions caused by geography and existing land use policies. This blueprint for land use over the next 30 years is intended to provide overall direction for the region as


it meets the demands placed upon it for dealing with demand for residential and industrial/commercial requirements while at the same time, providing transportation interconnectivity throughout the region. Certain flexibility needs to be built in to deal with unintended changes within the region enabling the region to deal with all the communities within the Regional District as well as with adjacent regional districts. As the Regional Growth Strategy, this plan should be paramount to all other plans (i.e., the top of the pyramid). All other sectional plans such as waste management, projected rapid transit routings, greenways strategy, should serve as inputs and be integrated into the regional growth strategy. The governance of the Regional District requires a consensus on the growth strategy amongst all the member municipalities. Having consensus is a good thing when a strong plan can be agreed upon. However, requiring a consensus can be detrimental to the final outcome of a strategy if there has been ‘too much’ comprise needed in order to achieve consensus. As a business organization with many members, we recognize this challenge but believe the governance is manageable. Unfortunately it does not appear that there is too much compromise in respect of the November 2009 version of the proposed Regional Growth Strategy in order to obtain a concensus of support. Although the goals are laudable and well worth pursuing as part of the overall direction of regional land usage, there are several elements missing which weaken the overall strategy. The following outlines our concerns and suggestions for improving on the document presently being debated.

What the Surrey Board of Trade did: In partnership with all Metro Chambers/Boards of Trade, we submitted a detailed recommendation letter to Metro Vancouver.
Economic Development

One of the five goals requires that the region ‘Support a Sustainable Economy’. Although the need to increase market-ready industrial land is addressed to some extent, the balance of the goal is focused on increasing actively farmed land. Little attention is paid to economic structure and development. Further development is needed to address the economic issues faced by the residents and businesses in the region. Addressing the economic well-being of the region and its residents is also important to the prosperity of all elements of the region (residents and businesses alike). Some additional areas that should be addressed in the strategy include:

Support and maintenance of a diverse industrial base to strengthen the resilience of the region’s economy as well as service its diverse needs locally.
Encourage all forms of economic development such that it will help to foster and sustain  the growth of well-paying jobs, viable businesses and household incomes.
Recognize and support the region’s role as a key component in Canada’s Pacific Gateway.
Absence of a regional economic development approach that is all encompassing will make it more difficult to develop a proper land use plan and hence affect any regional growth strategies.  One step taken in the right direction is the nascent Metro Vancouver Commerce which provided a platform for regional economic development strategies regarding attracting new businesses to the region during the Olympic Games.


Another of the goals calls for the support of sustainable transportation choices. Attention is paid to transit, including a frequent transit network, and an emphasis on people moving via walking, cycling and transit. Little attention is paid to the moving of goods and services which provide a vital link to the region’s economy. Nor is there any real discussion of the most prominent mode of transportation, the car, which remains the most frequent form of transportation in the region, in part due to land use decisions over the years and the lack of coordination respecting the location of residential developments.

TransLink is presently conducting an examination of potential rapid transit routes in the region, which are not addressed in the regional growth strategy. Another transportation element which has not been addressed is the potential of a regional policy which could also address the lack of park-and-ride facilities near the SkyTrain stations or on rapid transit routes which could potentially increase transit usage.

Another element not addressed is the preservation of transportation corridors so that they are available for the expansion of transit/passenger rail networks as growth continues in the region. Also, major transportation corridor projects in the region are missing. In fact, any maps denoting the transportation corridors have been removed from the latest version of the Regional Growth Strategy. Such important information should be included in the document so those who use it for planning purposes can make better informed decisions on industrial and residential land use.

Major regional commercial routes also need to be properly identified and protected so that goods and services movements can be maximized. One example is the provision of ‘marshalling yards’ for construction vehicles. Positioning these yards too far outside major centres leads to increased traffic, longer road trips and therefore increased emissions.

As a final point, it must be recognized that multiple careers and two or more working family members, provides a ‘pick-up-sticks’ travel pattern in the region. (i.e. there are multiple travel patterns in the region related to where people work and live increasing the difficulty of providing transit services). Changes to these travel patterns cannot be forced through specific land use policies. It also has negative impacts on transit planning which needs densification and flexibility to deal with regional changes of land use.

Land Use:

In reviewing the Regional Growth Strategy, we recognize its intent of having a sustainable region. Sustainability, however, goes beyond environmental sustainability. It must also deal with economic sustainability and the capacity of the region to absorb population growth. There is some discussion of the need to preserve industrial land and to discourage the locating of mixed-use facilities on industrial land. The intent is to encourage companies to locate in town centres. Economics sometimes dictates that locating office and mixed-use facilities in industrial land areas makes the most sense. We agree with the need to preserve industrial land. However, a proper examination of the land presently designated for industrial use needs to be undertaken to determine if indeed, it is useable land for development. Another factor to be addressed is the need for some industries to cluster together. This may require specific allocation of land to meet such a need. As mentioned earlier, land also needs to be set aside for the preservation of transportation corridors. Still another area for examination is the need to preserve lands for gateway capacity, including land accessible to marine and rail, as well as road networks. Another area needing to be discussed is urban agriculture. How would this fit in with the overall land use plan and growth strategy? In addition, where does the green space allocation fit into the plan?


Other commentary needs to be made on points that do not necessarily fit into the other areas mentioned. They include:

  • The present document seems to deal more with the preservation of the status quo rather than advancing new thoughts.
  • This plan requires the integration of several other plans such as rapid transit study, greenways, gateway development and waste management plans to make it more effective.
  • There is a lack of framework/template for evaluating risk in all plans impacting the growth strategy.
  • There is no mention of performance measures to determine if the plan is being implemented properly.
  • Urban containment can put pressure on housing prices. Factors that need to be considered include infill housing and corridor development between centres.
  • Greenhouse gas targets adopted in the draft plan are those of the province. Is it realistic to expect Metro Vancouver to achieve the exact same goals where we might meet provincial targets but not necessarily the same levels in our region?


Based on the analysis of the November 2009 Draft Regional Growth Strategy and the concerns indicated in this document, we would make the following recommendations:

  • Despite knowing it has taken some time to put the Regional Growth Strategy together, it is important to include information contained in several other key documents that are just being completed or will be completed shortly. These include but are not limited to: rapid transit study, greenways, gateway development and waste management plans.
  • Development of performance measures to be used in measuring how well the plan has been put into effect.
  • Inclusion of a more comprehensive view of economic sustainability of the region, including prosperity of residents and businesses.
  • Inclusion of transportation corridor preservation and urban agriculture.
  • Inclusion of a framework/template for examining the risk analysis and multi-criteria analyses, as well as transparency of financial projections applied to all plans that impact the Regional Growth Strategy.
  • Metro Vancouver should convene a Business Advisory council as part of the process to obtain input from the business community regarding the plan.

The result: The recommendations were received by Metro Vancouver. Ongoing observation and advocacy.