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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

“This is my favourite street in Surrey”

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Central Parkway in Whalley connects buses with the skytrain.

“This is my favourite street in Surrey,” my wife said as we turned onto Central Parkway, the street the Surrey Central Skytrain station is on.

I nearly laughed out loud.

We’ve only been living in Surrey for a few months. I grew up close to here, although I haven’t lived here for over 20 years. My internal map of this street is informed by all those memories (lo these many years) of a rather sketchy bus loop. Not to mention all the bad press, especially in the 1980s of Whalley gangs who’d harass innocent bus passengers (never mind they were really high school kids looking for a handout). But my wife is a migrant to the coast from Montreal. To her this is all new.

And so is this street, really a stub of 135 Street, now called Central Parkway. The new Surrey Central library is half-a-block away, next to the recreation centre and there’s a gaping hole just in front where the new city hall will be planted. SFU Surrey is at one end, with it’s own wide plaza. And at the other end? Well, maybe that will get a coat of paint soon too.

Why would this short boulevard be her favourite street? Here’s why:

Central Parkway looking North. Notice the patterning on the sidewalk giving visual interest. The planters punctuate the line of the sidewalk. They're well-maintained. On a people-management side there aren't any benches on the street. That keeps those punks movin'.

The sidewalks are bricked. They’re wide and spacious. There are planters that are nicely maintained. The street itself is bisected by bricked-in sidewalks. It ends in a nice little division at the South end, near the SFU and mall entrance, with trees dividing the entrance and exit.

The trees on the sidwalk are mature enough to help hide (or frame) the commercial buildings. They’re some kind of deciduous, so it won’t be as picturesque in the winter, but the leaves are small and frondy, giving a slightly different air to this street than if it were framed by, say, chestnut trees. Not that those wouldn’t be nice.

Central Parkway has different shapes, with an island bisecting it at the Southern end. Note the sidewalk is brick, wider than normal. The deciduous tree is a little unusual too.

It doesn’t hurt that speed limit is 30 km/h, allowing the casual visitor in a car time to absorb (if only subconsciously) the efforts that went into making Central Parkway a decently-designed pedestrian-friendly boulevard – one that will in the near future be the civic hub of Surrey.

In other words, it’s a combination of overall planning of a wide boulevard — the big space — with details like brickwork — the small spaces. It looks planned. And that makes all the difference.

Central Parkway: a nice short street.





Born and raised in Surrey, Don Schuetze has returned to the land of his youth after about a quarter of a century elsewhere. But do you ever really leave? Don works for a media company in Vancouver as a production hack, schlepping together print and online products. Reach him through his half-done site which is all about, wait for it… Surrey.


One comment

  1. I agree with your wife. Though there are a couple of streets in Guildford that are pretty nice too.