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With thanks to Scot Bathgate~this is not Metro Vancouver’s first rodeo with the canal idea. An early iteration of False Creek north included lagoons, and Expo 86 architect Bruno Freschi floated the canal concept with a connection from False Creek along Carrall towards Burrard Inlet. But these waterworks were suggestions for a mega development and a world’s fair. Both of these were also never built.

But this week in Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum actually told folks at a Business Association conference that  “water-filled canals could be constructed on a street with less traffic volumes, and that the idea first came to him when he visited Qatar”.

He also stated that he had already spoken to his city’s engineering department about the potential design. As the Daily Hive reports  CEO of the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Area Elizabeth Model diplomatically responded “Mayor McCallum has an interesting concept and as I have travelled so much and seen cities being built with canals… I understand his ideas but it really depends on the ease and functionality.”

Most places that have canals have them for operational reasons~Birmingham England’s canals served to connect manufacturing sites with raw materials, and Ottawa’s canals connected the Ottawa River to waterways in Lake Ontario. San Antonio in Texas has a canal system that originally brought in drinking water.

While these places now use the canals as an urban amenity and  attraction, they were not custom built for tourists.

You can take a look at this video by Global News that explores Mayor McCallum’s idea and asks Surrey members of the public their thoughts on a canal system. As one citizen said, “I think it will be a great idea especially if it has those Italian rowers”.







  1. With most of central Surrey at less than 2m above current sea level, the mayor’s vision of waterborne living will soon be realized, with or without Council funding.

  2. I don’t know why the Mayor’s staff would not put him on the right track when he went so far off it and he ran his bad idea by staff. It seems bad advice and direction is commonplace at Surrey City Hall.

    Just as an even worse example is for the new Skytrain line in Surrey. Translink and Surrey are only using an unheard of low 600 – 650 m Corridor for upping density. It doesn’t even achieve the standard 800 m distance to rapid bus and LRT stations along the arterials these stations will be on. This is for a density Corridor that is mostly made up of ALR, new townhomes and pretty new single family residences.

    They have barely expanded the density Corridor area from the 450 – 500 m it was for the B-line service. Talk about short-sighted planning. This is for a density Corridor with hardly any ridership. Surrey begged for this Skytrain line and now it’s been planned with true arrogance and neglect. What is Surrey and Translink doing? It makes no sense.

    The City of Surrey really needs help.

  3. San Antonio did a great implementation of that with their River Walk.

    This canal system would have been an EXCELLENT IDEA .. for housing, commerce, tourists and local traffic !!

    Any property with water orientation commands a premium. Thus, the more canals or islands THE BETTER !!! Walkable, boatable, bikable !

  4. Adding a water feature doesn’t seem as zany to me as it does to others here.
    I mean, Surrey has the Fraser River obviously, but it is basically reserved for CN (Thorton Yard) and industry along its banks.
    I am not sure that canals are the answer, but it doesn’t seem crazy to me to want to leverage the Fraser and the creeks that run through Surrey.

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