Over $800,000 in Federal Funds Given to Surrey to Improve the City’s Cultural Infrastructure

Surrey Museum, Fusion Festival, and Old Anniedale School will be recipients of the funding
Alyssa Laube, Associate Editor

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Photo of Surrey Museum taken on August 25, 2013. (David Stanley/Flickr)

In celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, the federal government has put aside $822,269 for infrastructure development in Surrey.

The money has been allocated for three purposes: the expansion of the Surrey Museum, events at the Surrey Fusion Festival, and sprucing up Old Anniedale School, which is the oldest one-room schoolhouse in the city.

The most significant amount, $377,269, is going towards the museum expansion. According to Cloverdale-Langley MP John Aldag, the museum will welcome a new hall dedicated to Indigenous works, an atrium, several galleries, workshop spaces, and artifact storage. Overall, this will represent over 12,000 square feet of growth, adding utility and diversity to the Surrey Museum.

A 50-page plan for the Surrey Museum expansion was posted online last year, although it states that the “early anticipated hard construction cost budget is $6,700,000, including any required escalation but excluding GST, contingency, FF&E, and other soft costs.”

In the plan, the stakeholder’s vision for the museum is states as such:

“The new Surrey Museum will shine as the City’s treasure house of artifacts that trace and display the stories of people, events, technologies and contributions from past and present generations. Lively, interactive and participatory opportunities will enhance objects and documents engaging audiences through tours, demonstrations, events, workshops, school programs and hands-on experiences.”

Approximately $195,000 will fund the creation of 80,000 square feet of space at the Surrey Fusion Festival, where people can dance, chat, and remember the history of our 150 year-old nation. There will be a stage in the area, but which sort of performances it will host is currently unknown. The Surrey Fusion Festival usually occurs over the summer in Holland Park.

Old Anniedale School, which was built in the 1800’s, is one of the first schools in Surrey and the oldest one still intact. Originally, it stood on 96 Avenue and 184 Street, but moved in 1975—narrowly escaping demolition—to 9744 176 Street.

Now the school is protected by the Heritage Designation Bylaw and is listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places. Although it closed in 1954, the school proudly produced more graduates to obtain university degrees than any other schools in the surrounding area at that time. These days, classes from the in-use Anniedale Elementary School visit it to learn about history of the city and its educational system.

Ironically, the nearly 130 year-old building can be seen from the modern and bustling Trans-Canada Highway. Back in the seventies, the building received new light fixtures, a stove, basement, antique desks, and an old slate chalkboard, along with other touch-ups. In the eighties, it became a popular site for field trips, where elementary school classes would dress up in nineteenth-century outfits and do work with chalk and blackboards. After that program fell to the wayside, it was used for PAC meetings and community get-togethers.

And just as it was in 1975, the school is in need of repair again. Citizens have been complaining that it is rotting away with accumulating moisture, mold, and graffiti. Many want it moved to a new location, but the cost of shipping and potentially buying new land is a concern, as is the release of toxic materials like asbestos during the moving process. The money donated by the federal government should make the future of Old Anniedale School clearer.

The federal government will also be donating money to a number of other Canada 150 celebrations around the country. A national vision has been released to commemorate the date, which focuses primarily on the environment, diversity and inclusion, youth, and national reconciliation.

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