A Metro Vancouver city that is constantly battling an image problem received an ego boost this week when it was named one of the world's most intelligent communities.
"Surrey is a city in transition from a suburban past to a sustainable urban future," states ICF's profile of the city. "On this road, it seeks to leave behind a reputation for sprawl, crime and limited economic potential."
The organization cites Surrey's "smart-city systems," such as the My Surrey App, as well as its Innovation Boulevard project, "where the city, universities and business are building clusters in health technology, clean tech and advanced manufacturing," as some of the reasons for its high praise.
Each year the awards program centres around a theme on which to gauge the applicants, and 2015's is "The Revolutionary Community." Finalists, which were whittled down to 21 in October 2014, are chosen by a group of academic analysts.
Surrey is joined in the top seven by Arlington County, Va., Columbus in Ohio, Ipswich, Australia, Mitchell, S.D., New Taipei City, Taiwan, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Each is now vying for the title of Intelligent Community of the Year, which will be announced at the ICF Summit in Toronto in June.
But even being a finalist is a welcome accolade for Surrey, a city that was most recently in the news thanks to an unflattering Facebook group.
Despite that, Surrey is working hard to change its reputation and is slowly growing into a sought-after place for real estate and business.
In May 2014 it was named the best B.C. city to invest in by the Real Estate Investment Network, and a recent luxury condo complex by WestStone Group has prices starting at an unbelievably low $93,900.
And who could forget Surrey's number one fan, Amrit Bains? The local resident wrote a song and shot a corresponding music video to share his city pride.
The ICF has been handing out the Intelligent Community awards since 1999. An organization press release states that locations in Canada and Taiwan regularly make the top seven list. Last year's number one spot was awarded to Toronto.