05/20/2015 02:05 EDT | Updated 05/20/2016 05:59 EDT

Cloverdale Fairgrounds eyed for recreation facilities

Now that the Cloverdale Rodeo has packed up and left for the year, the City of Surrey wants to find out what residents want to do with the Cloverdale Fairgrounds.

In the past, the site has been linked to everything from a training facility for the Vancouver Whitecaps to a convention centre.

"One of the concepts that we came up with previously was to look at some kind of a convention centre," said Coun. Tom Gill.

"However, we were unsuccessful. So what we're really trying to accomplish now is to do a refresh, kind of go back to square one, and really look at what those lands mean to Surrey."

Gill believes the site can be used to address the city's need for amenities, like aquatic centres and arenas.

He points to the entertainment centre Richmond has built on Triangle Road as an example.

"It was really quite exciting on Triangle Road with theatres, ice rinks, water parks and other opportunities for youth," Gill said.

"One third of our community is under the age of 19, and unfortunately I don't believe there are enough facilities to keep our youth active and engaged."

Residents want more youth facilities

Cloverdale Community Association president Mike Bola appreciates his neighbourhood's new recreation centre and skate park, but he wants to see more facilities for youths.

"Residents have been waiting long enough," Bola said.

"A lot of development has happened residentially, but not a lot of amenities have followed. This is a great start, and we're hoping this does actually take us somewhere."

Bola says many Cloverdale residents drive to Langley to play hockey or go for a swim because Surrey doesn't have enough amenities.

Nearby businesses hoping for a boost

The fairgrounds are a short walk from Cloverdale's downtown district.

Many businesses have struggled since the TV series Smallville stopped filming in the area, but many of them have banded together to rebrand the area.

Helena Lloyd, who owns Mates Uniforms on 176th Street, says their efforts seem to have worked because foot traffic is up over last year.

"I think the good weather, plus the economy is doing better and people are spending a bit more," said Lloyd.

"Plus, there's more awareness. People that come here say they love Cloverdale and they love the community feel."

Several shops along the strip have started selling Cloverdale T-shirts to help pay for five outdoor markets this year.

They are being held on May 30, June 20, May 30, June 20, July 25, Aug. 29 and Oct. 3.