The Business Case for Relocating to Surrey

Tako J. van Popta, managing partner of McQuarrie Hunter LLP, on why relocating to Surrey is a smart business move

What’s the secret to building a business with happy employees and healthy profits? A well-thought-out strategy is vital and strong leadership is important, but what about location? Tako J. van Popta of McQuarrie Hunter LLP, a leading Surrey-based law firm, discusses why relocating to Surrey makes perfect business sense.

For the past three years, the Real Estate Investment Network has named Surrey the best place in British Columbia to invest. In your opinion, what’s driving this demand?
There’s an enormous influx of people heading east right now. The city of Surrey welcomes roughly 1,000 new residents each month. The biggest single factor is the availability of land in Surrey compared to other areas of Greater Vancouver. From my office window, I can see at least half a dozen construction cranes putting up high-rise buildings. The growth we’re seeing is amazing.

Surrey is growing at an astonishing rate, and that opens up opportunities for businesses with the right vision. Six years ago, McQuarrie Hunter amalgamated its operations into one large law practice right here in the Central City Tower. South of the Fraser is where we dominate, but we still compete with some of the larger legal practices based in downtown Vancouver.

Surrey is known as a growing city with a lower cost of doing business. Beyond the associated cost efficiencies, why is relocating to Surrey a smart business move?
There’s a shortage of commercial and industrial land in the Lower Mainland, and that land is available in Surrey. Transportation links are important too, and Surrey has a lot to offer on that front: Highway 1 and the Port Mann Bridge have drastically improved over the past few years, and commercial transportation flows freely to and from Surrey by truck, rail or sea. Surrey isn’t afraid to service that part of our economy. Surrey City Hall is very pro-business and pro-development; they want to build a great city, and that bodes well for businesses that wish to relocate here.

What about businesses with a cross-border presence, or those that cater to students and working professionals? Why is Surrey an ideal location for these types of companies? 
Surrey is close to the U.S. border, which is a distinct advantage for enterprises with U.S. and Canadian business dealings, or for those that wish to expand into the American market. Simon Fraser University also has a campus in the Central City Tower, and Kwantlen Polytechnic University is coming to downtown Surrey—this is great news for businesses that cater to younger customers. There’s definitely a need for more restaurants and entertainment options for those who live, work and study in the area.

Let’s talk about personnel. What makes Surrey an attractive place for business professionals to live and work?
Housing is more affordable in Surrey than Vancouver, and it’s a great place for young families to put down roots. Surrey is also very accessible by car or public transit. Even if employees live in Burnaby, New Westminster or Coquitlam, they can just hop on the SkyTrain and head down to Surrey. Surrey is no longer just the “bedroom suburb” that supplies Vancouver with employees. Surrey is on a steady growth trajectory to becoming a twin city of Vancouver.

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