Surrey’s Holland Park Hits Refresh

Holland Park | BCBusiness
Mumford & Sons kicked off the 2013 Concerts in the Park series at Holland Park.

Holland Park offers much-needed community to Surrey’s fast-growing population, not to mention a great place to eat lunch during a busy workday

by Susan BoyceIn a municipality that boasts more than 2,600 hectares of parkland, Holland Park comes in at only 10, but there’s nothing small in the way this urban oasis engages the community.

Located directly south of the Central City Shopping Centre on the southwest corner of King George Boulevard and Old Yale Road, Holland Park’s transformation from an underutilized, uninviting outdoor space into a treasured gathering and celebration area has been dramatic. The City has already invested $6.5 million into redevelopment with plans for further expansion including purchasing additional land and adding a new water park, tennis and volleyball courts, plus both Japanese and Chinese gardens to celebrate Surrey’s sister cities of Koto-ku (Japan) and Zhuhai (China). 

“It’s not just about the physical size,” says Owen Croy, Surrey’s manager of parks. “It’s about creating spaces that are suitable for large events that attract thousands of people as well as more intimate spaces where people can get together for something as simple as playing their guitars with friends.”

He adds that the City also made a conscious, strategic decision not to increase the existing on-site parking. “There is significant parking nearby for people who come by automobile. And since we’re right at the end of the SkyTrain route, you can easily ride the rails from Vancouver or take other transit options.”

The strategy is working, and on any given sunny day, people from all walks of life—many who work nearby or who are students at SFU across the street—can be found enjoying Holland Park’s public art, water features and the expansive Great Events Lawn. There’s even free Wi-Fi for when your workday needs a natural breeze.

But when it’s time for an event, Holland Park knows how to play host. In 2008, it was selected as one of B.C.’s Spirit Squares during the province’s 150th-anniversary festivities. Two years later, it rose to prominence as the hugely successful Live Nation site during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

Last spring, the park achieved another milestone when well-known English folk rock group Mumford & Sons eschewed Vancouver and chose Holland Park as their West Coast performance venue. This inaugural event in the 2013 Concerts in the Park series attracted some 25,000 fans, with the band’s frontman telling the audience that the show was the biggest yet for the band. Yet another key event is the Annual Fusion Festival, which last summer featured 40 pavilions, four stages and attracted more than 100,000 visitors during its two-day run.

And although Croy stresses it’s a City mandate to provide a diverse array of free, family-friendly events in addition to ticketed events like rock shows, the economic spinoffs are undeniable—dinner before or after an event, shopping, lattés or local brew-pub fare all pump significant dollars into the local economy and create additional employment opportunities.

But even more important, he believes, is the exposure to the new reality of Surrey. “These events bring in a whole new demographic who suddenly have their eyes opened to the possibility of living here.” And that, he says, is good news for everyone.