From Surrey having one big, blue central computer at city hall to iPads in council meetings, much has changed in the city over the last 20 years.
In the same time, the city has seen massive expansion of Surrey Memorial Hospital, major growth in the public school system and SkyTrain has come to the region.
Surrey celebrates its 20th anniversary as a city on Sept. 11, and Bob Bose was there for it all.
Bose, former mayor and councillor in Surrey, is the son of a pioneering farming family that came to Surrey in the 1890s. He served as a Surrey alderman from 1978 to 1985 and then served as Surrey's mayor for nine years, from 1988 to 1996.
Those were rock'em-sock'em times on council, with Bose leading a slate of four left-wing Surrey Civic Electors council members against five right-wing Surrey Electors Team councillors.
Bose said it was tough working as mayor in a minority government.
"The council of the day was referred to as being dysfunctional, which I dispute because it was anything but dysfunctional. It was, in fact, I think alive and democracy was alive and well, despite of all the controversy," Bose said. "We did an awful lot of good things."
After his mayoralty, Bose returned to Surrey civic politics as a councillor, from 2000 to the 2011.
He was the last Surrey Civic Coalition politician with a seat on council until he was ousted in 2011, when Surrey First swept all the seats.
Bose said his proudest accomplishments include acquiring a lot of open space for the city.
"They were everything from big projects to little ones," Bose said.
Acquisitions under his watch included properties that now make up the Stewart Farm and the Surrey Bend Regional Park, which is nearly as large as Stanley Park.
"The most important thing to me is that we laid the groundwork for what I think is quite unique anywhere in the region in terms of laying out (ecologically) sensitive areas and ecological management systems, which will hopefully serve the city into the future."
And Bose thinks the city should acquire 600 more acres of land. Leading up to the 2011 election, he put a motion to council to do just that, and suggested it go to referendum. The idea never saw the light of day.
Earlier in his career, the question of preserving Green Timbers and Sunnyside Acres went to referendum. As a result, the city still has those parks today.
"I think that really characterizes that 20 years from becoming a city to today. If I have a regret, it's that the momentum has largely been lost because there's not a political will to carry it on," Bose said.
Bose said Surrey has really grown up.
The city now attracts highcalibre architects, he said, of which he is particularly proud. Bose pointed to Bing Thom, who designed the new City Centre Library, which he described as "extraordinary."
He said transit has grown tremendously over the past two decades, pointing to the city's three SkyTrain stops.
Looking into the future, Bose said transportation will continue to help Surrey grow even more.
Rapid transit connecting City Centre to the Guildford and Newton communities will be key, he said, adding that he supports light rail.
"That will lead to further densification and create more of an urban context in those centres," he said.
Another component that is key to Surrey's success, Bose said, is switching to a different political system.
"While we talk a lot about neighbourhoods and strengthening neighbourhoods, there's no spokesperson for those neighbourhoods."
Bose said some councillors should be elected at large, some at the local level, and the mayor elected at large.
"After all, you have an MLA representing an area. Why is there not a council member who works closely with that MLA and can speak for its neighbourhood?" Bose said right now, the business of Surrey is development.
"I think at some point in the future, the business of Surrey council will be community and that requires a more robust political structure. And I can't imagine how that could happen without neighbourhood representation."
email@example.com With files from Tom Zytaruk TUESDAY: Dianne Watts shares her ambitious vision for Surrey's future.
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