Community engagement and placemaking in Newton, Surrey

Happy Cities is leading community engagement for the City of Surrey’s Focus Newton project, an initiative that seeks to enhance public spaces in the Newton neighbourhood.

A happy cities pop-up engagement event in Newton, Surrey. The photo shows the Happy Cities tent set up next to a sports field and benches, with colourful bunting strung overhead
A pop-up community engagement event in Newton, Surrey.

Public spaces work best when they are shaped by all community members.

Happy Cities is excited to be working with the City of Surrey’s Community Enhancement Team to lead engagement for the Focus Newton project. Focus Newton seeks to beautify, enhance, and rejuvenate public spaces in Newton—in close collaboration with the diverse residents who call the neighbourhood home. We’re reaching and listening to a diverse range of residents and stakeholders involved in the Newton community to hear community ideas and priorities to improve spaces like parks, streets and sidewalks, and plazas. Following this engagement, we’ll develop an action plan with short- and medium-term placemaking strategies that can help enhance a sense of pride, place, and belonging in Newton.

Community engagement as a form of placemaking

Our engagement approach includes a series of celebratory pop-up events, hosted alongside community picnics, sports tournaments, and car free days. At these pop-ups, we listen to the community’s priorities and showcase placemaking in action—sparking ideas and excitement around how placemaking can bring energy to public spaces and encourage play and social connections. The pop-up events also help us to meet people where they are, ensuring that as many people as possible can play a role in shaping their neighbourhood. The community pop-ups complement additional engagement activities, including an online survey and a series of survey outreach sessions to encourage wide participation in the project.

Throughout this work, the City of Surrey has been a strong supporter in moving beyond the traditional open house to instead connect with people in the places they already frequent and celebrate shared spaces. Happy Cities created a comprehensive engagement plan to complement the City’s communications plan and align with its Public Engagement Strategy. We developed key messages and communications content aligned with project goals and suitable for the culturally diverse and growing Newton community.

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