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Surrey Regional Economic Summit 2012



On October 4th at the Surrey Sheraton Guildford Hotel, Surrey hosted some of the most influential economists, journalists and entrepreneurs in the world at the Surrey Regional Economic Summit (SRES). This year’s keynote speaker was entrepreneur, philanthropist and activist Sir Richard Branson.  Branson’s insights brought inspiration to the two hundred attendees at The SRES.

This year’s summit posed questions such as: What is the state of our present and future economy and society? How will multilateral relations and economic recovery be affected by either Obama’s re-election or Romney’s victory in November?  The City of Surrey invited UC Berkley Professor Christina Romer, Wall Street Journal economist Stephen Moore, The Daily Beast / Newsweek journalist Eleanor Clift and CNN contributor and radio host William J. (Bill) Bennett to provide their commentary on the state of the political and economic climate.

Branson to Youth: “Just get on, and try it” or “Screw it, let’s do it

In previous Surrey summits, two former US Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, former UK Premier Minister Tony Blair and former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani have presented as keynote speakers.  This year’s featured speaker, Sir Richard Branson is an inspiration to both established business people and young entrepreneurs alike. Branson is the only individual in the world who has created 8 different companies in different industries, each worth $1billion. He is recognized as one of the most influential and innovative businessmen in the world.

In conversation with CKNW’s  host Bill Good,  Branson pointed out that the biggest mistake people can make in business and entrepreneurship is to abandon their wishes and ideas.  From his start in the music magazine publishing industry decades ago,  Sir Richard Branson has been synonymous with successful business.  Branson praised Canada’s success and stability during the recession and financial crisis. A significant statement from Branson who lives and works in Europe where the majority of countries are struggling with the most challenging financial, economic and political crisis of the last few decades.

Canada is one of the few countries in the world that has survived the recent recession extremely well. In my opinion Canada’s got a spectacular future”. – Sir Richard Branson, SRES 2012

Branson’s advice to young entrepreneurs stressed one rule: “If you’re going into business do it to be the best in what  you are doing, otherwise there’s no point going in.”  He added that having an idea means that you should try until you succeed.

Addressing he ideas of formal education and business success Branson stated, “I’m not sure that getting a business degree is necessary to run a business. In my opinion almost anybody could become an entrepreneur if they have a dream to make a difference in other peoples lives.”

Branson’s ideas to inspire people to succeed at being the best are solidified in his book “Screw it, let’s do it.” According to Mayor Dianne Watts, the phrase “Screw it, let’s do it.” is the motto used by the City and Council when they need that extra motivation. Branson’s inspiring  ideas and messages are meaningful for residents of communities like Surrey where approximately 34% of the overall population is under age of 30.  Our community has one of the largest numbers of young families in Canada.

America, Europe and Asia: On the Road to Recovery

In my opinion there was no better place in the North America to learn where our economies are going and what we can expect in the future. Christina Romer, UC Berkley professor of Economics and former Chair of White House Council of Economic Advisers, and Stephen Moore, Wall Street Journal Economist are two people with unbelievable experience and knowledge on the current state of economics not only in US,  but also on a global scale.

According to Romer and Moore, the US economy today is in grave condition that could change after the November presidential elections. It is highly likely that there will be an enormous impact on all the major markets, especially in North America. Romer states that the major impact will be the result of the voters decision and support in the presidential race. Prof. Romer expects a full recovery of US business, although the recovery process it expected to be slow. In her opinion, the EU financial and economic crisis are likely to continue for the next 3 to five years. Stability will not be viable unless EU introduces and implements new fiscal policy to promote essential growth.

Moore stated that US recovery would be effected by the cloud of fear created over the last few years as a result of the failures in the banking sector and other economic factors. The cloud of fear that Moore refers to is one that exists globally and is also present in Canada. It is only through the removal of this cloud of fear that we will have a better chance of recovery.  Regarding the European crisis, Moore states that Europe has failed to understand the extent of the trouble they’re in at the moment.

Voting on the Future: The Domestic and International Impact of the American Presidential Election

To have two extremely experienced and successful journalists and commentators in one place just hours after the first inaugural US Presidential debate was a once in a lifetime occasion.  Democrat commentator Eleanor Clift, from Newsweek and The Daily Beast,  and William J. (Bill) Bennett, CNN Republican commentator and former Secretary of Education, provided their ideas on the impact of the November election on the US and around the world.

Clift defended President Obama, while Bennett argued that the President endangered the US and didn’t implement his promises from the 2008 campaign. The state of the US economy was also addressed by Clift and Bennett. Clift believes the problem started in the Bush era, creating the biggest financial crisis in the USA and the world. Opposing Clift, Bennett stated that while problems started in last years of the Bush era, Obama has created even bigger problems and deepened the national debt.

On foreign policy Clift sees opportunity for the United States to be a pacifier and to continue the current policy stream without starting new wars, especially with Iran.  She sees a possible resolution in a diplomatic approach and not the one argued by the Israeli Prime Minister. Bennett argued that Iran’s situation must be resolved in different way, and that the US must keep old allies and friends if they want to protect its own interests. He also wants to see more action in Afghanistan and Iraq. Bennett is the father of a US Navy Marine and a supporter of the forces and policies promoted by the Republicans.

They both agreed that Mitt Romney won first presidential debate and now has a significantly higher chance to win the November election. Clift and Bennett acknowledged that the overall race will be extremely tight and very interesting over its final weeks.

Surrey has proven that they are able to organize, implement and successfully present these summits.  The SRES came at an interesting time this year, following the first US Presidential debate.  The SRES brought to the forefront the current state of international politics and the economy and its impact on Canada, the US and the world. Professionals, students and media had a rare opportunity to witness some of the greatest minds in politics, media and entrepreneurship today. SRES 2012 took a provocative look at politics and the economy. We anticipate next year’s SRES to be bigger and better.

Born in Bosnia, Esmir’s interests are in journalism, politics, communications, history, culture, sports, books and technology. He has contributed to some of the most innovative independent media projects to come out of Bosnia and Herzegovina. One of the earliest members of Surrey604, Esmir now resides in Sarajevo working with Bosnian FACE TV.


2019 Surrey Report Card: Councillor Gives Mayor’s Team a D for Transit and F for Proposed Police Department



More and more of us in Surrey believe our city is headed in the wrong direction: Councillor Linda Annis

Surrey, BC: In her 2019 report card for city hall, Councillor Linda Annis has given Mayor Doug McCallum and his four Safe Surrey councillors a D when it comes to transit and an “F” for the proposed Surrey Police Department.

“The mayor said he could get Skytrain from Surrey city centre to Langley for the $1.65 billion that had been allocated to LRT, but that turned out to be completely untrue and wasn’t even close to reality,” said Annis. “Instead, we’re getting only four stations and everything stops at 164th, with no new funding for at least the next 10 years. That means no significant transit improvements for neighbourhoods such as Newton, Cloverdale, Clayton, Campbell Heights and South Surrey. Frankly, when it comes to transit the mayor and his Safe Surrey councillors haven’t delivered as our city continues to grow. As a result, we’ll continue to be a city that spends more time in our cars than people living in Vancouver or other Lower Mainland cities.”

Annis said that while there’s growing disappointment about transit, she believes the proposed Surrey Police Department is the single biggest city hall failure in 2019.

“I think the idea of the SPD and the way the mayor is dealing with it deserves a failing grade,” said Annis. “There’s nothing about the transition report that gives anyone any confidence that we’re spending money wisely, or even solving a policing or public safety problem. The mayor and his four councillors have ignored the community, ignored taxpayers, and are trying to ram through the SPD at any cost. You only have to look at the new city budget to see that the transition to the SPD is swallowing up every available dollar, which means no new police, no new firefighters, and no new rinks, parks or community centres. Meanwhile, we’re continuing to grow, but cutting back on police and firefighters. Frankly, taxpayers are getting shortchanged. It just doesn’t make any sense, and, if the SPD is actually created, it will have fewer officers than our current Surrey RCMP detachment. It’s a financial nightmare and there are no answers from the mayor and his team. As a result, I think by any measure the proposed SPD plan deserves an F.”

Annis added that when it comes to housing affordability in Surrey, new city taxes and charges to developers that are passed on to home buyers only work to make Surrey less affordable. Consequently, when it comes to affordability, Annis gives city hall a D in her 2019 report card.

“Politicians talk a good game when it comes to affordability, but increased city taxes and the growing number of charges from Surrey city hall to local developers are simply being passed on to people looking to buy a home,” noted Annis. “Here in Surrey, those taxes and extra costs are nothing more than a cash grab to help fund the transition to the SPD. In the end, taxpayers and new home buyers pay the costs, and affordability goes out the window.”

Outlining her priorities for 2020, Annis said ethics, better transit, public safety, smart development, youth at risk and new schools are among her top priorities. Over the coming year, Annis said she will be advocating for:

  • Hiring the promised ethics commissioner for the City of Surrey
  • Complete transparency around the proposed SPD and its costs, with a public referendum that gives taxpayers the final say
  • More and better transit for Surrey neighbourhoods
  • Smart development that ensures Surrey is creating a community where people can work, live and play, with less commuting to jobs outside of Surrey
  • Zero tolerance for school portables, with the City being more proactive with the Province and school board
  • More transitional housing for the homeless

“Our community is continuing to grow and we’ve got tremendous potential, but we have to make better decisions about our future and make sure we’re getting it right, particularly when it comes to transit, policing and development,” explained Annis. “I’ve always believed that the mayor and council are elected to listen to our voters and taxpayers. That transparency is key, but we’re seeing less and less public input, engagement or consultation and that’s no way to build a better city. I’m hoping that in 2020 we’ll see politicians at city hall listen more and talk less, ensuring Surrey residents always have the final say about their future.”

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BC Libertarian Party Assembles to Drive Change



Dustin Murray walked into his first BC Libertarian party meeting hoping to meet like minded thinkers for change in the province, but walked out as the parties Surrey-Delta-Langley treasurer. The party met Sunday afternoon to discuss and approve the party bylaws, as well as elect three new members for the Surrey Delta Langley location.

The president, and vice president were both filled by two elected party members. Alex Joel filled the position as president and Jesse Batsford filled the position of vice president. But once the position of treasurer was open, the last member of the party present declined the offer allowing Dustin Murray to step in and hold the position.

“I can’t sit around and do nothing, so I’m here to do something,” said Murray.

Once the member of the party voted Murray as treasurer, Murray finally handed in his application to be a formal member of the BC Libertarian Party, along with his five dollar application fee. Dr. Kenneth Van Dewark, who hold the regional caucus chair and lead the meeting, traded Murrays application with the parties treasurer paperwork which Murray swiftly signed at the bottom.

(L) Dustin Murray – Treasurer, Don Wilson – Party leader, Alex Joel – president and Jesse Batsford – vice president

(L) Dustin Murray – Treasurer, Alex Joel – president and Jesse Batsford – vice president

Murray’s role as treasurer is purely ceremonial for the party but Murray said he is still looking forward to create action in little ways for his family and himself. Murray is one of a handful of new members that joined Sunday afternoon. While the party has been around since 1986, the party has only seen a significant growth within the past two years.

“I would say, it (BC Libertarian Party) was more of a book club then a viable political option,” said Dr. Van Dewark. “But I think the situation in BC is, it’s become such that people are hungry for an alternative and the party has become a vehicle for that.”

According to party leader Don Wilson the party has grown for its advocacy on lower taxes, more choice and freedom alternatives. “Free market economics, classical liberal ideas, the protection of property rights and free speech, that’s our focus,” said Wilson.

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Mayor McCallum & City Council approve free parking on streets around Surrey Memorial Hospital and at City Hall Parkade



Surrey, BC – Surrey City Council unanimously approved two hour free parking for on-street parking around Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) and at the City Hall Parkade.

“I firmly believed that people visiting their loved ones at Surrey Memorial Hospital should not pay for parking, nor should our citizens have to pay to park their vehicles when conducting business at their “house,” which is City Hall,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “This was a promise that my team and I campaigned on and we have taken immediate action to deliver on it.”

With Council’s decision tonight, the 103 on-street pay parking spaces around SMH and up to 165 spaces for the public at the City Hall Parkade are free of charge for the first two hours for visitors. The two hour time limit has been implemented in order to ensure that the spots are being utilized as intended and discourage external users, such as park-and-ride, from occupying the stalls for an extended length of time. The full corporate report can be viewed here.

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City of Surrey only municipality to be named among Canada’s most admired corporate cultures



Surrey, BC – The City of Surrey has been recognized in the “Broader Public Sector” category and is the only municipality to be named among Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures for 2018.

“To be the only municipality in Canada to receive this award speaks volumes about our employees’ passion and innovation for the work they do,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “I am glad that our City staff are being recognized for their commitment to deliver superior service to our citizens in Surrey.”

The award is presented annually by Waterstone Human Capital, a leading executive search firm specializing in recruiting for fit and cultural talent management, to companies that demonstrate exemplary performance in vision and leadership; recruitment and hiring for fit; cultural alignment and measurement; retention; rewards and recognition; organizational performance; and corporate social responsibility.

“Our corporate culture is a reflection of the extraordinary things our employees do each and every day,” said Vincent Lalonde, City Manager. “Recognition on this level is a testament to the exceptional efforts of our employees. It’s a real honour for the City of Surrey and its staff to receive this award.”

This national program, now in its 14th year, recognizes best-in-class Canadian organizations for having cultures that have helped them enhance performance and sustain a competitive advantage.

“At Waterstone we believe corporate culture drives performance and that it’s your organization’s greatest asset,” said Marty Parker, President and Chief Executive Officer of Waterstone Human Capital and Chair of Canada’s Most Admired™ Corporate Cultures. “What’s notable about the 2018 winners is their commitment to culture as a competitive advantage. They set an outstanding example for cultivating and sustaining great cultures that ultimately drive growth and performance. This year’s winning organizations are to be admired for the diverse and impactful ways they ensure culture underpins their success.”

For more information about the program, visit

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TransLink Mayors Council Meeting Brings Victory for Mayor McCallum



In the first TransLink Mayors Council Meeting, mayors collectively voted to suspend the Surrey light rail transit and move forward with implementing a SkyTrain extension to Langley. Despite numerous unanswered questions and concerns in suspending the LRT, Surrey’s new mayor Doug McCallum spoke to the mayors about the impact the switch will make for Surrey.

As the meeting proceeded, he was victorious. Before the votes were counted a discussion between the mayors was made where multiple mayors questioned the suspension. Mayor McCallum disagreed with a statement that Richmond mayor Malcolm Brodie made during their discussion.

Mayor Brodie said that the decision behind the LRT was not made lightly in previous years considering Surrey residents, politicians and transportation experts were consulted. Mayor Brodie said the previous party, Surrey First, proposed the idea and had worked on the implementation of the line for years.

“I think this approach is going down a very dangerous precedent,” mayor Brodie said. Whether or not the plans should change based on an election was a question the mayors should think about before casting their vote, mayor Brodie said. Mayor Brodie requested that the board meet again to vote once the timeline and facts are more concrete. The next mayor’s council meeting will take place on Dec. 13 but mayor McCallum said, “The region is ready to move forward. We need to move forward.”

While mayor Brodie said majority of the Surrey residents prefer the LRT, mayor McCallum opposed Brodie’s statement and said that the only residents for the construction of the LRT were previous politicians and residents with a business background. He gave an example of two of the delegates that attended, Anita Huberman CEO of the Surrey Board of Trade and Dr. Greg Thomas President and CEO of G3 Consulting Ltd.

Huberman said during her speech that to build the LRT is to connect Surrey all around. “Let’s build it,” she said. Mayor McCallum said that his role is to be the voice for the people and said, “I believe in being a messenger for our city.”

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