Doug McCallum has been sworn in as the, not so new, mayor of Surrey along with 7 out of 8 council members from the Safe Surrey Coalition. After serving as Surrey’s mayor for nearly a decade between 1996-2005, McCallum is back with a fixed agenda in mind.
The two focal points of McCallum’s campaign was the rising argument between the proposed Surrey light-rail system and the more publicly preferred SkyTrain project – designed to connect the neighbourhoods of Guildford, Newton, and Whalley. Accompanied by a promise to dissolve rising tension in the region from local gang wars and gun crimes.
McCallum appears to be acting on his promises by pushing the Skytrain project against the previously agreed LRT trains that were a part of the 10-year development plan carefully drafted in 2014.
McCallum’s appeals are creating shockwaves across the region because they are challenging very comprehensive planning and agreements. The federal government has agreed upon spending a fixed figure of $ 2.7 billion towards BC’s transportation and infrastructure. Critics believe that McCallum’s rigid stance for Skytrain over LRT may lead him to lose funding completely, for the time being.
The core issue at hand appears to be the fact that advocating for Skytrain over LRT, which will cost the government almost double the amount will in effect taper with the delicately designed 10-year development plan of BC. While McCullum has managed to garner support from the mayor-elect of Vancouver, getting the approval of the whole council may be a struggle – There is also the risk of triggering other members on the council to seek similar demands.
Luckily, there is a loophole. Surrey being the second largest municipality in the region can gain mileage from the weight-by-population voting system on the council and possibly seek approval for the project. But it will have to figure out where the extra $1.3 billion dollars funding (approx.) will come from.
The second matter of business for McCallum is the state of law and order in Surrey. Gun violence and gang wars have surged exponentially in the region over the years. McCallum has come up with a proposal that suggests Surrey should have its own local police force to tackle rising conflicts more efficiently instead of being served by the RCMP, as it is now.