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CARP Seeking Petition Signatures – Gobsmacked at Surrey Mayor’s Disregard for Seniors

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The community chapter of Canada’s largest advocacy organization representing 330,000 members has joined forces with the KEEP THE RCMP IN SURREY B.C. CAMPAIGN & will be seeking petition signatures.

Surrey, B.C. (January 29, 2020): The White Rock Surrey chapter of CARP, Canada’s largest advocacy association for older Canadians, is once again gobsmacked by Mayor Doug McCallum’s total disregard for seniors in the City of Surrey.

“First he put a freeze on new RCMP officers and firefighters, then he passed a budget in a matter of minutes that funnelled much needed funds into a Surrey Police Department that few taxpayers want,” said chapter president Ramona Kaptyn. “Now he is restricting and hindering Uber and Lyft from serving Surrey customers.”

CARP is calling on the Mayor, who is a senior himself, to try being a senior without a car who needs a ride home after shopping for groceries, or who needs to go to the doctor unexpectedly, or who has to go somewhere when it’s too cold or rainy to be taking a bus or sky train. Waiting for a taxi can take forever.

But it’s not only the ride sharing debacle that has CARP rattled. Canada’s largest non-profit association representing more than 330,000 older Canadians has joined forces with the KEEP THE RCMP IN SURREY B.C. CAMPAIGN. It is actively seeking more signatures to add to the current petition which already has more than 39,000 signees.

CARP White Rock Surrey feels the Mayor’s new budget will lead to higher taxes which many, especially low-income seniors, will not be able to afford.

“Money is being diverted from many other worthy causes, including new sports facilities, to pay for a new police force. Families, including grandmothers, must get up as early as 4 a.m. to take youngsters to hockey practice because there are not enough rinks,” said Kaptyn.

Some CARP members have also said they are afraid to go out after dark because they do not feel safe. This is going to lead to isolationism, which leads to health problems, which become a needless burden to our already overtaxed health-care system.

CARP National stands with its White Rock Surrey Chapter in demanding that Mayor Doug McCallum reverse his devastating budget, which undercuts a variety of services for seniors, their children and grandchildren. The budget also imposes a hiring freeze on new RCMP officers and firefighters. It’s critical that seniors are safe in their communities in order to reap the considerable benefits of social inclusion in healthy aging.

The Chapter is also supporting initiatives of four Surrey city councillors who are opposing the budget which was passed in a matter of minutes on December 16 amidst loud protests from many Surrey residents in attendance. They are Councillors Linda Annis, Brenda Locke, Jack Hundial and Steven Pettigrew. It particularly applauds the recent motion by councillor Brenda Locke calling that “The existing process being followed to consider transition from the RCMP to a Surrey Police Force be immediately suspended until a sufficient, respectful and transparent consultation process that meets the federal, provincial and municipal obligations to consult with our First Nations peoples affected by the proposed changes has been adopted.”

CARP’s reasons for joining forces with those opposing the budget and a new Surrey Police Force are as follows:

  • A new Surrey Police Department (SPD) means fewer officers than we have today: 805 SPD vs 843 RCMP.
  • RCMP guarantee a full contingent of officers, even when officers are off sick or on vacation, while the SPD model cannot back-fill vacancies.
  • RCMP have one officer per car. The SPD model mirrors That of the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) which has two officers in a car, reducing overall policing capacity and fewer cars on the road.
  • Car 67, the specialized unit which pairs an officer and mental health professional, will be discontinued under the SPD, all when the need is climbing.
  • Sophie’s Place, which supports children who are victims of abuse and neglect, will have fewer officers.
  • The VPD has more than 1,400 members; the SPD will have barely 800, yet Surrey’s population is growing faster than Vancouver’s and will soon exceed it.
  • The “11 per cent” cost increase of the SPD vs. RCMP cost cannot be verified by anyone at Surrey city hall because the numbers do not appear to be real and don’t add up.
  • With no corporals, staff sergeants, or superintendents, the SPD model offers few, if any, chances for promotion, making SPD less attractive than other forces to career officers.
  • The Mayor proposes running “two” police forces during transition, a costly and chaotic proposition.
  • Surrey doesn’t need the SPD to have a community police board, that can be done now with the RCMP.
  • Training prospective SPD officers will be a serious challenge because the Justice Institute is already at capacity in terms of the officers they can train each year.
  • Changing the badges of the officers will not solve gang crime.

Here is a partial statement from Surrey Councillor Linda Annis “I think the idea of the SPD and the way the Mayor is dealing with it deserves a failing grade. 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 supporting councillors have ignored the community, ignored taxpayers, and are trying to ram through the SPD at any cost. You only must look at the new city budget to see that the transition to the SPD is swallowing up every available dollar, which means no new RCMP 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.”

Locations where people can sign the KEEP THE RCMP IN SURREY B.C. petition are as follows:

  1. Art Knapp, 4391 King George Blvd.
  2. Ethical Addictions, 1558 128 St., Ocean Park
  3. Surrey New and Used Building Materials, 17861 64 Ave.
  4. Instant Imprints, 15292 Croydon Dr. , South Surrey
  5. Aquarius Dental, 19390 68 Ave.
  6. Vlassis Greek Taverna, 10026 King George Blvd.

Surrey604 is an online magazine and media outlet based in Surrey, BC. Through writing, video, photography, and social media, we secure an intimate reach to the public. We promote local events and causes.

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Surrey Residents Embrace Digital Library Resources

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Surrey, BC – Library branches may be closed due to COVID-19 but Surrey Libraries are still serving the literacy and learning needs of the community. New users of OverDrive, the free service that lets people borrow digital content like eBooks and eAudiobooks saw an increase of 257% in April compared to the same month last year. Additionally, downloads of eBooks and eAudio and use of streaming video more than doubled in April.

“From books, to magazines and streaming media, our residents have discovered and fully embraced the wide range of materials available in Surrey Libraries digital collection,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “Our libraries offer a lifetime of continual learning and I am happy to see so many people continuing to use this vital resource. For those who have yet to access this wonderful resource, you can do so by signing up for your own library card online.”

To meet this increased demand, the Library is growing its digital content by adding new engaging online resources as well as always available eBooks and a superloan eBook and eAudio collection. Additionally, use of online learning platforms like Lynda.com, Gale Courses, Learning Express, and Kanopy Great Courses has also doubled.

“The Library has always been a source of trusted information and free resources for the community and we continue to fill that role,” said Neelam Sahota, chair of the Board of Trustees. “The Library’s digital resources are convenient and meets people’s needs – having more people discovering these resources is a silver lining in an otherwise challenging time.”

In addition to the digital resources, Library staff are available to answer questions by email  (libraryinfo@surrey.ca) and telephone (604-598-7901) and the Library has seen an increase of over 1,000 per cent in the number of emails received over the same time period last year.

Surrey Libraries has also started offering virtual programming. Tech help, Storytimes, homework tips online, literature club for seniors, and book clubs for all ages are just some of the programs available. Upcoming online programs can be found on the Library’s website: https://www.surreylibraries.ca/events.

Information on online library resources is available at
www.surreylibraries.ca/news/getting-started-our-online-library. And for the full alphabetical list of databases that Surrey Libraries offers, visit the online library page.

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Patios for Surrey’s Restaurants a Good Solution to More Space and Social Distancing

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Let’s be creative and flexible in helping our 800-plus
restaurants survive COVID-19: Councillor Linda Annis

Councillor Linda Annis says Surrey needs to give its 800-plus restaurants, wineries and breweries the option of opening up summer patios as a way to provide more space in the age of social distancing.

“Vancouver’s decision this week to ease restrictions on patios is a good move and a practical way to help their hospitality businesses,” said Annis. “We need to be equally creative and supportive as our Surrey restaurants, wineries and breweries struggle to survive the impacts of COVID-19. If they can only use their interior space, many will not make it. But if they can have patios that let them have more space while social distancing then they have a fighting chance, and frankly who doesn’t want to sit outside on a sunny day in Surrey?”

Annis said she’s going to ask city council and city staff to move quickly with little or no red tape, quick approvals and helping get to ‘yes” on patio options that allow businesses to make the most of summer in Surrey.

“We don’t need a long approval process, instead we should be giving our hospitality sector some quick guidelines that take common sense and safety into consideration, and encourage them to be creative,” added Annis. “I don’t want another layer of bureaucracy, just give our hospitality sector the chance to do what they do best, be creative and offer great food and service.”

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VPD Budget Issues a Wake Up Call for Surrey’s Proposed SPD

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This is no time for Surrey to be changing police forces: Councillor Linda Annis

Councillor Linda Annis says media reports about serious budget issues for the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) during COVID-19 should be “another reason to press pause” on Mayor Doug McCallum’s plans to rush ahead with a Surrey Police Department.

“These are unprecedented times and the last thing we need right now is a police force that’s in some sort of costly, complicated and unnecessary transition,” said Annis. “The fact that the Vancouver Police Department is facing serious policing and budget issues, as the City of Vancouver deals with reduced city revenues, should be a wake-up call for all of us right here in Surrey.

Switching police departments during a global pandemic is a scary thought, both from a policing perspective, but also because of the very real financial impacts facing our city and its taxpayers. Right now, our police department and city staff should be completely focused on public safety and how to manage through the impacts of COVID-19. We shouldn’t be spending another dime or another second on creating a Surrey Police Department while all of this is going on around us.”

Annis said her only interest in reports about possible police budget cuts in Vancouver is to remind Surrey taxpayers what’s at stake with the costly transition to the SPD from the RCMP, particularly during the state of emergency.

“Policing is costly and complex at the best of times,” added Annis. “But during a serious emergency, like the one we’re in right now, we need to stay focused on what’s actually important to our taxpayers, and switching police departments during a health crisis isn’t even close to the top of that list.”

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Surrey launches 2020 Love Where You Live campaign

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Mayor Doug McCallum and City staff lead a clean-up around Surrey City Hall

On May 14th the City of Surrey will launch its annual Love Where You Live clean-up and beautification initiative that will run until October 30, 2020. Due to the physical distancing measures in place with COVID-19, this year’s campaign will focus on individual actions and small group projects. City Staff will kick off the 2020 Love Where You Live campaign with a two-week clean-up blitz to enhance community efforts.

“One thing we have learned from this pandemic, is that we have an incredible ability to come together as a community to support and care for each other,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “I have taken a lot of pride in seeing residents volunteer and lend a hand within our community.

As we head into a time when more families will spend time outdoors we are calling on everyone to participate, while observing physical distancing, in keeping our streets, parks, business and play areas safe and welcoming, by joining the 20 Minute Clean-up Challenge. Through our collective efforts, we can still come together as a community, while staying apart.”

Along with clean up initiatives such as city-led litter, illegal dumping and graffiti removal, a number of beautification projects will also be taking place, which include increased decorative street lighting and installation of public art street banners.

While asking that individuals respect the physical distancing guidelines, the City is providing a sign-up portal to support households and small groups looking to organize community clean-ups. Large item pick-ups and supplies can be requested through the service.

The Community Enhancement Partnership (CEP) program provides Neighbourhood Enhancement Grants of up to $3000 for neighbourhood beautification projects, further encouraging communities to work collectively through individual efforts during this year’s campaign. The CEP program also offers grants for businesses looking to beautify their façade and enhance streetscapes.

Expanding on the clean-up and beautification initiatives, the City of Surrey is asking that residents bring reusable containers when visiting parks and beaches this summer and take all trash and recyclables home.

All of these programs, and more, can be found at surrey.ca/lovewhereyoulive

Share your Love Where You Live contribution by tagging #lovewhereyoulivesurrey on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For a video message from City staff, click here.

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Surrey Should Be Manufacturing Hub and Centre of Excellence for PPE

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Our country should never be held hostage again: Councillor Linda Annis

Councillor Linda Annis wants Surrey to leverage city-owned land to position itself as a national manufacturing hub and centre of excellence for personal protective equipment (PPE).

“If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s just how vulnerable we are as Canadians when it comes to PPE made outside of Canada,” said Annis. “Whether it’s having to return defective overseas products that were poorly made, international bidding wars for scarce supplies, or President Trump telling 3M not to ship masks to Canada, we’ve seen just how tenuous the international supply chain really is and what the risks are for Canadians in a global emergency.

The solution is to make those critical products right here at home, even if they cost more. Going forward, we cannot be held hostage ever again, particularly in a pandemic or international emergency. We talk a lot about the importance of food security, now it’s time to talk about PPE security and the range of emergency products we need that are too often produced outside of Canada. None of us wants to feel that vulnerable ever again.”

Annis said Surrey, which is the size of Vancouver, Burnaby and Richmond combined, is “land rich” and should leverage some of its land for a specialized PPE manufacturing site and “centre of excellence” that partners with universities, hospitals, research labs and governments.

“Not only would we be able to make and secure a range of PPE products, equipment and testing supplies for Canada, but we could also create a centre of excellence that’s at the forefront of PPE equipment, technology and innovation,” added Annis. “For instance, Surrey could provide a long-term land lease for a dollar-a-year, ensuring that we always own our own land, and in return we provide PPE security for our country and generate good local jobs right here in Surrey.”

Annis said watching hospitals and governments struggle to locate PPE equipment and supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic was “a wake-up call” that should make local production a priority.

“Virtually everything we needed was made somewhere other than right here at home,” said Annis. “We cannot be reliant on others during an emergency, it’s up to us to be self-reliant and look after ourselves, which means producing products and equipment right here in Canada and creating a Canadian supply chain we can rely on.”

Annis said the proposed PPE manufacturing site and centre of excellence is the first in a series of COVID-19 economic recovery recommendations for Surrey that she’ll be making over the next two weeks.

“Surrey is going to need to be innovative, creative and dogged in its determination if we’re going to bounce back,” explained Annis. “Half measures aren’t going to be enough. Coming out of COVID-19, the competition is going to be stiff and that means we’ll need to demonstrate in very practical ways that we are open for business and welcome job-creating investments with open arms. This is the perfect time to rethink what we do and how we do it. Across Canada and around the world, there’s going to be a new normal and I want our city to lead rather than follow. But, it means starting now.”

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