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Surrey residents want Uber and Lyft immediately: Councillor Linda Annis

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Surrey, B.C: Councillor Linda Annis wants Surrey residents to have immediate access to Uber and Lyft, just like residents of Vancouver. Annis is calling on the mayor and city staff to ensure ride hailing is available in Surrey and that going forward there are “no obstacles or political games being played” that would restrict or hinder Uber and Lyft from serving Surrey customers.

“We’ve all waited long enough, it’s time to get on with it,” said Annis. “The monopoly of the tax owners is over and Surrey residents should have the same access to Uber and Lyft as Vancouverites. I want assurances from the mayor and our city staff that there will be no more obstacles and that our residents can access this new transportation option immediately. I’m hoping the mayor will stand up for 550,000 Surrey residents, rather than a handful of tax company owners who have had a monopoly for decades.”

Annis said she supports the proposed regional license that would allow Uber and Lyft to operate right across the region. At the same time, Annis says taxi boundaries should be a thing of the past and that taxis should be allowed to pick-up and drop-off anywhere in metro Vancouver.

“The old rules do nothing but protect the monopoly of a handful of taxi owners, and do nothing for the drivers or Surrey residents,” said Annis. “Frankly, governments should get out of the way and let the market and consumers decide what’s best. The times are changing and riders want more choices, so let’s try and catch up with the rest of the world.”

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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