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Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update from Mayor Doug McCallum

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As you have heard from the statements made today by Prime Minister Trudeau and our Provincial Health Minister and Health Officer, increased measures are being taken in the fight against COVID-19.

The City of Surrey has taken steps to minimize the risk of transmission of the virus. Yesterday afternoon, I ordered the closure of all City recreation centres, ice arenas, culture facilities, museums, pools and libraries until further notice. This was a proactive measure that was done in in the best interests of public health.

For the time being, spring break camps and daycare facilities run by the City of Surrey are continuing based on the most current guidelines provided by the Provincial Health Officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control. These programs are a valuable service to families who are working during this unprecedented time of COVID-19. We know the situation is fluid and we are monitoring it closely with Fraser Health. If the continued programming of our day camps and daycares is deemed unsafe for our children or staff, they will be shut down immediately.

In these anxious times, we all need to look out for one another, that is why I am so disheartened when I hear of hoarding or panic buying of basic items and, worst of all, reports of people who are reselling these items to make a quick buck.

To the storeowners and retailers who sell items in high demand, I urge you to put limits on them.

To those who are stockpiling or reselling, I appeal to your basic humanity to stop this kind of behaviour because it’s not only irrational but you are benefiting at the expense of someone in your community.

As we head into this next phase of the fight against COVID-19, it is vital that we have the self-discipline to follow through with the health protocols that have been put in place to minimize the spread of the virus. I also want to remind everyone to take care of themselves both physically and mentally.

It can be easy to be overwhelmed by the daily rush of events, that’s why it’s important to stay active by getting some fresh air. Take a walk, go for a run or a bike ride in our beaches and parks. Conversely, getting adequate sleep is equally important.

With our recreational programs affected by the closure, the City of Surrey will be posting on our website, in the next few days, videos by our fitness and yoga instructors that can be done at home. I hope our residents make use of them to help them stay active and mentally healthy.

Finally, I want to make special mention of our seniors. They are one sector of the population where I ask everyone to do their bit to support them. Yes, we have to be mindful of social distancing, but that doesn’t mean we have to lose all human connection. So, pick up your phone and make a call, or facetime, or text a loved one or a friend.

The best way to get through this is if we come together and look out for one another.

Mayor Doug McCallum

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 Should Look To UBC Properties Trust as Model for its Lands

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Selling off city land means selling off our future: Councillor Linda Annis

Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis says she is increasingly worried that the mayor’s recent decision to disband the Surrey City Development Corporation (SCDC) and bring it inside city hall will lead to the eventual sale of city land, rather than leveraging the land through long-term leases that generate ongoing revenue for Surrey, while retaining ownership.

Rather than selling off city land, Annis said Surrey should be looking at the UBC Properties Trust model which generates ongoing revenue through long-term leases, while UBC continues to own its land.

“We can learn a lot from the UBC model which typically leases for 99 years. In the process UBC takes home a big dividend each year, giving the university an ongoing and sustainable stream of new revenue,” explained Annis. “In fact, since its inception in 1988, the trust has endowed UBC with $2 billion.”

Annis said land is the City of Surrey’s most valuable city asset and needs to be protected for future generations.

“We have only so much city land and when it’s gone it’s gone,” noted Annis. “Today our land portfolio is worth some $250 million, and we should be leasing it, rather than selling it for a quick hit of cash that does nothing for the future of our city.”

Annis said selling off the city’s land is both short-sighted and a poor business model. “Over the past seven years, SCDC has paid the city $36 million in dividends and has a cumulative surplus of $46 million for reinvestment in future projects,” said Annis.

Annis said she will introduce a notice of motion at the virtual city council meeting on July 27 that calls for one of the major accounting and consulting firms to review Surrey’s land portfolio and make business model recommendations that leverage the land through leasing, rather than selling it.

“We need a model that puts our land to work, but keeps it owned by the people of Surrey,” said Annis. “The UBC Properties Trust model is certainly worth looking at and its results for UBC are terrific and long lasting,” explained Annis. “I worry that when our land is inside city hall it also becomes vulnerable to politics, where it becomes too easy to simply sell off our land as a knee-jerk decision or way to solve a temporary issue such as a deficit.

“Our city’s land assets belong to everyone in Surrey, including future generations,” added Annis. “Every Surrey city council should be looking to make sure we hold onto our land for generations to come. When we own our land we have options, opportunities and dividends for years to come. But, when that land is sold we get one cheque and that’s it, it’s gone for good.”

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Surrey launches Enjoy Summer in Surrey campaign encouraging residents to discover local outdoor amenities

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Surrey, BC – The City of Surrey is encouraging residents to play local and stay local with the new Enjoy Summer in Surrey campaign, aimed at highlighting the many low-cost and free outdoor activities available across one of Canada’s most livable cities.

“As we all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 this summer, we are fortunate that we live in a city that has so many outdoor activities and amenities for all to enjoy,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “I invite everyone to explore Surrey’s urban forests, nature trails and parks, while staying active and healthy with your family. We don’t have to go far to re-discover and enjoy beautiful BC this summer. It’s all here at our doorstep.”

A centralized hub, surrey.ca/summerinsurrey is available to help residents plan their staycation, highlighting local water sports, shoreline walks, unique picnic spots and nature trails, as well as outdoor fitness and outdoor sports amenities in Surrey.

This public campaign includes informing residents of weekly location and activity highlights through surrey.ca, social media, news & updates, digital billboard ads and local transit shelter ads. Residents are encouraged to share their favourite location and activity ideas using the hashtag #mycityofsurrey.

While Enjoying Summer in Surrey, we can all do our part in keeping our community, public spaces, and each other safe by taking proper health measures by observing physical distancing, having your own hand sanitizer, and staying home if sick.

For more information, and to watch the Enjoy Summer in Surrey video go to www.surrey.ca/summerinsurrey

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City Council appoints Surrey’s first Ethics Commissioner

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The City of Surrey is the first municipality in British Columbia to establish the position of Ethics Commissioner. After a nationwide search for a suitable candidate and the receipt of applications from over 30 well qualified candidates, Council has unanimously appointed Reece Harding as the City of Surrey’s first Ethics Commissioner.

Mr. Harding is a partner with Young, Anderson and has extensive experience working with local governments on an operational, administrative, and elected level. He has appeared on behalf of local governments in every level of court in Canada.

“While there was no shortage of qualified candidates for the position of Ethics Commissioner, Reece Harding’s comprehensive experience in municipal law, advising elected officials on responsible conduct, and conflict resolution and his high standing among his peers makes him the right person to fill this important role at the City of Surrey,” said Mayor Doug McCallum.

“On behalf of Council, I want to congratulate Reece as he begins his new duties as Ethics Commissioner. I would also like to thank the Ethics Selection Committee for their diligence and hard work in assisting the City in the recruiting process.”

As an independent officer, the role of the Ethics Commissioner role is to advise and assist Council on how best to enhance open, transparent, and accountable governance. The mandate of the Ethics Commissioner’s also includes the authority to investigate complaints and make disciplinary recommendations to Council.

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Limited List Of Openings Proves The Point: Surrey Mayor Is Keeping Facilities Closed To Pay $129 Million Police Transition Bill

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Surrey residents deserve to have their pools, rinks, rec centres
and libraries opened now, says Councillor Linda Annis

Surrey, BC: Councillor Linda Annis says a city press release distributed Friday afternoon outlining the limited opening of a handful of city facilities reinforces that the mayor is keeping rinks, rec centres, pools, seniors centres and libraries closed to help pay his $129 million police transition bill.

“One look at the list and you can see it’s all the low-hanging fruit, a handful of easy outdoor facilities and programs that don’t cost much at all,” said Annis. “Closing our facilities when Covid-19 hit us was the right thing to do, but now it’s time to reopen our pools, rinks, rec centres, libraries and seniors centres in ways that meet the provincial health guidelines.

Stores, restaurants and other facilities have all found creative and effective ways to re-open safely, and so should our city facilities. Instead, we have some of the province’s best public facilities sitting empty, all to save money so the mayor can pay for his police department. We have really smart staff and terrific facility managers, don’t tell me that if they were given the green light to open that they couldn’t figure out how to do it and run their facilities safely. Our teams are terrific, but that’s not the direction they’ve been given.”

Over the past week Annis has been posting pictures of closed pools, rinks, seniors centres, libraries and rec centres across the city on Twitter and Facebook. “For instance, the new Clayton rec centre is completed, but sitting behind fencing because it was closed even before it opened,” noted Annis.

‘Important public amenities like these make cities more livable and they are really important for our kids, seniors and families. If the mayor wanted them open they’d be open, but every day they remain closed he can siphon off more money to pay the costs that are mounting around his police department.”

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Safe re-openings of recreational facilities during COVID-19

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During this time of pandemic, ensuring the heath and safety of our residents, patrons and staff are the principles that determine the re-opening of City of Surrey recreational facilities. “It is unfortunate that there has been misinformation circulated about the closures of our recreational facilities,” said Councillor Laurie Guerra, Chair of the Parks, Recreation and Culture Committee.

“Our recreational facilities were closed on March 15 due to COVID-19 and not from budgetary pressures. Since June 1, we have re-opened to the public a number of outdoor facilities and programs. We are continuing to develop plans for the opening of additional facilities in the coming weeks and are working closely with our sports community on safety plans that will prepare them to return to sport when the facilities re-open.

I encourage our residents to make use of our facilities as they become available, and to help us keep them open by taking proper health measures by observing physical distancing, having your own hand sanitizer and staying home if you are sick.”

The City of Surrey is taking a safe and phased approach to the re-opening of parks, recreation and culture facilities. Re-openings are approved based on the ability to support the BC’s Restart Plan, and satisfy the Council approved criteria:

  1. Ability to comply with new Provincial Health Order
  2. Reasonable public demand for services
  3. Financial viability
  4. Public and employee safety measures are in place

Based on the criteria the following facilities and services have re-opened:

  • June 1 – Surrey public playgrounds
  • June 2 – Darts Hill Garden Park
  • June 15 – Spray (Water) Parks
  • June 17 – Resume issuance of permits for outdoor sport facilities
  • June 27 – Outdoor pools
  • June 27 – Lifeguard service at Crescent Beach
  • July 6 – Outdoor Summer preschool and children camps
  • July 6 – Outdoor fitness classes
  • July 14 – Historic Stewart Farm

City Staff continue to work on enhanced protocols and procedures to ensure environments will be safe and welcoming upon re-opening. The City is also following guidance from the BC & Yukon Lifesaving Society, British Columbia Recreation and Parks Association (BCRPA) and VIA Sport as reopening plans are developed. More information on Surrey’s response to COVID-19 can be found here.

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