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Civic Distinction Awards 2020 Nominations Are Now Open

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The Surrey Civic Distinction Awards 2020 nominations are now open.

The 2020 Civic Distinction Awards (formerly City Awards) are awards of excellence that acknowledge business and community leaders who have made a major contribution to the City of Surrey in their respective fields. By recognizing their work, these awards foster a culture of excellence in Surrey and highlight the people and projects that are leading the way. The award recipients will be announced in early December 2020.

These awards are held every four years and include the following Award Categories: Beautification and Enhancement Award, Design Award, Environmental Award, Heart Award, Arts and Heritage Award, Mayor’s Choice Award and Sport Tourism Award.

Nominate a Surrey resident, organization, group or business at surrey.ca/awards for an award of excellence and demonstrate your civic pride by recognizing outstanding projects that positively impact the City of Surrey.

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City Council Approves Land Purchase For Future Park And Community Centre In Newton

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At last night’s Regular Council Meeting, City Council approved the purchase of 16 connecting parcels of land with a total land area of 7.24 acres in the heart of Newton. The purchase of these properties are for the expressed purpose for use as future parkland, civic amenities, and facilities.

“The purchase of this land is a first and tangible step in addressing the needs of the growing community of Newton,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “The vision that Council and I share is to build a new community centre and a neighbourhood park that can be easily accessed by the residents of Newton. Surrey is renowned for our community amenities and Council is always looking at creative ways on how we can build and expand on this enviable legacy.”

15 of the 16 properties at King George Blvd and 70A Ave. currently sit vacant and include the site of the former Rona Revy home improvement centre. Future development of these lands would be subject to funding availability and a public consultation process. More information can be found here.

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Surrey Police: Liberals Promises vs. The NDP’s Resolute NO

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Amid the current Provincial Election, it would appear that the police transition is the hot topic for voters in Surrey. While there are promises of hospitals and schools and many other of the usual election campaign promises, the topic most discussed remains the police transition.

The biggest unanswered question is – does Mayor and council have the support of the Surrey taxpayers to make the transition from the current police force to a new city police force?

Keep the RCMP in Surrey supporters say the answer is no. The 60,000 voters in Surrey have signed their petition which would be a strong indication that Surrey voters don’t support the transition.

Those in support of the city police force say that the decision was made when the Mayor and his Safe Surrey Coalition won the municipal election and there needs be no more discussion about it.

Most still firmly on the fence are asking for more information such as the cost to taxpayers, the advantages of the transition and how they will know the process was free of outside influence.

Without answers to these crucial questions, it would be hard to make an informed decision about something which will affect each taxpayer both by seeing an increase in their taxes or by their interactions with the police in future. This is one decision which affects us all.

Those who feel that they are at the mercy of a corrupt mayor and council, want the province to intervene. Those who voted for the Mayor want the province to stay out of municipal affairs.

The NDP stated that this was a municipal matter which could not be interfered with, but many legal experts say that isn’t the case. As the municipalities rights under law are carved from the provincial rights under law, they feel that the province has a mandate to step in.

The campaign to keep the RCMP in Surrey is non-partisan but they have encouraged their 60,000 supporters to vote for whatever party will assist them in getting an answer to the question of what Surrey taxpayers really want. This group wants a referendum. They believe that the voters should have a change to have their say in something which will affect liveability and affordability in this city.

The Liberal party has promised, if elected, to hold a referendum on this issue and that has many voters now talking about their possible choices. While the polls had put the NDP firmly in power in Surrey, with most citizens saying they were happy with their performance to date and many quick to reference the Liberals many missteps of the past, many who said they would never vote Liberal are now looking up their liberal candidates.

The question being asked now is, can the Liberals be trusted to deliver on this promise? While a referendum would not be binding on the municipality, it would answer the question once and for all as to the support the Mayor and Safe Surrey coalition has for this transition.

Ian Scott, the determined leader of the Keep the RCMP movement, has said that if the referendum came back that the majority of voters wanted this transition, then he would accept that decision.

The implication being that the organization would back off. However, if the referendum shows that the majority of taxpayers do not want the transition to proceed, then he would be doubling his efforts and the efforts of his team to demand that voters and taxpayers are heard.

To that end, Ian Scott has sent a letter to each candidate asking them for their personal view on this issue and with that response in mind, he is advising his supporters to vote accordingly.

Some of those letters are now coming back but they did receive one response from the provincial NDP which reads as follows:

Dear Keep the RCMP in Surrey Campaign, Thank you for your survey concerning the issue of Surrey policing.

The responsibility to provide policing lies with the city governments for all BC communities of over 5,000 people. That is why we believe that concerns about the city’s decision to change policing, a municipal service, must be addressed with the Surrey City Council.

The role of the provincial government when it comes to municipal policing: to ensure that public safety is maintained. And that is what we will continue to do.

The leader of the BC Liberals has been trying to muddy the waters but has been unclear about what he would actually do. Only a few weeks ago, Andrew Wilkinson admitted that he was “not close enough to the issue to have thoughtful things to say about it” (CKNW, September 23).

Now, the BC Liberal leader has suggested he would hold a referendum but he doesn’t know or won’t say if it would be advisory or binding until after the election. (CKNW, October 5, 2020).

He created even more uncertainty when he was asked by CBC if the referendum would be binding, saying: “That has to be determined because obviously you gotta figure out exactly what the question is first and you gotta figure out what the information is which will drive the question.”

Wilkinson’s ambiguity has created even more division in his effort to gain votes: he has no clear position. Conflicting comments from BC Liberal MLAs only create further confusion:

Stephanie Cadieux: “We don’t want to comment on the merits of a municipal force over the RCMP or vice versa. […] We respect that this is by statute, a municipal decision to move forward.” (July 6, 2020 Facebook)

Just before Wilkinson’s sudden campaign promise, Cadieux also said: “I don’t know if a referendum is the right answer.” (Oct 6, Peace Arch News)

The Police Act states that when it comes to municipalities with more than 5,000 people, it is the municipality that is responsible for decisions about how to provide law enforcement in their community.

Despite all the controversy, we in the BC NDP are committed to strong public safety policies for every BC community and we will fulfill that provincial responsibility.

Sincerely, BC NDP

This response seems to indicate that the supporters of Keep the RCMP in Surrey will not be getting any assistance from the NDP and as such they will likely be directing their votes elsewhere.

While the letter does take some jabs at Andrew Wilkinson and quotes comments from the early summer, it is clear that at this point the Liberals are standing behind their promise of a referendum but just what the long-term outcome of that will be remains uncertain.

It will be interesting to see how many of the Surrey voters will be influenced by this. If the number of supporters on the continuing petition are anything to go by, this should make the NDP contenders nervous as the Liberals will continue to use this issue to their advantage in this upcoming election.

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New Storyboard Honours Victims of Komagata Maru

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Photo (left to right): Raj Singh Toor, Vice President of the Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society, Surrey Councillor Mandeep Nagra, and Mayor Doug McCallum honor victims of Komagata Maru with the new heritage storyboard.

Storyboard unveiled at R.A. Nicholson Park

Surrey, BC – Mayor and members of City Council unveiled a new heritage storyboard titled Remembering the Komagata Maru at a local Surrey park this week. Raj Singh Toor, representing the Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society, was also on hand for the unveiling.

“This storyboard is an important reflection on a significant moment in Canadian history,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “Surrey is a diverse City, and we embrace people from all over the world. This permanent storyboard reinforces that we will learn from, and not forget the injustices of the past. Racism has no place in our City.”

“We can’t undo the past, but we can move forward and leave a legacy for future generations by educating them about the past,” said Raj Singh Toor, Vice President of the Descendants of the Komagata Maru Society. “This new storyboard will help educate the community and remind us of Surrey’s diverse makeup. I hope that it will help in connecting British Columbians, Canadians and Surrey residents with their past, in order to build a more peaceful and tolerant tomorrow.”

In 2019, Council supported recommendations from the Surrey Heritage Advisory Commission to conduct research into the earliest South Asians in Surrey, deliver programming relevant to Surrey’s diverse communities, and to create a heritage storyboard reflecting on the Komagata Maru incident and systemic racism.

Each year, the Surrey Heritage Advisory Commission funds new heritage storyboards and other interpretive features throughout the City. This program ensures Surrey’s diverse history is accessible in locations city-wide. To date, over 50 heritage storyboards exist across the City.

The storyboard is located in R.A. Nicholson Park, 12140 75A Avenue, not far from the Komagata Maru mural and commemorative street signs on 75A Avenue. The storyboard is located on the pedestrian path just behind the Strawberry Hill Hall.

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Surrey’s Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy honoured with two National awards

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Surrey, BCSurrey’s Coastal Flood Adaptation Strategy (CFAS) has received national recognition from the Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) and the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) for excellence in environmental planning.

“Our CFAS plan is making historic investments to protect and improve the environment and natural infrastructure our residents depend on,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “These awards demonstrate our unwavering commitment to building Surrey’s resilience to coastal flooding and sea level rise, further protecting our communities, economy and environment.””

The City was presented the 2020 CAMA Environment Award, in the 100,000+ population category, during the Virtual Awards of Excellence Ceremony held on October 1, 2020. CAMA’s Environment Award recognizes the commitment of environmentally sustainable governance in combating climate change. Surrey’s CFAS was honoured for making a positive impact on the environment by presenting innovative nature-based solutions to flood control and prioritizing the environment as a key value in the decision-making process in developing the strategy.

This award follows recognition from the Canadian Institute of Planners’ awards on July 8, 2020, with CFAS receiving the Award of Merit for Planning Excellence for Climate Change Planning. Honouring planning projects on their excellence, innovation, impact on the profession and implementation potential, CFAS was praised for developing actions with a comprehensive, community-driven approach. The jury highlighted Surrey’s method in engaging citizens and stakeholders using a range of innovative planning techniques to help increase understanding of technically complex challenges.

The City is taking action on this award-winning strategy with 13 projects funded in part by the Government of Canada. Learn more at surrey.ca/coastaltakingaction.

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Surrey Voters Should Demand Zero Tolerance For School Portables: Councillor Linda Annis

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Provincial election candidates should be challenged to support ridding Surrey of portables.

Surrey, B.C.: Councillor Linda Annis is calling on provincial election candidates in Surrey’s nine ridings to support a “zero tolerance” approach to the problem of school portables in Surrey. Annis said the current process for planning, funding and building schools in Surrey has “missed the mark” and the provincial government needs a more creative solution as BC’s largest school district continues with more than 350 school portables.

“Earlier this year, the school district proposed a budget to reduce the number of portables by almost half over a five year period, but by then thousands of additional students will be here,” added Annis. “What this means is that Surrey parents and students are being told to just get used to living with portables as a permanent fixture, something that Surrey voters and families shouldn’t accept. If we don’t take a zero tolerance approach to the issue of portables, they will become a permanent fixture in our city and students and their tax-paying parents deserve better.”

Annis said the province and the city need to re-think the current method of planning, funding and building schools, and city hall has a role to play here because of responsibility for zoning, development, and permits. “I’d like the city to work with the province and the school district to take a new approach that will get students out of portables permanently,” explained Annis.

Annis said one of the best solutions for delivering schools faster and more efficiently is found in Saskatchewan, where a public-private partnership bundles multiple school construction projects and builds them at one time. As a result, the private sector partner is responsible for delivering the schools on time, on budget and with savings to taxpayers because of the efficiencies that come with economies of scale and bulk buying.

“This model works and it means schools are being built faster and at less cost to taxpayers,” noted Annis. “In addition, their school designs allow for modular additions that are actually part of the school, unlike portables that are parked next door. At the same time, the private sector partner is responsible for maintenance and upkeep. The fact is, governments are notorious when it comes to not keeping up with maintenance, particularly when budgets are tight.

As a result, they will often simply defer the work that’s needed. In the Saskatchewan model, the private sector partner doesn’t have that option and as a result maintenance and upkeep are not allowed to slide.” Annis said provincial candidates need to demonstrate that they are serious about getting rid of portables in Surrey.

“Surrey kids should not be in portables, there is absolutely no need for that, particularly if the province is prepared to take a zero tolerance approach. Surrey is growing every year, that’s a reality and something we’re proud of, “ added Annis. “But don’t punish Surrey students because they live in a popular place where people want to live. As a city we can also do more, particularly when it comes to fast-tracking land assembly, zoning and permits so that schools can be built faster and more efficiently.” Annis said Victoria “shouldn’t be afraid” when it comes to adopting good ideas from other places, such as Saskatchewan.

“If our nine Surrey MLAs don’t think outside of the existing process then we shouldn’t be surprised that portables are a fixture in the lives of far too many students here in Surrey,” said Annis. “This election, we should be challenging candidates and asking them if they support a zero tolerance approach to finally ridding our city of portables, once and for all.”

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