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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.

This article was submitted by a reader from the Surrey Community. You can submit your own community story, press release, event or public notice directly to our Community Board today! We also have advertising and promotional options for businesses.

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City of Surrey Is One of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People

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Surrey, BC – The City of Surrey has been named one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People, which recognizes employers who lead the nation in attracting, retaining and developing younger employees. This is the 10th consecutive year that the City has been recognized with this award.

Now in its 19th year, Canada’s Top Employers for Young People is an editorial competition that recognizes employers offering the nation’s best workplaces and programs for young people starting their careers.

Winners of the competition are chosen by the editorial team at the Canada’s Top Employers project on the basis of the programs and initiatives they offer to attract and retain younger workers.

“Attracting and developing diverse young talent is critical to the future growth of Surrey and we are honoured to be recognized for our efforts to make the City of Surrey a great place to work for young people,” said Mayor Doug McCallum.

“The City’s commitment to developing the next generation continues to be a top priority for us as we build Surrey into a vibrant metropolitan centre.”

The City of Surrey aims to attract the best, retain and develop its people while fostering a safe, engaging and desirable workplace. To accomplish this, City provides a number of programs and initiatives to support young people in their career growth. These initiatives include:

  • An extensive learning and development program that seeks to create transformational experiences for staff.
  • Temporary job opportunities such as co-op placements, internships and summer job opportunities for people to gain valuable skills and work experiences.
  • A 2-year Emerging Leaders program to provide high potential employees with training, education, work experience and self-development opportunities.
  • Employee wellness programs that support the physical and mental wellbeing of employees.

For information on a career with the City, visit www.surrey.ca/careers.

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Council Passes Two Bylaws To Make For A Greener City

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In the final regular Council meeting of 2020, Surrey City Council approved two bylaws that will make for a positive environmental impact on the City. Amendments to the Surrey Tree Protection Bylaw will see penalties substantially increased for the illegal cutting of specimen quality trees from $2,000 to $5,000 and for protected trees from $1,000 to $3,000.

The penalty for an offence related to a significant tree has also been increased from $10,000 to $20,000. The fines are per offence. Council has also approved the Plastic Bans and Single-Use Items Bylaw which calls for the ban of plastic shopping bags, foam cups and foam take-out containers.

“While much of the focus of 2020 has been on fighting COVID-19, with a new year almost upon us, there is much hope that a return to normal is on the horizon,” said Mayor Doug McCallum.

“That is why Council is renewing its focus on our environment. The bylaws that were passed at Council’s final meeting of 2020 is a precursor of the priorities we will be placing on bettering Surrey’s environment in the new year.”

“Surrey has long been a leader among municipalities when it comes to sustainability and we are well poised to be leading from the front come 2021,” said Cllr Allison Patton, Chair of the Agriculture, Environment and Investment Committee. “Council will continue to work proactively to ensure that Surrey continues to be at the forefront as a thriving, green and inclusive city.”

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A $45 Million Budget Cut To RCMP In 2021

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“Increasing Population, Increasing Calls To Police, No New Officers Since 2018, Fewer Officers In Proposed Surrey Police Service – And A $45 Million Budget Cut To RCMP In 2021: If You Think This Is a Serious Public Safety Concern, You’re Right”

Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis says public safety in Surrey is facing “a perfect storm” in 2021, all because the mayor and his remaining Safe Surrey Coalition councillors have their priorities all wrong.

“Our population is closing in on 600,000, the annual number of calls to police has grown to nearly 200,000, we haven’t hired any additional RCMP officers since 2018, the proposed local police force actually plans to have fewer officers than we have right now, and the mayor and his remaining councillors have voted to cut the RCMP budget by $45 million in 2021,” said Annis.

“Any one of these issues would be a public safety challenge on its own, but when you add them all together we’re about to face a perfect storm that will hurt public safety in our city in 2021 and beyond.”

Annis said calls to police in 2017 reached 182,540, and in 2019 reached 199,020, with 2020 looking almost the same. By the beginning of December there were 188,920 calls to police, and there are still a couple of weeks left to go in 2020.

“Frankly, I think the mayor and his councillors are playing fast and loose with public safety,” added Annis. “When you don’t provide the resources and officers a growing city needs, you risk putting the community and its families in harm’s way. It’s short-sighted and frankly it’s dangerous.

“Service calls to the police are up and growing, officer numbers are stagnant, and the proposed municipal force actually calls for fewer officers, which is absolutely ridiculous for a city nearing 600,000 residents. Meanwhile, we’re cutting the RCMP budget in 2021.

It makes absolutely no sense. What we should be doing is putting the municipal force on hold and properly funding the RCMP and increasing the number of officers right now. Instead, we are siphoning off every available dollar into the mayor’s Surrey Police Service, all at the expense of public safety issues staring us in the face.”

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Celebrating the holidays safely in Surrey

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With the Public Health Orders extended through the holiday season, we know this is a challenging time for our community. While these measures are not forever, they have been put in place to slow the spread of the virus and save lives. The City is calling on residents to virtually celebrate the holidays with those outside their household and avoid all non-essential travel.

“While this Christmas season will no doubt feel different, we know that the future looks bright with the arrival of vaccines. However, with COVID cases still spiking in the Fraser Health region, it is critical that we stay vigilant by keeping our guard up and doing what we can to protect our most vulnerable population this holiday season,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “While we all must do our part in keeping each other safe there are still many ways we can stay connected and support one another over the Christmas holidays.”

The following are some ideas to celebrate the holiday season safely here in Surrey, while following the provincial health orders:

  1. Walk around your neighbourhood and take in the beautiful lights and decorations set up by homes or businesses as part of the Light Where You Live Campaign.
  2. Surrey Parks are always open for a lovely winter stroll, while following the safety guidelines.
  3. Experience a Victorian Christmas by taking a virtual tour of the Historic Stewart Farm.
  4. Enjoy songs, stories and rhymes with your children on Surrey Libraries Facebook page.
  5. Take traditional holiday celebrations virtual this year, through video apps such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, WhatsApp and FaceTime. Consider a virtual gift unwrapping activity with your family. Share photos or videos of your festive lights with us for a chance to win prizes or enter the Surrey Tree Lighting 12 Days of Giveaways contest!
  6. Participate in Surrey Libraries Christmas activities like Teen Christmas Kahoot! Tournament and Take & Make Crafts.
  7. Take a free online fitness class in the comfort of your own home.
  8. Check out more online activities to enjoy during the holidays at surrey.ca/online-programming.
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City’s Popular Tree Sale Program Expanded

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Surrey, BC – Building on the success of the City’s tree sale program in 2020, the City of Surrey has expanded the program from a once a year event to four times a year.

This past October, the City’s annual tree sale sold out, with over 700 trees purchased by residents and planted in their backyards. Given the overwhelming success of this event, the City will host four tree sale events in 2021.

“The demand that we saw in October made it clear to me that Surrey’s tree sale should not be limited to an annual event,” said Mayor Doug McCallum.

“I am proud to announce that we will hold the City tree sale four times a year. The first one is slated next March and we’ll have up to 1,000 trees available for sale. I want to thank our Parks staff for their work on this very worthwhile initiative, and I want to thank our residents for their enthusiastic support.”

“Planting a tree is good for your neighbourhood, our city and our environment,” said Councillor Allison Patton, Chair of the Agriculture, Environment and Investment Committee.

“I am delighted that the City’s tree sale has been expanded to allow our residents four different times of the year to take advantage of this great program.”

Residents will be able to purchase select tree species online in the weeks leading up to the pick-up days. The first City tree sale of 2021 is planned for Spring Break in March, the second in April will correspond with Earth Day and Party for the Planet, the third in early autumn, and the fourth in mid autumn. Up to 1,000 trees will be made available for sale during each event.

The City will be issuing reminders on social media as the date of the tree sales approaches.

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