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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.”

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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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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