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2021 Proposed Surrey City Budget, 2.9 per cent Residential Tax Increase Just The Start: Councillor Linda Annis

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Flat rate parcel tax increase paid by all homeowners will hurt moderately-priced homes the most

Surrey, B.C.: Councillor Linda Annis says Surrey’s proposed city budget for 2021 will see residential tax increases well beyond 2.9 per cent promised by the mayor, and will hurt moderately priced homes and their owners the most.

“The 2.9 per cent increase is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Annis. “With this proposed budget you can expect to see your tax bill climb by much more than 2.9 per cent, particularly if you live in a moderately priced home. For instance, the flat rate parcel tax is going to triple from $100 to $300, and because it’s a flat rate it will burden moderate and lower-priced homes and their owners the most.”

Annis said the proposed increases come at the worst possible time as insolvencies across Canada climbed by 19 per cent in September, the highest number since COVID-19 began impacting the economy in March, and some 760,000 Canadians have deferred mortgage payments during the pandemic.

Annis explained that the flat rate parcel tax charged each year is distinct and separate from property value taxes and is to be used only for infrastructure. It cannot be used to recover general administration costs. No matter the value of your home, every home pays the same amount for a parcel tax.

“I believe the mayor wants to use the parcel tax to finance community facilities that would normally be financed out of your property taxes,” added Annis. “But because of the growing costs associated with the proposed Surrey Police Department, the one city budget item that hasn’t been hit by the cost of COVID-19 belt tightening, those dollars are not there.

While we closed pools, rinks and rec centres and laid off staff across the city that wasn’t the case for the proposed SPD which just kept on spending, including using city staff without properly charging their time to the police transition which helped to hide real police costs.”

Annis said the tripling of the parcel tax means homeowners with a $700,000 home will face an overall tax increase of more than 15 per cent while a home worth $1 million will see a tax increase of almost 12 per cent.

“Because the parcel tax is flat right across the board it will impact residents with moderately-priced homes the most,” said Annis. “With so many people and businesses struggling financially because of COVID-19, it’s hard to justify these kind of increases right now, particularly when we’re diverting every possible dollar to the police transition costs at the expense of other city services.”

In addition to taxes climbing well beyond 2.9 per cent Annis, said this year’s budget process continues to reflect the mayor’s complete lack of transparency and consultation with the community, “something that has become a hallmark” of this particular mayor and his four remaining councillors.

“The city is also borrowing money to build new capital projects and normally that would not be an issue,” noted Annis. “However, with the city increasing taxes, it begs the question about the current state of the city’s finances.”

Annis said the public can provide comments on the proposed city budget at an upcoming city Finance Committee meeting to be held Monday, November 30 at 2:00 P.M.

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 Libraries Offers Access to O’Reilly eBooks and Videos

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Surrey Libraries is excited to announce the addition of O’Reilly eBooks to its list of online resources. This platform offers over 35,000 eBooks and 30,000 hours of video courses on technology, business, design, science, engineering, travel, hobbies, health and more, all free with a Surrey Libraries card!

O’Reilly has books and videos for makers, gamers and tinkerers. There are more than 100 hobbyist titles including a STEAM Lab for Kids and The Lego Build-It Book, Volumes 1 & 2. More than 900 books from the “For Dummies” series are included, as well as over 150 titles on job-seeking and career development.

The resource also has technology learning paths like SQL Fundamentals – SQL for Data Analysis and Database Design, case studies like “Pinterest’s Journey to the Cloud,” and countless hours of video instruction on topics like Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, Linux Fundamentals, or Amazon Web Services.

O’Reilly is one of many online resources Surrey Libraries offers its members. No library card? No problem! Sign up for a card online or visit any one of ten branch locations.

We’re excited to welcome you back to our branches! Check our website for information on hours and available services and what we’re doing to keep everyone safe.

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Surrey Could Have The Most Expensive Police Department In The Province: Councillor Linda Annis

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SPS is paying a premium for officers and taxpayers will be paying the bill: Councillor Linda Annis

Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis believes Doug McCallum’s police department could end up being the most expensive in the province.

Annis wants the board of the Surrey Police Service to provide a side-by-side comparison of police salaries paid by the RCMP, Vancouver Police Department, Surrey Police Service and other municipal police forces in British Columbia.

“It certainly looks like Surrey is paying a hefty premium to recruit officers into the SPS, and every one of those dollars will have to be paid by our Surrey taxpayers,” said Annis.

“I’ve always warned that when it comes to the mayor’s police department, we should all get ready for sticker shock.”

Annis said after one year of service, an RCMP constable is paid $74,916. Meanwhile the salary of a first year SPS constable is $80,880, $6,000 more. In addition, the federal government subsidizes RCMP salaries in Surrey, which means the city saves 10 per cent.

A similar comparison of second year constables shows the RCMP’s salary at $80,786, with the Vancouver Police Department paying $82,181, and the SPS paying $86,272.

“When you compare what we will be paying for the SPS, the RCMP are an incredible bargain for our taxpayers,” added Annis.

“Even if you take away the federal subsidy, the cost of the RCMP is still well below what we’re about to pay for SPS officers. Clearly, the mayor’s promise that his police department would cost just 10 per cent more doesn’t even come close to the truth or the real cost to our city.”

Annis said the mayor and the SPS board owe the taxpayers of Surrey a side-by-side comparison of salaries, and that comparison should include the RCMP, the VPD and other municipal forces in the province.

“With these salaries and the ever-increasing transition costs, it’s easy to conclude that Surrey could end up with the most expensive police department in the province, all because Doug McCallum made a promise he knew he could not keep when it comes to the real cost of his police department. A side-by-side comparison of salaries is a good place to start and something taxpayers deserve to see.”

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Will Surrey Get its Own Police Service in 2024? Here’s What We Know!

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Headlines earlier this year brought both excitement and disappointment to residents across the City, as chief Norm Lipinski said the Surrey Police Service could be operational by 2024.

“I am honoured to lead Surrey through this important transition towards a more modern, inclusive, accountable, and community-based policing model,” said Lipinski in a statement released by the Surrey Police Board.

“I look forward to working closely with Surrey’s diverse communities to learn more about their priorities and building a service to meet the needs of this rapidly growing and dynamic city.”

Lipinski was appointed as the Chief Constable of the Surrey Police Service on November 20, 2020 during step 12, of a 14 step timeline designed to phase out the RCMP.

The RCMP has been serving Surrey for over 70 years since its inception back in 1951, and during this time, many residents have grown to both love and hate the national service.

A survey in 2019 conducted by the City of Vancouver, City of Surrey, and the RCMP, revealed that many citizens believe Surrey should have its own municipal police service.

Surrey is currently BC’s second most populous city, and is expected to surpass Vancouver by 2041.

With almost 520,000 people calling Surrey home, the City has “transformed from a small suburban community into a major metropolitan hub.”

Furthermore, Surrey is one of 19 Canadian communities with a population of more than 300,000 residents, but remains the only city without a local police department.

Not to mention, Surrey is also 28 times larger than the average community policed by the RCMP, making it an outlier among both major Canadian cities and RCMP jurisdictions.

Thus, the push for the City’s own police force was inevitable and the transition officially began in 2018, when the Surrey City Council passed a motion to “take all appropriate steps to immediately create a Surrey Police Department for its residents and businesses.”

Since then, the journey to this point has been tumultuous, and a centre for criticism. Some residents feel that there is a lack of transparency to the public, including Scott Buchanan, a youth care counselor.

“Due to the outrageous costs, limited benefits, and lack of transparency of such a transition, this is an action that I have never supported,” Buchanan said in a letter to the Vancouver Sun.

“I believe the Surrey RCMP have always provided excellent service to our community and I cannot conceptualize, or justify, the need to dissolve this institution and replace it with a watered-down version,” Buchanan continued.

Since planning for the Surrey Police Service began, “transition costs have tripled from the original estimate, COVID-19 has placed significant stress on communities across the province, and recruitment efforts have stalled leading to early resignations.”

As a result, the transition to the Surrey Police Service has been delayed by at least two years.

On April 15, the President of the National Police Federation, Brian Sauvé, said that staff with the City of Surrey will explore a referendum on the planned police transition.

The National Police Federation is pleased that Surrey City Council directed staff to further explore a motion to hold a referendum on the police transition at this week’s Council meeting.”

“We have been a consistent voice supporting the right of Surrey citizens to have their say on this important issue. The Mayor cannot hide behind an election that took place over two and a half years ago when so much has changed,” said Sauvé.

The National Police Federation is calling on the City and the Province to give voters the final say on this “costly, unnecessary, and disorganized transition.”

Thus, after years of planning and preparation, with just 2 steps left to fulfill on the City’s 14 step timeline to phase out the RCMP, there is a chance that the national police service will be here to stay after all.

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SMH Sim Lab Trains Healthcare Workers To Handle COVID-19

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Photo: Surrey Memorial Hospital Simulation Lab program training frontline healthcare workers

Surrey Memorial Hospital Simulation Lab is Game Changer in Training Healthcare Workers to Handle COVID-19 Pandemic Crisis

Surrey Hospitals Foundation Investing $100,000 in New Simulation Technology

The Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) Simulation Lab has been credited as a “game changer” in helping train healthcare workers to better handle COVID-19 pandemic crisis situations.

The Surrey Hospitals Foundation is investing another $100,000 for new simulation technologies for the SMH Simulation Lab, contributing a total of $1.3 million including seed funding since 2015.

The SMH simulation Lab is one of two regional simulation centres supporting the Fraser Health region. It is a partnership between Surrey Memorial Hospital, Fraser Health and the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine.

“Our Simulation Lab has been very successful in training and preparing healthcare workers in various emergency situations and ever since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it has been instrumental in helping frontline hospital staff handle crisis situations,” says Lisa Ewart, Clinical Practice Consultant and Simulation Program Lead in Fraser Health.

“In addition, our Simulation Lab has facilitated and identified ongoing improvements in healthcare procedures, especially related to COVID-19, that has been adopted and implemented across the region.”

Between March and June 2020 alone, the SMH Simulation Lab has conducted 217 COVID-19 process simulations and trained over 900 hospital staff, using scenarios that were developed based on current pandemic guidelines from the Emergency Operations Committee.

These simulations occurred in emergency, intensive care, cardiac care, medical/surgical cohort units, COVID-19 testing centers and involved interdisciplinary participation.

The SMH Simulation Lab allows learners to practice high risk, low-frequency procedures – such as trauma from a car accident, or how to care for a patient in a pandemic – in a safe, risk-free environment.

Simulation encourages team training, by building on teamwork and communication skills, identifying roles or practicing use of protocols during a crisis or code blue situations.

The Simulation Lab supports healthcare workers, hospital staff, students, social workers, lab technicians and other learning groups such as community first responders.

Pediatric Emergency Department Simulation Practice

The Simulation Lab also takes part in the Surrey Hospital Foundation’s Mini Med School Education Program which gives high school students an opportunity to explore a variety of medical specialties with small-group workshops with physicians and technicians.

Interesting facts about the Surrey Memorial Hospital Simulation Lab:

  • 3 high tech rooms, 2 debrief rooms, 3 skill rooms, 1 virtual reality surgical simulation room.
  • Pediatric simulations to support pediatric emergency department, child health centre and pediatric psychiatry.
  • In 2020 alone, the SIM Lab completed more than 2,400 hours of simulation education and more than 800 simulation sessions compared to 401 hours and 153 sessions in 2016.
  • The pediatric mannequins that were bought in 2020 have been used in more than 60 simulations sessions and over 110 hours of clinical training.
  • The adult mannequins from 2015 have had 17,000 compressions, been ventilated 2,400 times and been shocked 700 times.

“Our Foundation provided the seed funding when the SIM lab was first launched in 2015, and we are proud to continue supporting this crucially important education program to help improve the quality of our healthcare and health outcomes of our patients,” says Jane Adams, President and CEO of the Surrey Hospitals Foundation.

About Surrey Hospitals Foundation:

Surrey Hospitals Foundation is the largest non-government funder of health care for families in Surrey and surrounding Fraser Valley communities.

The Foundation supports the major health facilities in the region, Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) and Jim Pattison Outpatient Care and Surgery Centre (JPOCSC), as well as numerous specialized programs for newborns, children, adults and seniors.

The Foundation invests in the future of health care by funding innovative research in Surrey that can lead to medical breakthroughs.

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Vaccinations Cancel Cloverdale Rodeo

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2021 Cloverdale Rodeo cancelled to support vaccinations

Organizers promise an action-packed celebration in May 2022

Surrey, B.C. – The 2021 edition of the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair has been cancelled by the event’s organizers in order to help get more people vaccinated faster.

Fraser Health is providing COVID-19 ‘mass vaccinations’ at the Cloverdale Recreation Centre, located at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds now through the end of the year. The Cloverdale Rodeo is supporting this initiative by committing a significant portion of the Fairgrounds for free public parking.

“We support everyone that is getting vaccinated,” states Shannon Claypool, President of the Cloverdale Rodeo & Exhibition Association. The decision to forfeit space for vaccinations will result in a loss of income for the Association.

Claypool explains the Association’s choice this way: “Until this health emergency has been corralled up, everyone needs to do everything they can for the sake of our community.”

The Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair will resume occurring each Victoria Day weekend, with the next being May 20-23, 2022. The Rodeo’s 75th Anniversary celebration is being postponed to next year.

“We take off our hat to the Rodeo’s fans, sponsors and the entire community,” adds Claypool. “We’re sad not to be providing thrills, fun, and memories this year. However, everyone’s understanding will be rewarded next year with an exciting, rip-roaring shindig well worth the wait.”

Despite the fact that there will not be a Rodeo, the Cloverdale Rodeo Youth Initiative Foundation has vowed to continue awarding scholarships to young, local leaders this year. More information on how high school students can apply will be available later this spring.

The Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair is just one of nearly 1,000 events held each year at the Fairgrounds. Other activities range from fun runs to trade shows. The Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition Association manages the Fairgrounds, stewarding the 90 acre, eight facility property for the community.

To thank its members for their on-going support, the Association is extending memberships an additional year at no charge.

To discover more about the Association, Fairgrounds, and the renowned Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair, visit the website.

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