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Budget 2021 Holds The Line On Property Taxes And Invests In Community Infrastructure

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Surrey, BC – At last night’s Regular Council meeting Surrey City Council adopted Budget 2021, which includes a five-year financial plan through to 2025. For the third year in a row the general property tax increase has been set at 2.9%, which is among the lowest among Metro Vancouver municipalities. A Capital Parcel Tax increase of $200 has also been introduced for the express purpose of building new facilities and upgrading existing amenities. The following is a list of projects that the Capital Parcel Tax will directly fund.

  • Newton Community Centre & Land Acquisition
  • City Centre Sports Complex – Phase 1
  • Bear Creek Park Athletics Centre
  • South Surrey Athletic Park Track Replacement & New Artificial TurfField
  • Trail & Path Development
  • Newton Turf & Washroom/Changeroom
  • Artificial Turf Field Replacements at Five Locations
  • Indigenous Carving Centres
  • Newton Athletic Park Walking Track
  • Sunnyside Reservoir Pickleball & Bike Park
  • New Park Washrooms
  • Biodiversity Preserve Park Improvements
  • Trail & Path Development
  • Crescent Park Studio/Building Renovation
  • Outdoor Volleyball Courts
  • New Park Shelters
  • Cloverdale Sport & Ice Complex with 2 sheets of ice (budgeted for 2022/23)

“As Surrey continues to grow and prosper, and with more and more people moving here it is important that our public amenities keep pace with our growth,” said Mayor Doug McCallum.

“Council has adopted a Budget that funds 16 new capital projects that will benefit everyone in Surrey, which include a new community centre in Newton, a new sports complex in City Centre and new Pickleball Courts and Bike Park at Sunnyside. All 16 of these projects are funded so work can get underway next year.

Despite the challenges that have been brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Surrey’s Budget 2021 is balanced in accordance with the Local Government Act and the Community Charter

“City Council has also made sure that Budget 2021 pairs strong community investment with fiscal responsibility, said Mayor Doug McCallum. “When it comes to property tax rates, I am very proud to say that Surrey continues to be in the bottom third of all Metro Vancouver cities. On behalf of Council, I want to thank all our citizens for making Surrey the liveable and great city that it is. Council shares your civic pride and we will continue to work hard to bring our City to even greater heights.”

The full Budget 2021 document can be found here.

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 Moving Ahead With Ban On Disposable Plastic Shopping Bags And Foam Food Containers

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The City of Surrey has led the way on many green initiatives within the Metro region and is now taking action to address the negative impacts of disposable plastic shopping bags and foam takeout containers. With today’s bylaw approval by the provincial government, the City of Surrey will start finalizing its plan to ban plastic checkout bags, foam cups and takeout containers.

“Today’s bylaw approval by the province paves the way for Surrey to put into place a city-wide ban to eliminate single-use plastic shopping bags and foam cups and containers as soon as possible,” said Mayor Doug McCallum.

“As we work our way through the pandemic, City Council has not lost sight of the importance of our environment. That is why we are placing such a top priority on initiatives such as a plastic bag and foam food container ban for our City. It’s a simple and effective way for us to curb our waste and make a positive environmental impact on Surrey.”

The use of disposable and non-compostable items result in increased:

  • energy and resource consumption
  • litter and illegal dumping
  • costs to collect from public spaces
  • landfill waste

“We all want to do our part to help our environment and reducing the number of plastic bags and foam containers that end up in landfills is something that we can all easily do,” said Cllr Allison Patton, Chair of the Agriculture, Environment and Investment Committee.

“As we move toward a city-wide ban of these items, I want to thank the Surrey businesses which have already taken the initiative to do away with single-use plastic shopping bags and foam takeout containers.”

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Grandview Aquatic Centre & Clayton Community Centre Limited Opening

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Surrey, BC – The Clayton Community Centre and the Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre will open to the public on a limited and gradual basis starting on February 10th and 11th with strict health and safety protocols in place. The opening dates are as follows:

  • Clayton Branch – Surrey libraries: opens February 10th at noon
  • Clayton Community Centre weight room only: opens February 11th
  • Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre weight room: opens February 11th
  • Grandview Heights Aquatic Centre public swims/Lane Swimming: opens February 13th

The Clayton Community Centre, located at 7155 – 187A Street, is Surrey’s newest state-of-the art Community Centre that integrates recreation, library, park, arts and community amenities into a sustainable building standard achieving Passive House design. Passive House buildings use up to 90% less energy, thus reducing the city’s carbon footprint.

At the same location, the Clayton branch of Surrey Libraries will open at noon with limited services including browsing of materials, book returns, holds pick-up, 45-minute computer and Wi-Fi access, printing and photocopying, and limited patron assistance. Registration is not required to visit the library but capacity limits are in place, therefore, patrons may have to wait to enter the library.

All recreational activities for both facilities are by advance reservation only online at surrey.ca/register or by phone at 604.501.5100. Currently in-person registration is not available for recreation services. To monitor the status of facility closures, re-openings and learn about safety plans visit surrey.ca/COVID19.

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Surrey Art Gallery Media Release – Art Appreciation (March 4)

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Lalita Hamill, Artist in Studio, 2021, oil on linen

Local artist wants to help people appreciate visual art
SAGA Thursday Artist Talk with Lalita Hamill
March 4 | 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Surrey, BC – Surrey Art Gallery Association announces their March Thursday Artist Talk with Lalita Hamill on March 4 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. titled “Art Appreciation: A Simple Method to Reach Deeper Understanding.” This live event takes place on Surrey Art Gallery Association’s Facebook page.

Using a range of artworks, local artist Lalita Hamill wants to teach people how to assess and appreciate visual art. She will discuss several paintings (some well known and some not), including her own.

Hamill says, “Visual art can remind us of what is important yet hard to put into words. It can challenge us to learn and grow, show us what we need to re-balance, and prompt us to be present and curious.

Art appreciation becomes a balance between trusting your own interpretation, experience and feelings, while understanding how to recognize a quality piece of artwork.” Her illustrated talk is aimed at those who have an interest in visual art and would like to improve their ability to interpret or “read” paintings.

After hearing from too many people about their fears in going to galleries because of looking or sounding ignorant, Lalita is on a mission to change this. She hopes to help people develop their interest and confidence in understanding visual art, leading to more meaningful and enjoyable art experiences.

Lalita Hamill, Madwoman, 2019, oil on linen

About the Artist

Lalita Hamill

Lalita Hamill is a professional artist who explores the human condition through art. She was classically trained at the Vancouver Academy of Art and is a Signature member of the Federation of Canadian Artists and an Associate Member of Oil Painters of America.

She paints primarily in oil, yet is accomplished with acrylics, watercolours, and all drawing media as well. Lalita has a degree in Philosophy and is a sought-after instructor and juror who has inspired hundreds of artists to create, challenge themselves, and apply what they have learned in the studio to their everyday lives. www.lalitahamill.com

About Surrey Art Gallery Association

Surrey Art Gallery Association (SAGA) is a non-profit society that offers its members the opportunity to participate in and respond to contemporary art and be part of a community that actively supports Surrey Art Gallery.

About Surrey Art Gallery

Internationally recognized for its award-winning programs, Surrey Art Gallery, located at 13750 88 Avenue in Surrey, is the second largest public art museum in Metro Vancouver.

Founded in 1975, the Gallery presents contemporary art by local, national, and international artists, including digital and audio art. Its extensive public programs for children through to adults aim to engage the public in an ongoing conversation about issues and ideas that affect our communities and to provide opportunities to interact with artists and the artistic process. Admission is free.

Surrey Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance of the City of Surrey, Province of BC through BC Arts Council, Canada Council for the Arts, and the Surrey Art Gallery Association.

Surrey Art Gallery continues to present Art Together, a series of online programs that began in March 2020 and explore art and artists in the community, spark the imagination, and celebrate the ways that art can impact our lives.

Visit us virtually, follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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$420,000 In Grants Approved For Surrey Arts, Cultural And Community Groups

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Surrey, BC – City Council has approved more than $420,000 in grants that will benefit Surrey’s arts, cultural and community organizations.

The City of Surrey’s Cultural Grants Program has been in place since 2012 to support a wide range of arts and cultural activity, including music, dance, theatre, heritage, cultural celebrations and community outreach.

“As we work our way through the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to not lose sight of the important role that arts and culture play in our lives,” said Mayor Doug McCallum.

“That’s why City Council has reaffirmed our commitment of our support of Surrey’s arts, cultural and community organizations. This year the Cultural Grants Program will benefit 74 organizations in our city and I encourage you to, safely, find ways to support Surrey’s talented and vibrant arts and cultural sector.”

The 2021 Cultural Grants range from $1,500 to $15,000. The full list of this year’s grant’s recipients can be viewed here.

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McCallum’s Police Department Is A Costly Vanity Project: Councillor Linda Annis

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Surrey taxpayers should get ready for serious sticker shock: Councillor Linda Annis

Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis says Surrey taxpayers should get ready for some “serious sticker shock” when it comes to the real cost of Doug McCallum’s police department.

“Doug McCallum promised that the cost of his proposed police department would be just 10 per cent more than the cost of the RCMP, but in fact that’s not even going to come close to the real cost,” explained Annis.

“The most recent numbers available for policing in the Lower Mainland show that Surrey’s police costs are about $284 per person while Vancouver’s are $463. The Vancouver Police Department was instrumental in building the model for the Surrey police department, and even Delta, where Chief Norm Lipinski worked before coming to Surrey, had policing costs of $359 per person.”

Annis said the complete lack of transparency around police transition costs means answers and real numbers are “virtually impossible” to come by. Instead, Annis says “we’re seeing a lot of smoke and mirrors” when it comes to police costs.

“The lack of accountability and transparency is shocking, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to change any time soon,” said Annis. “Taxpayers and councillors are being kept in the dark about costs, and getting a straight answer is virtually impossible. For instance, dozens of city staff continue to work on police transition without those costs being billed to policing. Instead, those costs are buried in other city departments, reinforcing that any public numbers about police transition costs are questionable at best. Without transparency this is looking like a vanity project for the mayor, rather than something Surrey residents want or need. Meanwhile, when the smoke clears, our taxpayers will be saddled with the increasing cost of the transition, as well as the ongoing and increasing cost of a local police department.”

Annis said there is one RCMP officer for every 692 Surrey residents, compared to one VPD officer for every 518 Vancouverites, and one officer in Delta for every 574 residents.

“When you look at all of these numbers it’s easy to connect the dots and realize where we’re headed in terms of increasing policing costs here in Surrey,” noted Annis.

“Police costs under Doug McCallum are going to be a big surprise to taxpayers and definitely way more than his promised 10 per cent. When that happens, he’ll only have two ways to pay the bill: higher and higher taxes for both residents and businesses, or selling off city owned lands to pay the real costs he’s incurred.”

Surrey City Development Corporation managed and leveraged city lands but was disbanded, and Annis says that makes it easier for valuable city land to be sold off as one way to pay the bills.

“Meanwhile at UBC their land company leases land, rather than selling it,” said Annis. “As a result, UBC receives annual income from their land and will always own it. Here in Surrey once the mayor sells off city land it’s gone for good, and that’s not a sustainable way to pay the bills he is racking up.”

Annis added that the city has been forced to borrow $150 million to build the much-needed City Centre sport complex, Cloverdale ice centre, and new community centre in Newton, all because the mayor has “diverted every available dollar” at city hall and put it towards the growing cost of police transition.

“Somebody really needs to take away the mayor’s calculator because it’s clear he doesn’t know how to use it, and every taxpayer in Surrey is going to be paying the price, now and in the years ahead,” explained Annis.

“This is no way to manage our city’s finances and there’s more to come when the real costs of the mayor’s police force are made public. Hold onto your wallets, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

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