“Mr. Alex Sangha was in attendance and presented Council with his proposal for the future of Surrey as a modified ward/riding system. Mr. Sangha commented on the rapid growth of Surrey and outlined the need for a ward/riding system. He added that he has provided Public Affairs with a copy of a document he has prepared supporting this system. Mr. Sangha advised that he has recently returned from Kent, England, where he has researched the Ward system in operation.
He went on to discuss the benefits of a ward/riding system, and pointed out that without such a system, it will become more difficult for the next generation to become involved in local politics. He pointed out that most major cities in Canada have ward systems and expressed the opinion that local politics in Surrey should operate on the same basis. In conclusion, Mr. Sangha requested that the suggestion of changing to a ward system be put to a referendum at the next civic election.”
In response, Surrey Council asked city staff to prepare a corporate report on the issue and send me a copy. They did not move forward with my recommendations. However, in the last civic election, all three major candidates including Mayor Linda Hepner endorsed some form of a ward system so maybe I was ahead of my time. I entitled my proposal for the future of Surrey in 1995 as “The Royal Canadian Principality of Surrey.” Below I briefly describe the political structure of the principality.
PRINCIPALITY | A principality for Surrey would mean a unique political agreement with Victoria and Ottawa that would address Surrey’s needs as the soon to be largest city in B.C. and one of the fastest growing cities in the country.
Surrey would have enhanced powers in the form of a new civic charter from Victoria that would enable the city to act on its numerous problems, including social issues in an integrated way, as well as enhance the potential and capacity of its strategic strengths and assets. This includes marketing itself as a gateway to the U.S.A. and expanding its port on the Fraser River. Perhaps a new comprehensive general hospital in Newton or Cloverdale and a regional airport wouldn’t hurt either.
Surrey as a principality would have new powers and new authority and new money as it would have greater taxing authority and receive greater transfers to deliver programs from the provincial and federal government.
CITIZEN CHANCELLOR | The city would be “royal” because it would have a “Citizen Chancellor” appointed by the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia.
The Citizen Chancellor would become the Ombudsperson of Surrey Council. The goal of this new office would be to bring some non-partisan fairness in decision making in local government. The office would serve as a mediator between the citizens and city government when disputes arise and ideally avoid costly legal fees for both sides.
MAYOR | The Mayor would be elected at-large to represent all the citizens in the city. The Mayor would have enhanced powers in three key areas:
- They Mayor would have a veto over the budget.
- The Mayor would make all committee appointments.
- The Mayor would have exclusive jurisdiction over hiring staff in the Mayor’s office and have a veto over hiring key staff for the city.
CITY COUNCILLORS ELECTED VIA AT LARGE | Three City Councillors can be elected at-large to represent the interests of the city as a whole.
CITY COUNCILLORS ELECTED VIA WARDS | The City Councillors would be elected to represent each neighbourhood or ward. For example, Surrey could be divided into the following wards:
Ward 1 – Surrey City Centre | Ward 2 – Whalley | Ward 3 – Newton | Ward 4 – Guildford | Ward 5 – Fleetwood | Ward 6 – Cloverdale | Ward 7 – South Surrey
The benefits of a ward system are numerous including the following:
- Each neighbourhood or part of the city would have guaranteed representation on City Council.
- A political candidate would not necessarily need to seek the nomination of a political slate. An independent would have a good chance of being elected.
- A political candidate would not need to fundraise a huge amount of money to run a city-wide campaign making politics more accessible and democratic.
VOTING BREAKDOWN |
Mayor – 1 vote plus tie breaking vote | At-Large Councillors – 3 votes | Ward Councillors – 7 votes
This would total 11 votes total.[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version=”3.0.65″ background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”justified” border_style=”solid”]
CHIEF COMMISSIONER | The Chief Commissioner would be the head of the city staff and chief bureaucrat in the city. He or she would have the following major responsibilities:
- To provide impartial advice to City Council
- To serve as a proxy vote for Council Members if a Council Member was absent and quorum was at-risk on City Council. The absent Council Member would need to direct how he or she wanted the Chief Commissioner to vote in advance.
PEDESTRIAN PARK ROUTES | The principality would also have a network of pedestrian park routes connecting all the town centres, parks, green spaces, and recreation and leisure centres in the city. These pedestrian park routes would have beautiful walking trails, bicycle paths, water fountains and benches, and showcase nature and civic art along their paths. They would all meet in the heart of the city centre where the Office of the Citizen Chancellor and other civic facilities such as the promised new performing arts centre would be located.
CONCLUSION | Surrey will soon be the largest city in the province and is going through tremendous growing pains. Over 1,000 new people move to the city every month. Time to invest in the city is now. Surrey needs new political infrastructure and new services and supports to keep up with the growth. Surrey needs to start being treated by Victoria and Ottawa as the big city and urban centre in the province!
Give Surrey the money, political power, and resources to effectively tackle and solve its own problems. Surrey can no longer wait and wait and wait for the Premier and/or the Prime Minister to effectively address Surrey’s numerous and growing socio-economic challenges.[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]
Election 2021: Meet the Surrey Centre candidates
On Sept. 20, 2021, voters across Canada will head to the polls to select the candidate to represent their riding in Ottawa. Surrey Centre is one of 3 federal electoral districts that cover the city of Surrey.
The candidates for Surrey Centre have been confirmed. Here is an overview of who is running, the issues that are most important to them, and what party they represent.
Liberal: Randeep Singh Sarai (Incumbent)
Randeep Sarai has been the Liberal MP for Surrey Centre since 2015. He won his seat again in 2019 with 37.4% of the vote.
Sarai was a lawyer and real estate developer before representing Surrey Centre as the MP. He lives in Surrey with his wife and three children.
Issues that he is committed to include making Surrey the most transit-friendly metropolitan city in Canada with less traffic congestion, as well as making it a low-crime area to live in.
NDP: Sonia Andhi
Sonia Andhi has been a long-time Surrey resident and raised her three adult children here. For the past 30 years, she has remained an active part of community initiatives. She is fluent in Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu.
Andhi has worked as a social worker and family counsellor, working with Surrey students, from children to teenagers, to support them in challenges including poverty, depression, anxiety, and gang involvement. She founded the Shakti Society and Shakti Awards to address issues of family violence and empowerment of women.
Andhi is committed to issues surrounding universal healthcare, as well as updating policies within the Surrey School Board to focus on child development and family enhancement.
Conservative: Tina Bains
Tina Bains has lived in Surrey for 29 years, after relocating here from Montreal. She came in third in the 2019 federal election and remains committed to the community.
With an undergraduate degree in political science and a master’s degree in history, she has focused her career in community and public service roles. She previously worked in law enforcement and as an advisor in the Ministry of Regional Economic and Skills Development.
Bains is committed to rebuilding main streets across Canada to support small businesses. This includes reforming the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to make loan programs accessible to small businesses.
People’s Party of Canada: Joe Kennedy
Joining the ballot card recently is Joe Kennedy. At the time of publication, there was no additional information about Kennedy and his experience on his website.
Green: Felix Kongyuy
Felix Kongyuy lives in Surrey with his family and has long been involved in community building.
He is the founder of Baobab Inclusive Empowerment Society which serves children, at-risk youth, women, families, persons with disabilities, and newcomers to Canada. He has also been on advisory boards addressing social justice, racism, small business needs, immigrant challenges, the housing shortage, and much more.
Additionally, Kongyuy is a co-founder of Global Peace Alliance. He has also led and designed programs for Indigenous, Christian and spiritual groups in BC. He wants to bring a positive change to Surrey Centre.
Top 5 Reasons Why Psychologists Should Be Covered Under MSP.
Recently, Premier John Horgan expressed that he would be willing to consider including psychologists under our BC medical services plan coverage. This would mean that those seeking mental health supports would have an easier time accessing those services, regardless of their extended health benefits or ability to pay.
COVID-19 has put British Columbians under enormous stress and now anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts are at an all-time high. The Premier’s willingness to consider including psychologists under MSP is an important step towards treating mental health like any other medical issue. Here’s why it matters:
1. It takes a team
Successful medical treatment requires a team of professionals working together including nurses, physicians, pharmacists and specialist healthcare providers. The same is true for successful mental and behavioral health. Now is the time to ensure that British Columbians have all qualified professionals available to be a part of their healthcare team—including psychologists. This will not only improve our overarching standard of health care, but it will improve lives for many individuals as well.
2. Family doctors need support
By integrating psychologists into MSP (or the APP) we can get care for people sooner, treating matters as they arise and not waiting until people are in crisis. Not only is this better for patients but it also benefits family doctors, who are currently bearing the burden of providing the vast majority of mental health and behavioural health services in this province. By being able to refer patients to psychologists, general practitioners will have more hours available, reducing waitlists.
3. Therapy is medicine too
While therapy has long taken a backseat in the medical field it is finally gaining the respect and recognition it deserves. People’s mental health is equally as important as their physical health to their overall well-being. Psychologists are an important part of BC’s mental health care system and the work they do should be covered for those that require their medical expertise in our province.
4. Not having coverage costs taxpayers money
Investing in people’s mental health before there’s a crisis saves money in the long run. When people have a mental health event, they are more likely to harm themselves or others which puts a much greater strain on our MSP budget than the initial investment would be to protect their mental health. We see this extra money spent on emergency room visits, hospitalizations, prescription medicines and increased sick leave, much of which could be avoided with psychologist coverage.
5. It creates a healthier community
Having access to more psychological services under MSP is a great benefit for everyone living in British Columbia. People who are mentally well have more capacity to contribute to creating safer, happier communities. Increased access to mental health services will result in much-improved quality of life for all British Columbians.
2019 Surrey Report Card: Councillor Gives Mayor’s Team a D for Transit and F for Proposed Police Department
More and more of us in Surrey believe our city is headed in the wrong direction: Councillor Linda Annis
Surrey, BC: In her 2019 report card for city hall, Councillor Linda Annis has given Mayor Doug McCallum and his four Safe Surrey councillors a D when it comes to transit and an “F” for the proposed Surrey Police Department.
“The mayor said he could get Skytrain from Surrey city centre to Langley for the $1.65 billion that had been allocated to LRT, but that turned out to be completely untrue and wasn’t even close to reality,” said Annis. “Instead, we’re getting only four stations and everything stops at 164th, with no new funding for at least the next 10 years. That means no significant transit improvements for neighbourhoods such as Newton, Cloverdale, Clayton, Campbell Heights and South Surrey. Frankly, when it comes to transit the mayor and his Safe Surrey councillors haven’t delivered as our city continues to grow. As a result, we’ll continue to be a city that spends more time in our cars than people living in Vancouver or other Lower Mainland cities.”
Annis said that while there’s growing disappointment about transit, she believes the proposed Surrey Police Department is the single biggest city hall failure in 2019.
“I think the idea of the SPD and the way the mayor is dealing with it deserves a failing grade,” said Annis. “There’s nothing about the transition report that gives anyone any confidence that we’re spending money wisely, or even solving a policing or public safety problem. The mayor and his four councillors have ignored the community, ignored taxpayers, and are trying to ram through the SPD at any cost. You only have to look at the new city budget to see that the transition to the SPD is swallowing up every available dollar, which means no new police, no new firefighters, and no new rinks, parks or community centres. Meanwhile, we’re continuing to grow, but cutting back on police and firefighters. Frankly, taxpayers are getting shortchanged. It just doesn’t make any sense, and, if the SPD is actually created, it will have fewer officers than our current Surrey RCMP detachment. It’s a financial nightmare and there are no answers from the mayor and his team. As a result, I think by any measure the proposed SPD plan deserves an F.”
Annis added that when it comes to housing affordability in Surrey, new city taxes and charges to developers that are passed on to home buyers only work to make Surrey less affordable. Consequently, when it comes to affordability, Annis gives city hall a D in her 2019 report card.
“Politicians talk a good game when it comes to affordability, but increased city taxes and the growing number of charges from Surrey city hall to local developers are simply being passed on to people looking to buy a home,” noted Annis. “Here in Surrey, those taxes and extra costs are nothing more than a cash grab to help fund the transition to the SPD. In the end, taxpayers and new home buyers pay the costs, and affordability goes out the window.”
Outlining her priorities for 2020, Annis said ethics, better transit, public safety, smart development, youth at risk and new schools are among her top priorities. Over the coming year, Annis said she will be advocating for:
- Hiring the promised ethics commissioner for the City of Surrey
- Complete transparency around the proposed SPD and its costs, with a public referendum that gives taxpayers the final say
- More and better transit for Surrey neighbourhoods
- Smart development that ensures Surrey is creating a community where people can work, live and play, with less commuting to jobs outside of Surrey
- Zero tolerance for school portables, with the City being more proactive with the Province and school board
- More transitional housing for the homeless
“Our community is continuing to grow and we’ve got tremendous potential, but we have to make better decisions about our future and make sure we’re getting it right, particularly when it comes to transit, policing and development,” explained Annis. “I’ve always believed that the mayor and council are elected to listen to our voters and taxpayers. That transparency is key, but we’re seeing less and less public input, engagement or consultation and that’s no way to build a better city. I’m hoping that in 2020 we’ll see politicians at city hall listen more and talk less, ensuring Surrey residents always have the final say about their future.”
BC Libertarian Party Assembles to Drive Change
Dustin Murray walked into his first BC Libertarian party meeting hoping to meet like minded thinkers for change in the province, but walked out as the parties Surrey-Delta-Langley treasurer. The party met Sunday afternoon to discuss and approve the party bylaws, as well as elect three new members for the Surrey Delta Langley location.
The president, and vice president were both filled by two elected party members. Alex Joel filled the position as president and Jesse Batsford filled the position of vice president. But once the position of treasurer was open, the last member of the party present declined the offer allowing Dustin Murray to step in and hold the position.
“I can’t sit around and do nothing, so I’m here to do something,” said Murray.
Once the member of the party voted Murray as treasurer, Murray finally handed in his application to be a formal member of the BC Libertarian Party, along with his five dollar application fee. Dr. Kenneth Van Dewark, who hold the regional caucus chair and lead the meeting, traded Murrays application with the parties treasurer paperwork which Murray swiftly signed at the bottom.
Murray’s role as treasurer is purely ceremonial for the party but Murray said he is still looking forward to create action in little ways for his family and himself. Murray is one of a handful of new members that joined Sunday afternoon. While the party has been around since 1986, the party has only seen a significant growth within the past two years.
“I would say, it (BC Libertarian Party) was more of a book club then a viable political option,” said Dr. Van Dewark. “But I think the situation in BC is, it’s become such that people are hungry for an alternative and the party has become a vehicle for that.”
According to party leader Don Wilson the party has grown for its advocacy on lower taxes, more choice and freedom alternatives. “Free market economics, classical liberal ideas, the protection of property rights and free speech, that’s our focus,” said Wilson.
Mayor McCallum & City Council approve free parking on streets around Surrey Memorial Hospital and at City Hall Parkade
Surrey, BC – Surrey City Council unanimously approved two hour free parking for on-street parking around Surrey Memorial Hospital (SMH) and at the City Hall Parkade.
“I firmly believed that people visiting their loved ones at Surrey Memorial Hospital should not pay for parking, nor should our citizens have to pay to park their vehicles when conducting business at their “house,” which is City Hall,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “This was a promise that my team and I campaigned on and we have taken immediate action to deliver on it.”
With Council’s decision tonight, the 103 on-street pay parking spaces around SMH and up to 165 spaces for the public at the City Hall Parkade are free of charge for the first two hours for visitors. The two hour time limit has been implemented in order to ensure that the spots are being utilized as intended and discourage external users, such as park-and-ride, from occupying the stalls for an extended length of time. The full corporate report can be viewed here.
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