On Saturday our family went to the ‘Party for the Planet’, BC’s largest Earth Day celebration at the Surrey City Hall Plaza. This was an all ages free event organized by the City of Surrey offering a wide variety of activities, informative programs and entertainment. There was something for everyone ranging from the tree tips at the BC Plant Health Care booth, the Regeneration Light bulb Recycle Zone to the stories at the Eco dome and the Nature Play booth spreading awareness about natural surroundings through kids crafts. “These events remind of simple ways to connect with the earth, to experience nature and thus learn to value and conserve it too” were the words of one participant at the event who did not wish to be named.
Our first stop was at the ‘Metro Vancouver Region Parks’ booth where my daughter met a salmon fish! Lisa, Park Interpreter at Metro Vancouver informed us that Metro Vancouver’s regional parks system covers over 14,000 ha of protected land and welcomes millions of visitors annually. “This year is the Regional Parks’ 50th anniversary. People get to enjoy the parks, go on trails and hikes, and connect with our environment” said Lisa. Surrey residents can visit the Tynehead regional park and there is a special event coming up on May 13th at this park to mark the Salmon Send-Off
The ‘Sustainable Tiny House’ set up by the BC Tiny House Collective attracted my attention. The little house on display was made from recycled materials sourced at construction sites. Apparently this house belongs to Samantha Gambling the co-founder of the Tiny House Collective and she had opened it up for visitors on this day to highlight the advantages of a smaller footprint. Her house is ten feet wide, 22 long, on wheels and 320 square feet.
This was a unique and powerful way to promote creative alternative housing options and get us all to think about our living spaces in the context of climate change and rising costs.“The concept of Tiny living is to promote a more affordable and sustainable way to live.
You can also customize how these houses are built for accessibility and personal preference” said Stephanie Groz, a volunteer with the Collective. “And of course it takes less time to clean and less energy to heat” she added.
That definitely had an extra appeal! Perhaps embracing such small homes and the simple lifestyle will also encourage people to increasingly make use of communal spaces for a more social life too rather than being at home alone in the company of their numerous electronic devices.
Meanwhile the boys had headed straight to check out the electric car on display at the ‘Emotive’ stall. “We are here to promote electric vehicles as a viable alternative now for people looking to buy a car. You can go for 150 km in this car for as little as $2” explained Brendon James of the Emotive Campaign displaying a electric Kia car costing $35,000 for a basic model. The electric vehicles are currently free to recharge at various municipal or BC Hydro set up stations in the city. At such stations It takes 30 minutes to charge 80% of the battery which is optimum. The car can also be charged using a standard 110V or 220V plug in at home overnight. As part of this outreach campaign the provincial government is incentivizing potential buyers of an electric vehicle with grants up to $5,000.
My children were fascinated with the acts of children’s artists like Dustin Anderson aka the purple pirate more so than the main stage featuring crowd pulling local artists such as Juno Award-nominated Shawn Hook , vocalist Adam Robert Thomas and many more. Indeed the list of who’s who was never ending. For our family shaking hands with BC Plant’s Ladybug mascot was the high point of the trip!
Our last stop was at the ‘Environmental Extravaganza’ to learn about some of the hundreds of free nature related events they are running from April 22 to June 11 including guided explorations of Surrey’s scenic parks and shorelines, tree planting celebrations and park clean-up parties, environmental workshops, nature story times at your local Surrey Library branch and many more! So the celebration continues.
5 ways Affordable Housing will Benefit the City of Surrey
Lack of affordable housing has quickly become one of the largest barriers in preventing homelessness in British Columbia. Having served the Lower Mainland for the past 50 years, Options Community Services and Habitat Housing Society are working to provide safe, affordable rental units for the local community.
Options provides essential social services in Surrey, Delta, White Rock/South Surrey and Langley. Recently, the organization has partnered with 50 local women to help raise $1.5 million in funding for a new affordable housing building in Surrey, BC. The money raised in this partnership will go towards the 100-unit complex at 81st and King George Boulevard. Of these 100 units, 30 will be market rentals, while the remaining 70 will be well below market rates —designated as affordable housing, with rent starting as low as $375 per month. This building and the resources connected to it will make a monumental impact on the community. Here are 5 ways that this building will directly impact Surrey:
1. Additional Resources:
Not only will the affordable housing build feature 100 new rental units, but it will also feature several community services provided by Options. These services include Early Years, special needs services for children and mental health outreach. Having these programs available for tenants in the building will be a bonus for all.
2. Build Relationships:
Whether it’s a social worker or an elementary school teacher, having and maintaining long-lasting relationships is crucial to establishing roots in a community. These networks of support will help at-risk individuals and vulnerable people build stability in their lives and increase their sense of community. Knowing there are people in your neighbourhood that can help support you can be a relief for individuals who do not have friends, family, or any other source of support.
Currently, the housing market is very hot and the number of buyers is outnumbering the available stock. This applies to both home buyers and renters who are looking for affordable places to stay. This building offers 100 brand-new units that are affordable for low-income families. These families otherwise might not have any other options to turn to and be forced to consider unsafe housing conditions. Priced at $375 monthly for a one-bedroom, these homes can change the lives of those who are in need.
4. Increased Safety:
By having a door to lock and a place to call home, the safety and security of the community is enhanced. Far too often, vulnerable peoples are subjected to unsafe conditions or forced to make tough choices. Many of these individuals are women fleeing violence, refugees, displaced seniors, at-risk youth or persons living on a disability income. . Housing such as this will better protect these groups and ensure that they have access to safe, secure and affordable places to live.
5. Job Growth:
The success of our vulnerable community members is a success for us all. In communities with affordable housing, there is often a growth in job opportunities. A study by the New York State Association for Affordable Housing found that affordable housing projects created nearly 330,000 jobs in New York between 2011 and 2015, with many of them being permanent or long-lasting contracts (source). From engineers to health care workers, the growth of a community can directly contribute to an increased demand for workers.
The Women of Options campaign was created to support the build at King George and 81st. More information and a profile on each of the 50 Women of Options can be found at womenofoptions.ca. Community support is vital to ensure its success. To learn more about ways to help or donate, please visit womenofoptions.ca.
Plastic Bag and Foam Takeout Container Ban Planned To Come Into In Effect November 2021
The City of Surrey moves a step closer in eliminating the negative environmental impacts of plastic bags and other single-use Items.
At last night’s Regular Council Meeting, Council approved the Communication and Education Plan to prepare businesses for the ban on plastic bags and foam takeout container and cups, planned to begin in November 2021.
“I’m proud that Surrey is anticipated to be the first city in the Metro Vancouver region to implement a ban on plastic checkout bags,” says Mayor McCallum.
“Council has been leading the way on green initiatives and this step is proof of the measures we are prepared to take to protect and better our environment. This move affirms Surrey’s commitment to reducing landfill waste and pollution created by these types of materials.
In the coming months, we will be working closely with our business community to support them on this very important initiative that is good for our citizens, our communities and our City.”
The City will lead a comprehensive communication and education plan to help businesses phase out and eliminate the use and distribution of plastic checkout bags, foam cups and take-out containers.
The plan outlines key tools, resources and awareness activities which will prepare businesses and the public for the upcoming ban.
The plan will include:
- A business toolkit;
- Virtual information sessions;
- Brochures; and
- Additional engagement activities and resources.
Other municipalities, provinces, and the federal government are making similar commitments to reducing unnecessary waste and pollution caused by short-lived plastics that are designed for limited use with limited recyclability.
For more information on Surrey’s please visit our site.
Surrey Libraries Offers Access to O’Reilly eBooks and Videos
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.
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.
Surrey Could Have The Most Expensive Police Department In The Province: Councillor Linda Annis
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.”
Will Surrey Get its Own Police Service in 2024? Here’s What We Know!
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.”
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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