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Open Letter from Surrey Connect

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Surrey Residents Want Input into Their Policing

Surrey residents have lost confidence and trust in the process to transition from the RCMP to a Municipal Police Department due to the lack of communication and transparency. It was acknowledged by the Solicitor General that the report done by the City of Surrey and Vancouver Police Department was inadequate, requiring the province to review it for gaps in the proposal.

Mr. Oppal was then asked to review the proposal and address the gaps in the report. We understand his report has now been deposited with the Director of Police Services, Brenda Butterworth-Carr. In keeping with the closed process surrounding this report from the onset, Surrey Council has not seen the recent Oppal report.

On February 14, 2020, Premier Horgan received a petition with over 40,000 signatures. Over the course of the year, several polls have determined that the majority of Surrey residents want to maintain the RCMP as Surrey’s Police Department. (Maple Leaf Poll – 64%, City of Surrey’s own Consultation Report – 73% and now the National Police Federations’ Poll – 77%). These polling results were achieved even though the public did not have a clear indication of the cost impact to the taxpayer.

Certainly, these results point to a discrepancy between Mayor McCallum’s interpretation of the 2018 local government election results and they clearly do not support his comments that the Surrey residents are in favour of a move from the RCMP.

On May 23, 2019, Premier Horgan stated: “The public needs to have a clear understanding: Why there would be a requirement to change, what the cost of that change would be, and would it be a diminishment or an improvement in the delivery of services to people?” He went further to say, “I can’t answer those basic questions because I don’t know, and if I can’t, I assume the public can’t either.”

Then on May 24, 2019, it was reported that Premier Horgan stated “I would argue, and I’ve made the case to Mayor McCallum, that the public needs to have a clear understanding why there would be a requirement to change, and what that cost would be, and would there be a diminishment in service to people,”

Premier Horgan went further to say that the province “has a significant role to play in the delivery of public safety services in Surrey” and will need to look closely at the details of Surrey’s proposal before it decides whether to allow the change.

It has been unclear throughout this process what the level of service would be nor has there been a comprehensive comparison of the current service of the RCMP with a new, untested Surrey Police Department. Certainly, cost implications have never been clearly outlined and communicated to council or the public.

More recently, on January 23, 2020, it was positive to hear Premier Horgan speak in support of the concerns of Surrey resident and especially taxpayers when he stated: “Traditionally municipal forces cost more than the RCMP and again those are issues that the public need to know before they make a final decision. I think the Mayor appreciates that, he would prefer to move faster, I know that, but I think it is our responsibility to make sure that when Surrey makes these choices, they do it with full information. That is what the Oppal process has been all about. And there will be costs, so I think it is important that people know that before they take a leap of faith”

Costs to residents

We appreciate that the provincial government is concerned about Surrey taxpayers. Policing across the country is plagued with escalating cost, therefore, managing those costs is critical to residents and ultimately public safety in general.

The original Police Transition Report did not provide a solid pathway regarding the cost impact to residents. Further, we have learned that all cost projections were done on a “best case” scenario. We already know that the reported cost projections for I.T. in the report will not be achieved and that those costs will be significantly higher than originally budgeted.

The RCMP are a good value for Surrey

Comparisons between cities will provide a general guideline to better understand the cost implications to Surrey taxpayers should we change our model from the RCMP to a local police force. The chart below is extrapolated from a report by the Ministry of Public Safety. These are cost per capita in three “like” jurisdictions that have local police forces. This is based on 2018 statistics.

There can be no question that the police transition will increase taxes for Surrey residents. The question is by how much. The above chart is a comparison of the operating budgets from three local police departments. These numbers do not include the capital costs of the transition nor does it include any costs from a risk management (insurance) perspective.

Cities fund the risk management where there is a local police service whereas the costs for the RCMP are borne nationally. Suffice to say risk management can be a significant and unknown cost to the city when there is a requirement to compensate for personal or property damage done in the line of duty. Similarly, with employee costs like the health employer tax, the RCMP funds those nationally however, they are funded by cities with local police departments.

Hiring police officers is a challenge throughout North America. It should be predicted that Surrey will be faced with that same challenge to recruit the number of officers required for a police service even to meet the minimal requirement as stated in the Police Transition Report of 805 officers. While it has been stated that some members will come from the current Surrey RCMP detachment, that has not been confirmed. There is a further concern that some of the officers will come from other police departments like West Vancouver, Vancouver and New Westminster because the cost of living in Surrey is more in line with a police officer’s wage.

Training for all municipal police departments in British Columbia is done through the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC). The funding and ability for the JIBC to train officers is limited and just keeping up with the existing need for officers in B.C.

In the BC Budget 2020, there was no additional funding to the JIBC to adequately meet the needs of a new police department the size of Surrey. The RCMP training facility in Regina has more flexibility and can increase or decrease intake as the national need dictates.

In the end, if this issue is that Surrey is concerned about local input into policing in our city, that can be achieved through a Local Police Board for the RCMP. While this is a new option, it is working successfully in several jurisdictions in the country. Stephen Thatcher, Assistant Commissioner of the Lower Mainland District Commander, ‘E’ Division, RCMP said: “a type of police board, in the form of an advisory or local police committee to support the mayor and council in working with the RCMP is a potential option for the City of Surrey.”

The province is in a position to listen and provide Surrey citizens with an opportunity to have their voices heard. Likewise, it is important that First Nations peoples are consulted in a meaningful way – government to government – in accordance with all that is right and just.

Now that the police transition file is out of the hands of the local government and the purview of the provincial government, we trust that the province will consider the wishes of the residents of Surrey.

Regards,

Cllr. Jack Hundial
Cllr. Brenda Locke

Police Transition
Chronological Timeline

2018

Nov. 2 – Mayor Elect Doug McCallum, Bob Cheema and Chief of Staff Donna identified on Minister Farnworth’s calendar meeting to discuss traffic fine sharing and redacted item(s).

Nov. 5 – Motion to start the process to move to a Surrey Police Department. Cllr. Hundial’s caveat – it must provide better police service and be fiscally affordable.

Dec. – Budget 2019 guts services and all new infrastructure in order to meet the cost implications of the Police transition. Infrastructure projects like the Cloverdale Arena were cancelled even though they were shovels in the ground and the Road Levy tax stopped.

2019

May – Surrey sends the Police Transition Report to Victoria. Council had little or no input into the report. All work was singularly the purview of the Mayors office. Council was provided 45 minutes to review the document prior to it being deposited with the Solicitor General.

May 15 – Public Consultation process and locations announced.

May 23 – First Public Consultation event occurs – large turn out. “Keep the RCMP in Surrey” campaign begins.

May 31 – Cllr. Pettigrew leaves Mayors’ Safe Surrey Coalition.

June 18 – Press Release exposes the lack of resources in the Police Transition Report dedicated to abused children and youth at Sophie’s Place.

June 23 – Mayor announces that Surrey’s Public Consultation determined that 93% of residents want a Surrey Police Department.

A Request was made for the raw data from the public consultation process.

June 27 – Cllr. Locke leaves Mayors’ Safe Surrey Coalition.

July 15 – Mayor folds the City of Surrey’s Public Safety Committee in favour of a Police Transition Committee (PTC). Only members of his own coalition assigned to the PTC. The PTC has never met.

July 18 – Cllr. Hundial leaves Mayors’ Safe Surrey Coalition.

Aug. 12 – Press Release expresses concern that the Police Transition Report does not respond to vulnerable people at risk by cutting the current Police Mental Health Outreach Team by 50% at a time when calls to police for mental health and addictions issues exceed 40% of all calls to the police.

Aug. 19 – Cllr. Locke requests to have the Police Transition Report translated into other languages. The response was negative.

Aug. 22 – Solicitor General gives Surrey “green light” to proceed with the police transition and appoints Wally Oppal to fill the gaps in the report.

Sept. – Maple Leaf Strategies conducts a poll regarding public interest in police transition. The outcome was clear 72% of the population in Surrey support the RCMP.

Sept. 24 – Cllr. Locke received an abridged version of Surrey’s Public Consultation raw data stamped “Confidential – Not for Distribution”. (3 months post the request)

Oct. 1 – Cllr. Locke met with Surrey Lawyer re misinformation communicated to the public regarding the public consultation. I was told that because the data was stamped “Confidential – Not for Distribution” and it would be a breach to refute the Mayors’ statement.

Oct. 30 – Applied to the Provincial FOIPPA office to have the data released. After several emails and phone calls, it was determined that the process should go back to the City of Surrey’s FOI office.

Dec. 16 – Budget 2020 is completely focussed on the Police transition with no opportunity to build infrastructure. The road levy is cancelled once again, and few new projects permitted.

Motion to stop the process of the Police transition until a proper feasibility study has been done that specifically included cost to the taxpayer. Defeated 5/4 split.

Dec. 23 – Data was released at 4:30 that indicated that the Mayors’ comments regarding public support for a Surrey Police Department were inaccurate.

2020

Jan. 21 – Surrey Resident Richard Landale does an in-depth analysis of the police transition titled “Qualitative Review of the Policing Transition Citizen Engagement Survey”. The author points to a flawed process that did not put a clear question to the public and Thematic Analysis principles inaccurate rationalization of the data information.

Feb. 4 – Cllr. Brenda Locke Signed the petition to “Keep the RCMP in Surrey”.

Feb. 10 – Motion put forward to halt the Police Transition process until proper, government to government consultation had been achieved with both lands based and urban First Nations. Ruled out of order as the Mayor claimed a relationship with First Nations is not an issue for local government.

Feb. 12 – Cllr. Jack Hundial signed the petition to “Keep the RCMP in Surrey”.

Feb. 14 – “Keep the RCMP in Surrey” delivers 40,000 signatures on a petition to Premier Horgan at his Vancouver Cabinet Offices.

Feb. 18 – National Police Federation survey states that 77% of Surrey Residents want to keep the RCMP.

Citizens continue to hold out hope that commons sense will prevail.

This article was submitted by a reader from the Surrey Community. You can submit your own community story, press release, event or public notice directly to our Community Board today! We also have advertising and promotional options for businesses.

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5 Restaurants and a New Year in Surrey!

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Afghan Kitchen, Surrey BC.

Another new year approaches: Surrey 2022 here we go! But with the new Covid restrictions, where are you going to enjoy this Friday night, whether you intend to celebrate New Years Eve or just celebrate because it’s Friday? 

We have a list, albeit a short one, of restaurants that are open on New Year’s Eve.

Dominion Bar & Kitchen, Surrey BC | Instagram post.

Open until midnight. Reservations are recommended but not a must. This Surrey restaurant is well known for their Canadian dishes, complemented by an exciting list of cocktails, BC wines, and local craft beer, in an open concept restaurant with high top tables and chairs. Bones: they will be offering an all day happy hour on Friday.

The Clayton, Surrey BC | Instagram posts.

Open until 2am. The Clayton is a unique choice. Although there will not be a party they do have a DJ, along with classic tasty Canadian dishes and appetizers, plus 3 incredible fire tables available in their fully covered & heated patio spaces. Also, they have a ton of drink specials, just in case you might be drinking responsibly during your visit.

The Cabin, Crescent Beach – Surrey BC | Pan-seared halibut, Instagram Post

Open until 10pm. Featuring a $60 New Year’s Eve menu, The Cabin is a solid choice for a Pacific Northwest experience featuring seafood, “AAA” steaks, gourmet pasta, local craft beers, and a healthy selection of wine. It should be noted, as of right now, 7:30pm onwards is fully booked, however we’ve been told there might be some cancellations. You can and should put your name on the waitlist.

Afghan Kitchen, Surrey BC

Open until 10pm. Featuring traditional Afghan cuisine. If you live in Surrey, you know this place is amazing. If you don’t, that’s ok, just watch this episode about them on CBC Vancouver’s YouTube. Mom’s cooking never tasted better. Now, perhaps you’re saying to yourself, “Nothing special here, where’s the party!?” however, since many restaurants are closing early this year, and especially living in one of the most diverse cities in BC, what better way to enjoy your end of year than with a local culinary “staycation” at one of Canada’s top 100 restaurants!

With that said, last but not least by any means:

Kathmandu Bar & Grill, Surrey BC | Instagram post.

Open until 1130pm. Serving a delicious blend of Nepalese, Indo-Chinese, and Western Cuisine. Like we said, while in Surrey, try something new. Allow your tastebuds to create a mini celebration for you, safely at your table.

Have we helped? We certainly hope so! 

No matter how you plan to enjoy this Friday December 31, stay safe, stay warm and we wish, as always, the very best for you and your family.

 

See you next year!

Desire Kokuvi Amouzou

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The best trails to explore in Surrey this fall

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Image via @waferboard / Flickr

There is something beautiful about walking or biking along a trail full of trees with changing leaves and this is the perfect time of year to experience it. Surrey Centre has some amazing trails to explore in the Green Timbers and Holland Park areas that are perfect for a leisurely stroll, a jog, a bike ride or a family affair that the pets and kids can join. Here is a list of the best trails to check out.

Holland Park Loop

Holland Park is a popular park in Surrey, one that hosts plenty of outdoor events, music festivals and gatherings. On top of that, the park also includes a trail loop perfect for a leisurely stroll. The Holland Park Loop is 0.8 kilometres long and is good for all skill levels. The trail is popular for walking, running, and road biking. There are often dogs seen on the trail when it’s nice out, and it’s a great place to take the family and kids. This loop is best used from April to November.

Birch and Willow Trail

Part of Green Timbers forest, the Birch and Willow Trail is a 1.8-km loop. This trail offers scenic views as it features a lake that is often full of ducks. It’s a great walk for kids as well, and has plenty of signs to follow. The trail is popular for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips. The gravel makes it a nice trail even on a rainy day.

Birch Salal and Douglas Loop

Another loop in Green Timbers is the Birch, Salal and Douglas Loop. This is a bit longer at 2.9 km. This loop also features the lake and is good for all skill levels. The trail is flat with lots of shade. It’s a great place to go for a walk, jog, or bike ride. There is an area for picnics by the lake where you can take a rest after your exercise. This trail is often used for hiking, walking, running, and biking. There is limited parking in the area, so be prepared to walk to the trail.

Salmonberry, Yellow Arum, Douglas Fir and Hemlock Loop

If you are looking for a longer trail in Green Timbers, you will find the Salmonberry, Yellow Arum, Douglas Fir and Hemlock Loop. This is a 5.6-km loop. As the name implies there are beautiful trees along this hike. The trail is acceptable for all levels, though it is a bit longer so it’s best to prepare ahead. The trail is popular for hiking, walking, running, and nature trips. In certain spots the trail comes close to the road, and some areas can be waterlogged at times, but it’s an enjoyable walk all the same. 

Hawthorne Park Loop

Hawthorne Park Loop is a 1.9-km trail in beautiful Hawthorne Park. There is a lot of nature to take in here including plenty of beautiful wildflowers making this loop a favourite among birdwatchers. Good for all skill levels, this trail is popular for walking, running, and nature trips. Dogs are welcome on this trail but must be on a leash. This area is very popular amongst hikers and runners, for good reason.

Willow, Cedar and Pine Trail

There is one more Green Timbers trail worth mentioning. The Willow, Cedar and Pine Trail is a 2.6-km back trail. The lake is accessible from this trail as well and it is suitable for beginner hikers. This loop is great for a walk or run.

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5 ways Affordable Housing will Benefit the City of Surrey

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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.

3. Accessibility:

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.

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Plastic Bag and Foam Takeout Container Ban Planned To Come Into In Effect November 2021

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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.

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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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