How do we build the strategic imagination that can shape our cities and communities to lead the world in achieving prosperity, sustainability, equality and reconciliation? Questions such as this are raised by Doug Saunders in his book ‘Maximum Canada: Why 35 Million Canadians Are Not Enough’. His book roots for the open, pluralistic and connected Canada chosen by a determined yet fragile majority that favors immigration, multiculturalism and free trade.
Doug Sanders was the opening keynote speaker at the third annual Surrey Social Innovation Summit held on November 15 at the City Hall. His presentation was on the topic of ‘Arrival City and How the Largest Migration in History is Reshaping Surrey and Canada’s Cities’. His confident vocabulary and vivid presentation of innovations from all parts of the globe flashed before the participating delegates a bold vision of possibilities to include all sections of community in an equal economy of vibrant businesses and thriving neighborhoods.
This year’s Summit was designed to enable conversations and discussions tackling these very key questions of how to achieve social and economic inclusion, how to reinvent city spaces to solve social challenges and how to connect individuals, neighborhoods and businesses. The underlying theme for the Summit was a call for inclusion and collaboration to find innovative solutions for common challenges together.
The opening remarks of the Summit started with a ceremonial welcome by Kevin Kelly and Michael Kelly Gabriel of Kwantlen First Nation. The Father and Son team invoked ancient wisdom promoting peace, love and harmony that also reminded of our obligation to build sustainably and responsibly so as to pass on a better place to succeeding generations.
Following the welcome remarks and opening plenary, concurrent breakout sessions were offered on the topics of ‘Diversity = Innovation’, ‘Social Procurement: Putting the economy to work for Social Innovation’ and ‘Public Participation: Every Voice Matters’
An interactive Community Art project:
An ideas tower developed by the City in collaboration with SFU displayed in the foyer invited participants to express their ideas and connect discs as building blocks. One of the delegates, Jessica studying at KPU appreciated the “symbolism of the project demonstrating visually how we as a community are linked together and so are our passions”
Doing more together
The summit attracted a good mix of local businesses, social organizations and members of the local community leading their own projects with a passion for making positive social change. Manaktahla Charanjit Singh, a member of the Envision Financial Community Leaders Igniting Change (CLIC) program was attending for inspiration and to build networks. He also volunteers with the City Fire Services
Placemaking with People in Mind: Breakout Session
This session invited architects and thought leaders in City Development to discuss the role of community engagement in defining public spaces and their use. “Placemaking is a natural organic process of having people express what they would like to become…”in the words of Fred Kent, President, Project for Public Spaces. The goal he elaborated is to find ways for community to express their cultures, enjoy their social life, contribute in their work by reinventing public spaces to become the heart of the community. Participants at the breakout session described it as thought provoking. “It was interesting to examine the tension between design and people’s needs that animates & activates spaces…” was the comment made by one attendee. Discussions about how cities can provide architectural solutions to address social challenges of poverty, homelessness, unemployment, addiction and others was a theme that engaged delegates throughout the summit.
‘Filling empty spaces’ both conceptually by increasing dialogue between communities and physically by creating user friendly spaces was also a message in the keynote presentation. Doug Sanders lamented “we waste people”. He shared best practices of interventions to support newcomers. New economies are born when cities address built in barriers such as lack of public transport and mass rapid transit systems, suburban concrete buildings with architectural inhibitions to enterprise and access to customers, bureaucratic hurdles to start a new business, obstacles in the pathways to citizenship, lack of recognition of foreign credentials and experience as well as a shortage of good schools in areas in highly dense diverse neighbourhoods to tackle post code racism etc. Globally some cities have successfully intervened with changes to perceptions, policy and infrastructure.
Mistakes can be huge learning opportunities – Voice of the Youth
Two of the breakout sessions before lunch invited panelists to hear from Youth about their successes in advocating for change and to discuss social responsibility to the Youth. Delegates learnt about Entrepreneurship Programs offered by YELL to young students, and the work of RADIUS SFU which was also offered as a workshop late afternoon that day. “Kids need opportunity and direction to thrive” said Harmeet Nanda describing the youth support work of the Youth Entrepreneur Leadership Launched (YELL). Amelia Douglas, a recent graduate from SFU with Masters in Public Policy appreciated the diversity of speakers and the choice of panelists for the sessions. She applauded the organization and information shared by young change makers.
Lunch by Tayybeh
Lunch comprised of delicious home style Syrian food provided by the women of Tayybeh, a social enterprise offering a catering service with authentic Syrian cuisine.
Nihal Elwan, the Founder of Tayybeh explained her motivation behind this work. “Our mission is to provide newly arrived Syrian women an opportunity to generate income, to be financially independent and integrate within the economy and society. We started off by creating large dining events, pop up buffets. People loved the food and to satisfy a growing demand we launched a catering component.”
SFU’s student Ambassadors volunteered at the Summit as part of an initiative to offer capacity-building training and event and conference related transitional work experience as a pathway to commensurate employment. Mavis Gevido volunteered in the Summit through this program supporting in event coordination. “Learning about ‘Social Procurement’ was the most interesting aspect of participating in this Summit” she said. “With my background in the corporate sector in HR Management and Training, it was a refreshing insightful experience to learn how agencies and organizations collaborate put the social agenda before profit” she added.
‘It is I who must begin’
Strategies to rebuild the declining trust and to increase public participation in Civic affairs were discussed in the morning breakout session. Provision of terms of reference enables participatory dialogue and consultation preventing extreme disruptive voices from hijacking the process explained one panelist Mario Canseco from Insights West. Susanna Haas Lyons, a Civic Engagement Specialist addressed the concern that only one section of the community sometimes attends consultations on City matters. ‘Who needs to participate in what proportion for results to be credible’ is how the objectives of the consultation should be framed she suggested. Kathleen Burke quoted Ronald A Heifetz saying ‘What people resist is not change per se, but loss’. She reiterated that consultation begins with a conversation.
Indigenizing Our City: Transformation begins with honest reflection
Innovation is not just about new things. It is also about bringing the past into the present to address our current situation – Senator Murray Sinclair
Duncan McCue, Journalist and Host of CBC Cross Country Checkup offered an engaging insight into the progress and plight of indigenous communities across the country. He shared ongoing efforts of various cities to indigenize beyond mere symbolism through creation of indigenous business districts, visible cultural landscapes, street renaming projects, language conservation and many other ways. He inspired listeners to not shy away from controversial topics, to not be afraid to ask difficult questions which sometimes spark the next big idea.
To make change it is necessary to dream of a better tomorrow. Social innovation is about realizing a better future through experimenting, learning and collaborating. Summits such as this one provide that inspiration for the next innovative idea, for effective, efficient, sustainable solutions to social challenges.
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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