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Surrey merits praise for its waste change

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When it comes to waste, Surrey deserves its kudos.

The city’s three-cart waste management system came into effect in the fall of 2012, decked out with a fresh fleet of eco-friendly trucks and a new paradigm shift in residential waste pickup. The focus is on an organics-heavy, low waste landfill diversion program in an effort to try to usher in a greener era in our sprawling metropolis and for the region altogether.

While Surrey reported a 43% drop in residential garbage, the statistic seemed skewed. This assumption was purely an opinion drawn from a superficial understanding. My skepticism lay not in the mathematics but the pragmatic. Wastefulness is a habit, especially in this day and age when nearby resources are readily available. In a nutshell, we, in terms of society, are the mass creators of waste. No jaw-dropping point here. We further exacerbate our wasteful condition through cross-contamination, that is, mixing your recyclables in with garbage, your organics with waste, so on and so forth. This costs time and therefore money to separate and sort—that’s the immediate improvement to Surrey’s Rethink on waste.

From the latest City of Surrey

From the latest City of Surrey “Waste Collection Calendar Tool.

The new collection program has helped circumvent the problem of cross-contamination because sorting now occurs at the home, for the most part, which has left an equal or greater amount of recyclables and organics out of the landfill.

A general gauge of effectiveness for waste diversion can be made via the measurement of the landfill year over year. If the amount of waste remains the same or is reduced, then diversion is a success. Simple.

So, by the city’s numbers—the most readily available data—the new system is a clear improvement. Certainly, diverting 24,100 tonnes less of waste from the fill, while increasing organic collection by 23% speaks volumes to the program’s immediate success.

The city further cites, “We’re picking up the same annual tonnage of waste per household, we’re just “packaging” it differently and providing residents with the appropriate containment system.”

And, if you exceed your biweekly garbage limit, you can purchase extra garbage stickers to get rid of any additional waste. There’s also no weekly limit to organics and biweekly recyclables either. So if you surpass your weekly cart capacity, the city states you can place your materials into a Kraft bag or blue box adjacent to your full organic or recyclables cart for collection at no additional cost. So the initial concern that numbers are skewed because of municipal limits of how much and when waste can be taken.

Nonetheless, while the hard dollars saved is a difficult figure to ascertain, it’s explicit based on (admittedly) the City’s figures that the system is indeed working and with a nearly $10 million price tag just to roll-out, it ought to.

However, waste diversion is only a piece of Surrey’s sustainability initiative.

Progressive Waste Solutions (BFI Canada) was awarded the $9.5 million waste collection contract in 2012 in part, because of BFI Canada’s state-of-the-art automated Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) trucks, which emit 23 per cent less carbon emissions and 90 percent less air particulates compared to traditional diesel trucks (what the previous company of trucks ran off of).

According to the City of Surrey, studies show that replacing one diesel truck with a CNG truck is the equivalent to taking 475 cars off the road each year. Certainly, it’s been proven natural gas burns cleaner than gasoline or diesel.

The bottom-line here was that municipal waste collection rates would not be hiked as a result of the new contract being awarded to one of North America’s largest non-hazardous, solid waste management companies.

But the extra caveat is the city’s proposed Organics Biofuel facility (to be located at 9752 / 9810 – 192 Street, if rezoning permits). This is a crucial piece to the puzzle; the piece that helps tie in the cycle of sustainability.

Moreover, the proposed biofuel processing plant is future-looking, it’s a facility that will convert collected organic material into natural gas, which can then in turn be utilized to fuel the fleet of CNG trucks and perhaps generate further power for a small lot of other vehicles and homes.

This is smart environomics.

It is also in line with many of Europe’s leading green states as well. Norway, for example, uses 300,000 tonnes of garbage to power several of its homes and vehicles. Canada certainly lags slightly behind the waste-to-energy revolution thus Surrey’s push for its own waste-to-energy facility deserves kudos.

“Four tonnes of waste has the same energy content as one tonne of fuel oil,” said Pal Mikkelsen in a BBC interview. Mikkelsen is Norway’s waste-to-energy agency director, a position that I’m not sure even exists in the same spate, in Canada’s instance.

Furthermore, according to the same source, one tonne of fuel could heat a home for half a year.

But the question is, who will help foot the bill?

While BFI’s contract won’t affect municipal waste fee rates, the approximately $67.6 million plant, of which just up to 25% is to be covered by the feds, may require some crafty fundraising, and hopefully no finagling, by city council.

Brandon graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.A. in comparative history and a political science minor. After a two-year stint as a compliance researcher at a private financial firm, he moved on to an accelerated journalism program at Langara College. Brandon currently freelances, sharing time at a local startup magazine and content writing.

Politics

Election 2021: Meet the Surrey Centre candidates

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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.

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Top 5 Reasons Why Psychologists Should Be Covered Under MSP.

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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. 

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2019 Surrey Report Card: Councillor Gives Mayor’s Team a D for Transit and F for Proposed Police Department

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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.”

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BC Libertarian Party Assembles to Drive Change

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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.

(L) Dustin Murray – Treasurer, Don Wilson – Party leader, Alex Joel – president and Jesse Batsford – vice president

(L) Dustin Murray – Treasurer, Alex Joel – president and Jesse Batsford – vice president

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.

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Mayor McCallum & City Council approve free parking on streets around Surrey Memorial Hospital and at City Hall Parkade

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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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