As the final week of campaigning takes place in Surrey, the focus remains on safety, in large part because thatâ€™s apparently what the voters say is their top concern.
The definition of safety is â€œ â€ [Dictionary.com]. Barinder Rasode is running for mayor under the One Surrey coalition and branding herself as â€œone tough Mother,â€ advocating the need to fight crime. The word â€œfightâ€ is confrontational and implies trying to stamp something out rather than preventing it from happening, which is a lot more of a long-term challenge.
Doug McCallum is running for mayor with a Safe Surrey Coalition. The language on his website is certainly tough: â€œ [As Mayor from 1996-2005] ] he was able to clean up the crime-ridden town centre of Whalley by taking aggressive stances on drug houses.â€ McCallum wants to shut down drug recovery houses, but I have not heard of what would be done to help people instead. Nine years in office and now a further nine years later, apparently Surrey is still not safe, since crime is now one of McCallumâ€™s concerns. And his decision to run again is troubling; â€œHis return to run as the Mayoral candidate as part of the Safe Surrey Coalition is fuelled by a growing divide between the current Mayor and Council and the needs of Surrey citizens." Yet it was such a divide that led to his defeat in the 2005 election, leading to the success of Mayor Watts, who ran as an independent.
Linda Hepner and the Surrey First coalition want to discuss other priorities for the city, but Ms. Hepner also commented that â€œcrime and public safety are at the forefront of election concerns.â€
One of the great things about Dianne Watts when she first because mayor was that she helped bolster the image of Surrey and let citizens feel proud of where they lived, in the second largest city in the province. I have lived in Surrey for most of my life and never felt unsafe. So I went to the RCMPâ€™s website to look at actual incidents of crime in Surrey from 2004 to 2013 and the averages are down in eight out of 12 categories. There are been some high-profile cases in the city in the past few years, and in no way am I diminishing the effects on the families involved, but the level of fear in this city appears to be unfounded.
Furthermore, safety for myself and my family is very high on my list of priorities when you extend it to consider threats such as climate changes, which has led to more extreme storms, summer droughts and rising food prices as produce from drought-stricken California keeps increasing. To be safe, donâ€™t we need food on the table? Clean water to drink? Continued support to integrate the 800 new people who move to Surrey each and every month?
With everything happening in the world, our short-sighted focus on crime is misguided, and the real issues of safety are largely being ignored. Iâ€™d like to see more discussion about zoning laws, preserving farmland and community building. Look at all the mayoral and councillor candidates and remember that Dianne Watts was an independent; we need a diversity of opinions and talented individuals to represent the City of Surrey.
Linda Prai, Surrey