Surrey Councillor Bruce Hayne is now an independent. (File photo)

Hayne splits from Surrey First: ‘It’s just not open and transparent the way I’d like it to be’

Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner calls Hayne’s comments ‘hypocritical’ and ‘unclassy’

Councillor Bruce Hayne has cut ties with Surrey First ahead of the fall election, claiming his decision stems from a lack of transparency and a difference in “vision.”

Hayne, first elected to Surrey City Council in 2011, told the Now-Leader Wednesday night he was splitting from the party.

“I tendered my resignation with Surrey First as of this afternoon,” he said, describing his colleagues’ reactions as “mixed.”

“Really, it’s a matter of integrity,” Hayne elaborated. “I have great respect for many of my colleagues but quite frankly the way that we have been dealing with certain issues and files, it’s just not open and transparent the way I’d like it to be. I simply have a different vision and direction for the city than I see Surrey First going, and continuing to go, so I have to break away and sit as an independent.”

Hayne – a former businessman and past president of the Surrey Board of Trade – said he doesn’t agree “with the leadership of Surrey First and where it’s going” and his “heart is just not in Surrey First anymore.”

“I’m not going to be part of Surrey First in the long term so I felt it was important I step off before Friday, when Surrey First makes a decision as far as its next mayoral candidate because I don’t want to be part of that, nor should I be part of helping to make that decision,” he told the Now-Leader.

Hayne said he will run in the October civic election but wouldn’t reveal if he’d run as a council or mayoral candidate, or if he would run as part of a team.

“I have not started to assemble a team or what you would consider a slate… but I certainly will be looking at the field and seeing if there are people who are aligned with my thinking and align with my vision for the city.”

What is that vision?

When it comes to transit, Hayne said TransLink and the Mayors’ Council “have made a great many decisions that haven’t included the public.”

“It’s not that I’m against LRT specifically as a technology along the Guildford-104 line, because a lot of those decisions have already been made and they were made a long time ago,” Hayne said, “but we also have phase two that’s going to go down Fraser Highway to Langley and I think there’s an opportunity to really hit the reset button and say, ‘Wait a minute, let’s look at this, let’s talk to the public, let’s engage the community as to what they want.’

“Here we are about to spend $1.6 billion and there’s a large percentage of residents who are in opposition,” he added. “And so, we’ve got to ask ourselves, did we not tell the story properly? Did we not engage the people properly? It really is a massive infrastructure project and we simply don’t have a large percentage of the population on side with it.”

Asked if he disagrees with how much development Surrey First has allowed, Hayne said it’s inevitable but it’s a matter of “smart development, not just development.”

“Development is coming South of the Fraser like a tsunami…. Clearly we don’t have enough housing, as we’ve seen on 135A, so we need housing but we need to do it in a smart way and we need to be able to have the infrastructure that catches up with the housing,” Hayne elaborated. “In South Surrey for instance, it’s not like there’s no demand for that housing, people are buying up those condos and townhouses as fast as they can be built but at the same time we need to be widening the roads, we need to be putting in the interchanges on the 99, we need to be putting in schools and parks and all the other things.

“We need to be transparent with the public, and engage with the public far more than we are,” he added.

Mayor Linda Hepner said Hayne’s split is “hypocritical” and “unclassy.”

“He’s been part of those decision-making processes and part of every single decision that has been made at council,” she said, noting his record shows he’s been supportive of party’s decisions.

“It’s the Barinder Rasode move,” she added.

Hepner said Surrey First will determine its mayoral candidate shortly and be putting out a call for new council candidates over the coming weeks.

“With the retirements and now a resignation, the opportunity for new voices is apparent. Last election we added three new voices in Mike Starchuk, Vera LeFranc and Dave Woods, all strong Councillors. I expect this election to be no different,” she said.

See also: Surrey First’s Mary Martin not seeking re-election this fall

Read Hepner’s full statement: Surrey Mayor Hepner won’t run in fall election: ‘Now is right time’ for family, friends

See also: Five Surrey First councillors now reveal interest in mayor’s chair

See also: Surrey First Councillor Judy Villeneuve not seeking re-election this fall

With Hepner not seeking re-election and Surrey First councillors Judy Villeneuve and Mary Martin also bowing out, Hayne’s split means there are now at least four vacancies in the Surrey First party, which won all nine seats on city council in the last election.

Four remaining Surrey First councillors told the Now-Leader they are considering a mayoral run: Dave Woods, Vera LeFranc, Tom Gill and Mike Starchuk have expressed interest in the top job.

What does Surrey First founder and former mayor Diane Watts think of Hayne’s resignation?

“It is unfortunate,” Watts said Thursday morning, “because when you have a strong coalition and a good team, you work together.” As for Hayne’s comments that Surrey First isn’t “open and transparent” enough, Watts said “everything starts with leadership and ends with leadership. If there’s an issue there, then that obviously needs to be corrected.”

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