You’ve cast your vote, and the election’s done. Now it’s time to dine on all those promises that were served up during the campaign.
Your maitre d — Surrey Mayor-elect Doug McCallum, that is, and his Safe Surrey Coalition — has set a table laden with pledges, assurances, commitments, vows, oaths, guarantees and obligations for Surrey residents.
So let’s dig in.
McCallum won 45,484 votes to Tom Gill (Surrey First mayoral candidate’s) 28,473 and Integrity Now Bruce Hayne’s 27,951.
“We kept hearing the public wanted change,” McCallum told the Now-Leader on Monday. “It’s going to an exciting time in Surrey over the next few years and I think it’s going to change the whole face of Surrey over the next four years, in a good way.”
“Surrey’s gonna shine,” he said.
McCallum, 73, was Surrey’s mayor from 1996 to 2005, under the now-defunct Surrey Electors Team. Having lost the mayor’s seat to Dianne Watts in 2005, and his attempt to reclaim the big chair in 2014, McCallum is once again on Surrey’s civic throne for a fourth term, albeit after a 13-year hiatus from city politics.
He said he decided to run again because people were telling him “we’re reaching a tipping point in Surrey, both for our development and lack of infrastructure.
“People felt the city was starting to slide a little bit.”
McCallum said people were saying, “Doug, just get in there, get the city turned around with your experience. We need a mayor that’s had experience, but bring in a brand new team, a team that represents all Surrey, and together you’ll be able to do it.
“That was our message from day one,” he added, “and we stayed on it because we recognized that’s what people wanted and they came through and turned out and said very clearly, in big numbers, that that’s what they want to do. Basically what they said is yep, we agree with you, now get the job done.”
“We were the only ones who said here’s the change, and here’s what we’re going to do, day one. And they said, again in overwhelming numbers, yes, we want change.”
Out of an estimated 337, 289 eligible voters in Surrey, 109,791 votes were cast in this election for a voter turnout of 32.5 per cent.
In Surrey’s Nov. 15, 2014 election, 101,588 ballots were cast, making for a 35.3 per cent voter turnout.
The new councillors-elect are Doug Elford, Laurie Guerra, Jack Hundial, former Surrey Liberal MLA Brenda Locke, Steven Pettigrew, Allison Patton and Mandeep Nagra — all of Safe Surrey Coalition — and Linda Annis of Surrey First.
Considering McCallum’s group will hold eight out nine seats on council, Safe Surrey Coalition is primed to be held accountable for the promises it made on the campaign trail.
“I met with them yesterday (Sunday),” McCallum said of his team, “and they’re still jumping up and down, raring to go. I mean literally jumping up and down, ready to go. There’s so much excitement with them. They represent the true spirit of Surrey.
“We’re going to go on a huge plan and a huge promotion in Surrey to get Surrey cleaned up and we’re going to ask the residents to get involved,” McCallum told the Now-Leader on Monday.
“We’re going to concentrate on the litter that’s around Surrey. We want to get our city cleaned up right away, you know, literally before we even get in. And we’re also going to buy a whole bunch more — we actually announced this in the campaign — we’re going to get a whole bunch more sweeper trucks, the ones that clean our streets and so forth. We’re going to get many more of those.”
McCallum will be sworn in by a judge on Nov. 5.
Surrey’s next regular council meeting is Monday, Nov. 19. The mayor-elect has promised on his first council meeting to set some major things in motion.
“At that meeting we’ll have two motions put on the agenda. One will be to form our own police force and the second will be to cancel the light rail project in Surrey and start SkyTrain.”
At a mayoral candidates’ meeting at Whalley’s Civic Hotel on Sept. 26, McCallum said in his opening remarks to the audience, that if elected, “Our first council meeting we will withdraw from the RCMP, and we will form our own police force.”
Surrey’s contract with the RCMP, which runs Canada’s largest detachment, is set to expire in 2032 but carries with it a clause that the city can opt out within two years’ notice.
Under the contract, Surrey pays 90 per cent of the RCMP’s cost and the federal government is responsible for 10 per cent. With a new city police force, the city would have to cover the entire cost.
The Now-Leader asked McCallum how he would achieve that.
“We would re-adjust our budget to cover that,” McCallum said Monday.
On the matter of taxation — everyone’s favourite subject — McCallum said, “We’re going to really look at the finances, because I don’t think they’re in very good shape, at least looking at their balance sheets, they’re not in very good shape.
“We also announced that we would hold any increases, if we need them, that we would hold any increases to the Consumer Price Index. That will be the maximum that we would go to, if we have to go to.”
During that Sept. 26 meeting at the Civic, McCallum also told the audience, “Again, on our first council meeting we’re going to cancel the light rail project and we’re going to build SkyTrain from City Centre out through Fleetwood, Clayton into Langley and the second phase is going from the city centre out through Newton to South Surrey.
“We’re going to pause development and we’re going to turn to smart development,” he added. “Smart development means densifying along corridors.”
McCallum has also promised to remove pay parking near Surrey Memorial Hospital and city hall.
Within 90 days of the election, McCallum and SSC said, a mayor’s standing committee on public engagement will be struck consisting of 50 per cent citizens, 50 per cent council members and McCallum is to be its chairman.
The objective, an Oct. 1st media release from SSC states, is to “develop and implement world-class communications strategies and processes between residents and the city.”
The coalition also promises to create a permanent Office of Ethics Commission at Surrey city hall, toward ensuring transparency and fair treatment of all Surrey residents.
Outgoing Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner told the Now-Leader on Sunday that she finds it “an absolute anomaly that we have the youngest population in the province, with the oldest mayor. It’s kind of a juxtaposition, isn’t it. Really? It seems change for better or for worse is what the people are looking for, and change it shall be.”
“He (McCallum) has some very big promises to keep,” said Hepner, who did not seek re-election. “I’m really interested in how he said that he was going to lease out city hall and go back to the old one. It’s just a sentence, it means nothing,” she added. “It’s just air. I don’t know how he’s going to do that. It’ll be fun to watch.”
Replying to Hepner’s assertion that he wants to move back to the old city hall, McCallum denies it.
“No,” he said. “Not true.”