2013: A review of the past year in Surrey and North Delta

A run down of the issues, trials and triumphs that impacted the community in the last 12 months.

General news


• Tom Godwin, a local icon in the environmental movement, dies of an undetermined neurological condition. He was 75.

• Five members of a Newton family – a woman, her two kids, her sister and mother – are killed in a horrific crash on 32 Avenue and 176 Street when their van and another vehicle collide. The driver of the second vehicle subsequently dies in hospital as well.


• Surrey School District adopts an anti-homophobia regulation addressing sexual orientation and gender identity.


Surrey’s Linda Evans finds her mother after she vanished more than 50 years ago. Surrey RCMP had highlighted Lucy Ann Johnson missing person file a month earlier. Evans placed an ad in a Whitehorse newspaper, eventually locating new relatives and visiting her mom later in the year. The story made international headlines.


• The City of Surrey turns 20. Surrey officially became a city on Sept. 11, 1993. City officials had planned to celebrate at the new city hall in city centre, but it won’t be complete until February, 2014. Celebrations will happen then.

• Teen Amarpreet Sivia is killed and two of her friends injured when they are struck by a motorcycle while crossing the street in front of Princess Margaret Secondary. The death sparked calls for a crosswalk in the area, which is slated to be put in in 2014.


Surrey School District Superintendent Mike McKay retires after eight years leading B.C.’s largest school district. Jordan Tinney takes his place Jan. 1.


Courts and Crime


• Former Newton-North Delta MP Sukh Dhaliwal faces charges of failing to comply with the Income Tax Act. He was planning to run for the B.C. Liberals in the November election but bows out.


• William Whiteside pleads guilty to the shooting death of Surrey convenience store worker Alok Gupta on Christmas Day 2011. Whiteside received a 15-year jail sentence.

• A Surrey man is found guilty of killing and dismembering his roommate. Ernest Hosack has yet to be sentenced for the second-degree murder of 54-year-old Richard Falardeau.

• Russell Bidesi, 22, is charged with killing Surrey’s Bradley McPherson, 28, on Christmas Eve 2011. It’s alleged Bidesi shot McPherson at a house party in Newton.

• James (“Jim”) Cardno is sentenced to nine years in jail for molesting 10 boys in Surrey and Ecuador between 1993 and 2010. Cardno, 48, pleaded guilty to 15 child-sex related offences in November 2012.

• Surrey’s Gurjit Dhillon, the man who struck and killed 83-year-old Pritam Binning at a Surrey bus stop in 2009, is sent to jail for one year. Binning’s family says justice is not done for family patriarch.


• Two men granted a retrial for the 2005 murder of young Surrey mom Tasha Rossette learn their fates. Amjad Khan is convicted – again – for the murder and receives a life sentences, while co-accused Naim Saghir walks free.

• Manmeet Singh pleads guilty to attacking his wife Ravinder Bhangu with a hatchet and knives, killing her at her workplace in July 2011. He is serving a life sentence with no chance of parole for 16 years.


• Two Surrey residents are accused of planting pressure cooker bombs outside the B.C. legislature on Canada Day. John Stewart Nuttall and his wife Amanda Korody are charged with making or possessing an explosive device, conspiracy to commit and indictable offence and knowingly facilitating terrorist activity.


• Six years after the mass murder of six men in a Surrey apartment building, the trial of three men begins in Vancouver. Cody Haevischer and Matthew Johnston are each charged with six charges of first-degree murder in the deaths of Christopher Mohan, Ed Schellenberg, Ryan Bartolomeo, Ed Narong and brothers Corey and Michael Lal in 2007. Michael Le was also on trial, but in November, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder and manslaughter and is given a three-year prison term in mid-December. The trial of the other two is ongoing.

• Former city planner Akonyu Akolo pleads guilty to breach of trust by a public officer for defrauding the City of Surrey. Akolo was fired by the city in 2010 after working for the city for 17 years. He faces jail time, and is expected to be sentenced on Jan. 17.


• The young man who killed North Delta teen Laura Szendrei is sentenced as an adult, despite having committed the crime as a youth. The man, who is now 21 but still cannot be named, is sentenced to life in prison for second-degree murder.


• Surrey’s Steven Beszedes, who’s been in jail for three years, is sentenced to another two behind bars. Beszedes, 48, pleaded guilty in March to drugging victims and then robbing and sexually assaulting them.

• Ex-corrections officer Sedrick Dang is sentenced to four years prison for accepting bribes and smuggling contraband into Surrey Pretrial Centre. He pleaded guilty to breach of trust and accepting a bribe as a public officer in July.

• Surrey hockey volunteer Julie Paskall, 53, is beaten to death during a random, unprovoked attack outside Newton Arena. Police believe the attack is a robbery gone wrong.

• The dark story of 2013 for Surrey is the record number of homicides. As of noon Dec. 31, 25 people had been murdered during the year, outstripping the previous deadliest year of 2005, which saw 21 murders.


Municipal matters


• Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts kills a casino proposal in South Surrey with a tie-breaking vote. The controversial proposal was the cause of a 13-hour public hearing.

• Surrey council considers development of a large parcel of pastoral land in Grandview, southeast of 176 Street and 32 Avenue. The city’s own Environmental Advisory Committee previously recommended halting development plans for the area.


• The City of Surrey drops the hammer on smokers at area hospitals by passing a bylaw forbidding it. Anyone caught faces a fine.


• Surrey Matters Voters Association arises as an electoral group challenging the status quo at city hall. The group replaces the Surrey Civic Coalition, which was shut out at the polls in 2011.


• Plans are unveiled for Delta Rise, a 37-storey commercial and residential highrise being built on 80 Avenue and 119 Street. When completed, it will be the tallest building in Delta. The mixed-use building will include 359 apartments and a four-storey commercial component with a maximum 2,304-sq.-metre (24,800-sq.-ft.) area.

• Developers announce Marriott International will operate a hotel in what will be Surrey’s largest tower at 3 Civic Plaza in City Centre. It will have 34 storeys and contain 330 residential units and a hotel.

• MK Lands tables new plans for a parcel of land near Highway 91 at the corner of 72 Avenue in North Delta. The proposal calls for 1,100 residential units in the form of 650 four-storey apartments and 450 three-storey townhouses, as well as 12,000 sq. metres of commercial space.

• The proposal will also see $12 million in Highway 91 upgrades and 78 hectares of Burns Bog land would be absorbed into the contiguous Burns Bog Conservation Area, bringing the grand total of protected lands to more than 2,200 hectares.


• Longtime former Surrey councillor Gary Robinson dies on Nov. 2 at age 57. Holding office from 1987 to 1999, Robinson was known as a political scrapper who saved several green spaces in Surrey as park land.

• The contentious Southlands proposal is approved by Delta council by a vote of 6-1 and will go before Metro Vancouver for approval within the regional growth strategy

At stake is 217 hectares of mainly undeveloped farmland, of which Century Group is offering to develop 45 hectares into mixed housing. The rest (roughly 80 per cent) would be converted into active farmland, or be protected as wildlife habitat and donated to the public.




• Bill Reid is named Surrey’s Good Citizen of the Year for 2013, honoured for his contributions as a business leader, politician and tireless service club member. Known as Mr. Surrey, Reid passed away in May at the age of 78.


The largest mosque in B.C. opens in North Delta in May. The new 35,000-sq.-ft. Baitur Rahman Mosque on River Road is the largest of its kind in the province.


• The Surrey Food Bank marks 30 years of helping residents through difficult times.


• The new Surrey Animal Resource Centre opens in Cloverdale. The centre has the ability to deal with all domestic- and farm animal-related issues in the city.

• North Delta’s John Evelyn, 62, makes his 500th blood donation at the Surrey Blood Donor Clinic.

• The second-annual Surrey International World Music Marathon, presented by Central City, takes place, welcoming 1,500 runners to the streets of Surrey.


• The new emergency room at Surrey Memorial Hospital opens its doors. At 57,000 square feet, it’s five times the size of the old ER.

• Four Surrey residents are named Surrey Civic Treasures for 2013. Maxine Howchin, Kelly Konno, Patricia Dahlquist and Ellie King are honoured for their dedication to helping build and develop Surrey’s culture.




• Surrey’s Brenden Dillon cracks the roster of the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars. The 6’3”, 210-pound defenceman was called up from the Texas Stars.


• The Holy Cross Crusaders capture the B.C. Senior AA Girls High School Basketball Championship banner in Kamloops, defeating the Vernon Panthers 69-37 in the final of the 16-team competition.


• Jeff Ingram is picked as the top referee in the B.C. Hockey League (BCHL). The Cloverdale native is named winner of the Kelly Sutherland Award. The Brad Lazarowich Award, which honours the top linesman, goes to former Surrey resident Bevan Mills.


• Danielle Kisser, 16, sets a pair of national records in Montreal. The Delta Sungod Swim Club member swims in three races at the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) World Championships.


• North Delta’s Nic Petan is among 25 players named to Hockey Canada’s selection camp for the 2013 World Junior Championships in Toronto.


Metro Vancouver


• The premier vows a referendum will take place on any new funding sources for TransLink. It was an election promise of the BC Liberals but by year end there’s no indication what the question will be. Mayors want approval to levy a vehicle levy, a regional sales tax, or, eventually, regional road pricing. They fear a referendum defeat would be a major setback for the region.


• Metro Vancouver votes to oppose a coal export terminal that would bring coal via train through White Rock and South Surrey and send it by barge down the Fraser River. Several cities, including Surrey, oppose the project or express concern. Port Metro Vancouver orders an environmental assessment, which medical health officers reject as inadequate. A final decision by the port is expected soon.


• Metro Vancouver’s board rejects a proposal to bring back stock car racing at the old Langley Speedway in Campbell Valley Regional Park. Park advocates and equestrians were strongly opposed.


• The premier promises the Massey Tunnel will be replaced with a new bridge. There’s no word on whether or not it or a replaced Pattullo Bridge will be tolled.

• Transportation Minister Todd Stone indicates the province may review its tolling policy, which prevents reform of the current practice of just tolling bridges one at a time as they are rebuilt.


• Companies wanting to build a new garbage incinerator for Metro Vancouver unveil four proposed sites.  Two would barge waste to Duke Point near Nanaimo or across Howe Sound to aboriginal land at Port Mellon. The other two sites are in south Vancouver and at Delta’s Lehigh Cement plant, which would burn processed garbage instead of coal.

• TransLink delays the rollout of its new $194-million Compass card payment system. New faregates were to block SkyTrain fare evaders by this fall, but that’s pushed back to late 2014, with most users to be offered the cards next summer.


Provincial politics


• A campaign turning point comes when NDP leader Adrian Dix reverses position on the Kinder Morgan pipeline project and comes out against expanded oil exports. Dix decides to step down in the wake of the election defeat, triggering a leadership race. By year end, Kinder Morgan formally applies for its new pipeline, which would triple existing capacity.

• The B.C. government orders a five-year freeze on further increases to the province’s carbon tax. Later in the year, the government announces BC Hydro rates will climb 28 per cent over five years. Significant cuts to BC Ferries service are also planned.


• Premier Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals are re-elected with a 49-seat majority government in the May provincial election, despite polls that for months gave the NDP a sizable lead. The NDP take 34 seats, while Independent Vicki Huntington is re-elected in Delta South and Andrew Weaver becomes B.C.’s first elected Green MLA.


• The province relents and allows an opt-out for smart meter resisters – they can keep their analog meters but only if they pay a monthly meter-reading surcharge. Opponents aim to fight on with a class-action lawsuit.


• B.C. cities grapple with regulation of new medical marijuana farms after a federal government decision to eliminate individual growing licences in 2014, in favour of a new system of commercial growers. Municipal leaders warn they still face problems with numerous home grow houses that may not stop growing or be made safe.


• The province launches reviews of highway speed limits and also liquor policy, promising to explore ways to allow grocery stores to sell beer and wine. More public concern is voiced about potential changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve through the government’s core review.


• Marijuana petitioners with Sensible BC fall short of the number of signatures needed to potentially force a referendum on pot decriminalization. Organizers vow to try again and seek new ways to convince government to enact pot reforms.



Surrey North Delta Leader

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