ELECTION: Surrey First releases social innovation strategy

ELECTION: Surrey First releases social innovation strategy

SURREY — Surrey First has released its plan to deal with issues surrounding homelessness and those suffering from mental health and addiction.

The slate commits to completing a five-year plan (2013-2017) to build 450 supportive housing units and to see through a purpose-built Gateway replacement shelter.

If elected, the team also promises to protect existing rental stock, create tax incentives for new rental projects and to work with the Surrey City Development Corporation to create co-op housing and a “Land Trust for Affordable Homes.”

Surrey First says it will grant a five-year property tax holiday for start-up non-profit social operations.

The team also promises to work with the federal government to create an “Immigrant Partnership Council” to address the needs of newcomers to Surrey.

“A strong social support system that addresses the needs of the most vulnerable is a core component of Surrey’s values, and our Surrey First strategy takes the next step in providing housing and support for vulnerable groups as we build off of a number of city initiatives, including the Social Plan, and the Housing the Homeless Master Plan and the Poverty Reduction Strategy,” said mayoral candidate Linda Hepner in a release.

The platform mentions a city-hosted Social Innovation Summit in 2015 will bring together leaders to look at new ways of addressing social issues.

The 2014 Metro Vancouver Homeless count found a Surrey homeless population of 403, not significantly up from 2008 despite significant population growth, Surrey First noted.