Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum got down to business quickly after being sworn into office earlier this month, following through on several promises he made to residents along the campaign trail.
After the first full meeting of the new council Monday night, McCallum reiterated that the city won’t raise taxes to pay for his promises, which include free two-hour parking at city hall and around Surrey Memorial Hospital; pulling out of the RCMP and establishing a municipal police force; as well as building SkyTrain.
“We’ve been very clear with taxes in Surrey, we won’t increase them anymore than the Consumer Price Index, so that’s set in stone for future years,” he told reporters after the Nov. 19 meeting.
“The most taxes will go up, and that’s the maximum, it may go up less, but that’s the Consumer Price Index,” McCallum added. “We’re working on the budgets for next year currently, in the next month. That revenue, we will have to re-adjust our budgets in the city to cover that.”
While free two-hour parking at city hall and on streets around Surrey Memorial Hospital was already in effect last week, Surrey’s new city council voted to officially approve the decision on Monday (Nov. 19).
The number of parking spaces that until recently you had to pay for on city streets near SMH is a drop in the bucket compared to the number pay parking spots controlled by Fraser Health. The city operates 103 on-street pay parking spots in the immediate vicinity of SMH while Fraser Health or private companies operate 2,041 off-street parking spaces.
A 10-page corporate report, penned by Fraser Smith, the city’s general manager of engineering, indicates that council’s commitment to free parking will reduce annual pay parking revenues by $850,000.
“The parking utility expenditures include debt repayment for the city hall parkade, parking management, parking enforcement, and capital, maintenance and replacement costs for all parking infrastructure,” Smith reports. “Introducing free parking at any existing pay parking locations will reduce the funding available for these expenses.”
Meantime, when it comes to the setting up a municipal force, no cost estimates have been revealed though it’s expected to cost more than the RCMP detachment that currently polices the city.
McCallum has appointed Terry Waterhouse to lead the city’s transition from RCMP to a municipal force.
Waterhouse was hired by the previous Surrey First team in 2015 as the city’s first-ever Director of Public Safety Strategies, and his title was later changed to General Manager of Public Safety.