A “Surrey Community Leaders Forum” has been organized for the city’s community associations with the aim of determining what issues are top of mind for residents ahead of the civic election this fall.
The event, set for Thursday (May 3), is being organized by longtime Surrey residents Bob Campbell and Grant Rice.
“We are not supporting a party, we are simply hosting a community association get together,” said Campbell, past president of the West Panorama Ridge Ratepayers Association. “We are paying for it completely ourselves, sponsoring it ourselves and making it non-political.”
While Rice has run for city council in the past, Campbell said neither he nor Rice are running in any capacity this year’s election.
“It’s about as non-partisan as it comes,” he insisted, noting the two have “strong community backgrounds.”
Campbell said a decade or longer ago, the city’s more than 30 community organizations used to meet to discuss happenings and issues in their areas, but that those meetings have died.
“With this current council that has ended,” he said of the meetings. “There hasn’t been one for as long as there’s been this council.
“The general feeling is that the current council is far less receptive to community input and this really puts a damper of the ability of communities to organize as the feeling is that there is not a receptive audience for issues they may have,” he added.
No press or politicians are welcome at the May 3 meeting, which Campbell said is in an effort to encourage openness.
“We want to have a certain level of confidence where people can say stuff to peers but we hope to issue some sort of summary and ranking of community issues,” Campbell explained. “We will make this summary available to the media and to candidates in the upcoming election.”
Campbell said it’s hoped “candidates considering running for office will look at this and say there’s a big issue with policing, or bylaw enforcement, or tree retention – and that will become a bit of a discussion point at least.”
Invitations have been sent to Surrey community associations and on Monday, Campbell said nearly 50 people have registered so far, from roughly 20 of Surrey’s community associations, and more people are registering every day.
Campbell said the group isn’t publicly releasing the location of the meeting but those wishing to attend can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Surrey Community Leaders, formed in 2014, is described as a “non-partisan group of Surrey citizens committed to providing opportunities for collaboration and collective action.”