A second new civic party has made itself known this week.
On Monday morning, the Surrey Community Alliance revealed it would be challenging the Surrey First slate. Later that day, the People First Surrey party also announced its intentions to run in the upcoming fall civic election in Surrey.
The face of the team, Rajesh Jayaprakash, told the Now-Leader the party was born roughly a year and a half ago when some residents were “trying to understand the LRT.”
“We were just curious and started trying to understand what LRT is and the impact,” said Jayaprakash. “We started studying that and are not convinced it will improve the city’s transportation situation overall.”
“That’s where it started,” he added.
While Jayaprakash said they are not affiliated with the SkyTrain for Surrey group that has long opposed light rail in the city, he noted they used that group’s website in their research.
Jayaprakash said the team then began delving into crime and other issues, leading to a 16-point agenda being created, which is outlined on their website, peoplefirstsurrey.ca. Prakash said they intend to “refine it with people participation.”
People First Surrey describes itself as a “non-traditional” election platform and takes “inspiration from (the reigning) Aam Aadmi Party of Delhi, India” but their website states “we are in no way in touch with them or associated to them.”
According Aam Aadmi Party’s website, that party was “born in the backdrop of big ticket corruption scandals.”
Jayaprakash said the People First Surrey party is not accusing the dominant Surrey First party of corruption, but said “we did not like the fact that current council got $902,000 of their $1.18 million (campaign donations in the last election) from corporations. That is almost 80 per cent.”
As for the party’s platform, the People First team says it wants SkyTrain and bus service instead of LRT.
When it comes to crime, People First Surrey proposes a high tech system be developed to “identify, record and prove crimes” via the installation of cameras in all or most road intersections, which would be reserved for police use. A “drone network” is also proposed.
What about privacy?
“Privacy of our citizens are ensured by a Privacy protected and people inclusive for governance of the system,” according to the website. “This body will develop the overall rules for the use of the network. Police would be given enough data to detect and respond to situations only based on the published and approved rules. But will NOT have control of the system.”
As for housing affordability, the website proposes a “build up and build more” approach.
Also proposed is as an online voting system for residents: “All contentious issues (Eg: Hawthorne park road) can be resolved quickly and democraticly (sic) with this approach,” the website states.
Other ideas include exploring new car sharing technologies and partnerships; identifying and promoting a specific street in the downtown core for nightlife and performing arts; creating a team to support local entrepreneurs to patent their innovations early and at low cost; exploring city-wide WiFi; and developing a long-term vision for Surrey.
Jayaprakash noted the group is actively looking for people to join the team, whose values align with their values, “like transparency, positive politics, etc.”
“We will also be doing open houses, starting with Clayton, so people can come and talk to us in person.”
Those are expected to begin in late April, he added, with details to be posted on the team’s website.
Jayaprakash said he is a software architect, and has lived in Surrey for four years and North America for 20.
He said a focus of the team will be using technology to help solve the city’s problems.
“We have a lot of problems in Surrey, crime and many other things, but we don’t see a lot of action,” said Jayaprakash. “Let’s try a new vision.
“We came to the conclusion that we need to do something,” he elaborated. “You need to be the change you want to see in the world. We decided let’s roll up our sleeves and do it ourselves.”
Those wishing to get in touch or involved with the group can email email@example.com.
Jayaprakash said candidates are expected to be announced in July or August.
Last year, Hepner told the Now-Leader she intends to seek re-election, but Surrey First — which currently holds all nine seats on council — has not yet announced a slate.
Surrey residents head to the polls on Oct. 20 2018.