The crowd at Surrey City Hall on Monday evening (Dec. 16).

Surrey budget passes as loud crowd fills city hall

Final vote came amid shouts and heckling in a divided council chambers

People filled Surrey council chambers Monday night (Dec. 16) during a raucous meeting that saw the council approve a controversial five-year budget plan.

The evening started with two opposing rallies outside of city hall, with the final vote amid shouts and heckling in a divided council chambers.

At one point, Mayor Doug McCallum prevented councillors from speaking, citing safety concerns as the crowd shouted both opposition and support for the financial plan, which does not allocate any money for hiring new firefighters or police officers next year.

Starting off the meeting, Mayor Doug McCallum said, “You’re gonna have to be very quiet and then you might hear us,” which set off more shouting from the gallery.

The first and only person to speak to the budget was Councillor Laurie Guerra, who thanked staff for the “phenomenal” work they did on the budget.

“I am not an accountant, but I imagine it can be no small feat to orchestrate a $1.3-billion budget for a city the size of Surrey.”

Guerra then went on the add why she was supportive of the budget.

“The Safe Surrey Coalition, which included myself and seven other members of this council, promised that if we were elected on day one, we would replace the RCMP with Surrey’s own city police,” said Guerra, who was continuously interrupted by yelling, booing, clapping and repeated comments from the mayor for the gallery to be quiet.

“According to legislation, a municipality only needs 5,000 residents to have its own police and Surrey with a population of approximately 550,000, is the only city in Canada of more than 300,000 which does not have its own municipal police.

“On Nov. 5, 2018, every single member of this council, even the councillor that was not part of the Safe Surrey Coalition, voted unanimously, and I might add, enthusiastically, in favour of canceling the RCMP contract and transition to Surrey’s own police. The very next day letters were sent to both the federal and provincial government, notifying them of the changes we all supported.”

Guerra added that “at this point, the province has given Surrey the green light to have its own police force.”

After Guerra finished speaking, the crowd started up again.

Guerra could be heard saying, “We should get out.”

Councillor Allison Patton was next up to speak, but she was interrupted as well.

McCallum then said he wouldn’t be putting up with it.

“The ones that are shouting, I’m going to ask you to please leave? and if you don’t leave, we’re going to escort you out. I would ask security to please remove the people that are shouting,” said McCallum, calling a recess shortly after.

During the recess, the mayor and councillors Patton, Guerra, Doug Elford and Mandeep Nagra left the council chambers for about 11 minutes.

When McCallum and the councillors returned, McCallum said there would be no other speakers.

Councillor Steven Pettigrew asked why and McCallum cited “safety conditions.”

Standing up, Pettigrew could be heard saying, “Mr. Mayor, you will let us speak… You’re a pathetic leader… You should resign.” Pettigrew then turned his back on council.

Within four minutes, McCallum breezed through more than 30 motions relating to the budget.

Through all of that, councillors Pettigrew, Brenda Locke, Jack Hundial and Linda Annis all had their mics on, waiting to speak. Both Pettigrew and Locke called for point of order.

After council passed the budget, in multiple 5-4 votes, McCallum called for a second recess amid shouts of “resign” from the gallery. The recess lasted more than 30 minutes.

On Dec. 2, McCallum’s Safe Surrey coalition voted in favour of the budget following a public hearing that saw the public turn out in force to voice fierce opposition to the plan.

“Tonight was utterly embarrassing,” observer Jasmine Kaur Garcha posted to Twitter. “Actions by many were disgraceful and disgusting. It really brought out the ugly in people. The amount of racist undertones I also heard and was even asked point blank about was painful. Sigh. #SurreyBC is divided and it is painful to witness.”

Surrey Board of Trade voiced its disappointment in the budget approval.

“The role of Canadian cities (is) to provide services such as policing, firefighting, sanitation and recreation that are vital to our quality of life,” board CEO Anita Huberman stated. “To do these things, cities raise and spend large amounts of money. Taxes affect decisions about where to live and invest.”

More to come

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Image: CDC)
Fraser Health orders Surrey food-processing facility to close amid COVID-19 outbreak

Staff member at Surrey long-term care facility also tests positive for the virus

Upgrades underway at the Sunnyside Reservoir, adjacent to Sunnyside Acres Urban Forest, raised concerns among some residents Tuesday (Oct. 20), however, stewards of the park say everything went off without a hitch. (Tracy Holmes photo)
‘No issue’ with South Surrey reservoir drainage, despite trail user concerns: urban forest steward

Forest visitor taken aback by ‘unprecedented flooding’ of trails

A reminder to students at Surrey’s Strawberry Hill Elementary to physically distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo: Lauren Collins)
Six Surrey schools reporting COVID-19 exposures

INTERACTIVE TABLE: Search for schools, organize by exposure dates

Lotto winner Erwin Espiritu. (submitted photo: BCLC media relations)
$1M lotto surprise for Surrey dad buying takeout food for son’s birthday

‘When I went to show my son, he said that there was six zeros on the screen, not three’

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

The possibility of the Canadian Premier League expanding to the Fraser Valley has been floated online. (Facebook photo)
Canadian Premier League possibly eyeing Fraser Valley expansion

Soccer league looking to add ninth team to the mix, B.C. markets potentially rumoured

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

The family of Anika Janz, who died after collapsing at school, has launched a GoFundMe to assist with funeral proceedings. (GoFundMe photo)
Family of student who died launches GoFundMe

Rick Hansen Secondary School student Anika Janz, 14, died after collapsing in PE class

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read