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

Lord Tweedsmuir tops Tamanawis in all-cat fight for Surrey RCMP Classic title

Panthers’ Jaeden Reid was named MVP at all-Surrey boys tournament

Surrey students donate 2,000 pairs of socks

Initiative part of the Leo Club program

Surrey hosts grand-opening ceremony of North Surrey arena complex

‘Accessible’ facility features three sheets of ice

Trade to hometown team a ‘blessing in disguise’ for Surrey Eagles defenceman

Kieran O’Hearn gets to play in front of family, who live just minutes from South Surrey Arena

White Rock solid waste open house scheduled

Event to take place next month

After cashing in on QB gambles, Chiefs and 49ers to clash in Super Bowl

KC beats Tennessee, San Francisco dispatches Green Bay to reach NFL title game

VIDEO: SPCA and RCMP remove several animals, including pig, at private animal rescue in Langley

Home at 5500 block of 216th Street has undergone multiple seizures over the past five years

B.C. VIEWS: Few clouds on Horgan’s horizon

Horgan’s biggest challenge in the remainder of his term will be to keep the economy humming along

Victoria family focuses on ‘letting go, enjoying time together’ after dad gets dementia

Walter Strauss has developed an interest in music and now takes line dancing classes

B.C. forest industry grasps for hope amid seven-month strike, shutdowns, changes

Some experts say this could be worse for forestry than the 2008 financial crisis

Northern B.C. RCMP investigating alleged sexual assault in downtown Smithers

One person was transported by ambulance to hospital following RCMP investigation at Sedaz

Vancouver police probe second homicide in less than 24 hours

Woman was found dead in her Gastown home

UBC, Iranian-Canadian community create memorial scholarship in honour of victims

The Jan. 8 crash killed 176 people, including 57 Canadians

Most Read