Surrey city council voted on Monday to revive the Public Safety Committee, which was terminated by the last council’s Safe Surrey Coalition majority. It also established six other committees.
In July 2019, former mayor Doug McCallum dissolved the Public Safety Committee, on which every council member sat, and replaced it with a Police Transition Advisory Committee comprised of himself and the four remaining Safe Surrey Coalition councillors Laurie Guerra, Mandeep Nagra, Allison Patton and Doug Elford.
Excluded were Councillors Jack Hundial – who served with the Surrey RCMP for 25 years – Steven Pettigrew, Brenda Locke, and Linda Annis, who also serves as the executive director of Crime Stoppers.
Then-councillor Locke (now Surrey’s mayor) and Annis unsuccessfully tried to have it revived during the last term.
“We’ve had this committee in place for more than 15 years until the mayor dissolved it in July of 2019 in favour of the police transition committee,” Annis noted in 2020. It was a long-standing committee that saw all of council meet regularly with police, fire department and emergency responders, bylaws enforcement staff as well as medical health officers, to discuss public safety priorities and initiatives for the city.
As well as the Public Safety Committee, council on Jan. 16 also established an Agricultural and Food Policy Committee, Environment and Climate Change Committee, Livability and Social Equity Committee, Investment, Innovation and Business Committee, Parks, Recreation and Tourism Advisory Committee, and an Arts and Culture Advisory Committee.
The report, by Surrey’s general manager of corporate services Rob Costanzo, notes such committees are typically comprised of council members and residents, with a mandate to inform council on matters of public of concern and make recommendations.
In December city staff put out a call for volunteers for the various committees. Those interested must submit an application by Jan. 20 and after that, a list of candidates will be put before council for consideration.
“I’m excited about this, to get it started again,” Locke remarked on Monday. “I hope if people haven’t already, please do get your names in. It is good news to re-engage with the public.”
Annis said she’s pleased to see the committees coming back “and to see that we’re engaging more with the community.”
“I guess we’ll hear soon once the committees will be finalized, I think the deadline is just in another week for people to submit and I hope we get lots of applications,” Annis said.
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