Second in a series of profiles on Surrey city councillors elected on Oct. 15
Surrey lawyer Harry Bains ranked second among 56 councillor candidates – second only to chart-topper Linda Annis in the Oct. 15 civic election – with 33,708 votes. Definitely not bad for a first-time foray into any political theatre.
Why does Bains think so many people voted for him?
“You’d have to ask them,” the Newton resident replied. “I don’t know. I’m happy they have a lot of trust in me and it puts a lot of responsibility on my shoulders, I mean, when you have that many people voting for you, you realize that these people are looking at you as somebody who will speak for them and act in their best interest. That’s something I don’t carry lightly, I don’t take that lightly – it’s important to me that we do the right thing for the citizens of the city.”
And why did he stand for election?
“I want to do something good for the city and I’ve always thought about politics, and this opportunity arose. I had a great conversation with Brenda (Locke, mayor-elect) and a lot of what she was saying made sense to me – things like transparency at city hall, accountability for our elected officials, and generally working for the benefit of the citizens of the city and it made a lot of sense to me, so it didn’t take a lot of convincing on Brenda’s part. When I heard what she had to say, I was happy to join.”
Bains moved here from Calgary “in between Grade 5 and Grade 6,” first attending Cougar Creek elementary school, then Beaver Creek elementary. He is a graduate of Tamanawis Secondary.
The Surrey Connect councillor-elect will be sworn in on Nov. 7, along with Surrey Connect Mayor Brenda Locke and fellow Surrey Connect councillors Gordon Hepner, Rob Stutt and Pardeep Kooner, Surrey First councillors Linda Annis and Mike Bose, and Safe Surrey Coalition councillors Doug Elford and Mandeep Nagra.
Bains and his wife have two sons ages nine and seven. He describes himself as a “family guy” who goes to his kids’ hockey games. “I like being a dad. That to me is very important, I’m very involved with my kids,” Bains said.
“To me, nothing is more important than family. It’s important that my children be raised with the right values and the right people around them, and just be good people.”
Bains is also a partner with Virsa Law Group LLP in Panorama. Part of his law practise has involved dealing with city hall, engineers, surveyors and planners. He intends to continue his practise, albeit “stepping back a little bit from the law firm to make time for the council role.
“But it’s something I’ll be able to do, both at the same time. Again, I’ve got very supportive partners so if the needs increase on the council side I can step back from the law firm.”
During the election campaign Bains told the Now-Leader he’s “able to identify a lot of problems that engineers have with the city, or the engineers have with the city, or even the home builders themselves have with the city and that’s where I’m hoping I can leverage that expertise to build in efficiencies at city hall and hopefully work with people to fix the system so that you aren’t waiting for three years to put shovels in the ground.”
Having never held public office until now, what is he anticipating?
“I’m anticipating a lot of work. There’s a lot we have to fix in the city and I’m up for the job. I think the first thing that we’re going to have to do is open up city hall again. There’s a lack of two-way communication and I think we have to get back to having advisory committees, we need to get back to just informing the residents of what’s going on,” Bains said. “We need to make sure that the residents are part of the process, not just being told what’s going on.”
As for the new configuration on council, he said, he’s open to working with everybody.
“Like I said, I’m new to politics. I don’t have any feelings about certain people on council that have been there before. I’m open, I want to work with people. We have to put any differences we have aside to do what’s best for the city and no more petty politics, let’s get to work and let’s do the right thing.”
And as for his newly minted civic responsibility, Bains he’s “very proud” to have been elected and “very thankful” for all the support from the people who voted for him.
“I just hope at the end of my term, whenever that may be, that people look back and say ‘hey, that was a good vote and I’m glad we voted for him.’”