File photo

Surrey mayor ‘could not be any prouder’ as budget 2021 passes on five-to-four vote

‘We have been a beacon of light in difficult times,’ Councillor Allison Patton says

Surrey’s bitterly contested city budget 2021 was approved on a predictable five-to-four vote on Monday night with the Safe Surrey Coalition majority pushing it through.

“I could not be any prouder,” Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum said of the budget. “I’ve never seen a budget as good as this one, for the times.

“It’s a budget for the times, it’s a budget that will go down in history in Surrey, of the way to come out of a pandemic or any disaster.”

Each council member discharged their minds on the matter, some with biting comments for their council rivals.

While Safe Surrey Coalition says the budget holds the line with a general property tax increase of 2.9 per cent for the third year in a row, the minority on council argue that Surrey residents’ tax bill will be much more than that, with some paying 12 to 15 per cent more in 2021.

A particular bone of contention for many critical of the budget is a 200 per cent increase in the capital parcel tax increase, which sat at $100 per parcel but is now increasing to $300. The intent of this tax is to pay for 16 community projects, among them a city centre sports complex and various park improvements.

READ ALSO: Locke, Hundial, quit city committee in protest against Surrey parcel tax increase

READ ALSO: Surrey mayor taking it on the chin during budget public hearing

READ ALSO: Surrey mayor, councillor, a canyon apart on proposed tax hike

Councillor Allison Patton said she supports the budget “whole-heartedly and fully.

“I think that we’ve managed extremely well in these very difficult times,” she added.

“We have been a beacon of light in difficult times and that’s what leaders do,” Patton said. “These times challenge us all and we have to decide who are we today – are we positive, are we people who are energized, or are we going to be negative and focus on what’s wrong all the time. I suggest and encourage us all to think more positively, what is going right, because there is a lot to be thankful for.

“We really must plan for the future as opposed to succumb to the fears of today,” she said.

Councillor Brenda Locke said she doesn’t support the parcel tax. “I think this does not meet what the Community Charter intended it to be,” she said, noting that there is an appeals process available to the public.

Councillor Linda Annis didn’t support the budget either, “particularly with the news today when we hear we’re going to be going into a further lockdown.

“It means more people will be losing their jobs, yet we’re heaping on massive property taxes and I’m very, very concerned about that. I’m concerned about people losing their homes and their businesses because they’re paying more taxes, it’s just one more thing for them to worry about,” Annis said. “I’m also really concerned about the city going into debt, $130 million in borrowing plus $7 million for operating costs. We all need to be tightening our belts right now.”

Councillor Steven Pettigrew echoed that. “Who are we taxing? We are taxing the people that can least afford it,” he said. “This is just a real hardship upon them.”

Council approved 31 bylaws related to the budget. Councillor Jack Hundial said that “now is not the time to be taking on significant debt.”

Councillor Laurie Guerra, however, argued that “now is the time to borrow money at the lowest rates I’ve ever seen to fund much-needed infrastructure projects in one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. Surrey remains at the bottom one-third of the municipalities in the Metro Vancouver Region in terms of residential taxes paid.”

“I too am a taxpayer,” she said. “I don’t take this decision lightly.

“For me, it’s worth it.”

Councillor Mandeep Nagra called it the “best budget the city has seen so far in our term” and Councillor Doug Elford said the budget “delivers much-needed infrastructure now, while serving the needs of the future of the people of Surrey. Now is not the time to slow things down.”

Meantime, prior to Monday’s council meeting Locke and Hundial, both of the Surrey Connect Slate, stepped down from the Parcel Tax Review Committee in protest against the 200 per cent increase.

“It is unfair and punitive during this time of financial insecurity,” Locke said. “It hurts everyone, especially those who can least afford it – seniors, single parents and families in modest housing will feel the brunt of this tax.”

The Surrey Connect councillors say that with the addition of this levy the tax increase on an average single family house will be 11.25 per cent and for an average townhouse, 14 per cent.

Hundial said these increases are designed to “shore up” funding for replacing the Surrey RCMP with the Surrey Police Service, “for which a final cost is yet to be determined and the majority of Surreyites still do not want.

“These are unprecedented times and there is only one taxpayer to support spending for all levels of government,” Hundial said.

A group identifying itself as “angry women taxpayers” delivered 200 parcel tacks to city hall on Monday afternoon, in a gesture of protest against the parcel tax.

Protest organizer Annie Kaps noted that a resident living in a studio apartment with a murphy bed, and a small business owner, will under the levy pay the same $200 parcel tax increase as an owner of a “mega-house” with multiple families or a large business, such as Costco on King George Boulevard for example.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook and follow Tom on Twitter

City of Surrey

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

Just Posted

Record-setting high jumper Emma de Boer, who lives in Cloverdale and attends Holy Cross Regional High School in Fleetwood, will train and study architecture at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn) next fall. (submitted photo)
Surrey jumper on a high after recruitment by UPenn track team

High jumper Emma de Boer aims to leave Cloverdale for Philadelphia next fall

Surrey RCMP Gang Enforcement Team street check. (File photo)
Surrey RCMP gang enforcement team seizes five vehicles

This was over 13 days, as SGET continues to target gang activity in this city

File photo
Surrey to borrow $150 million for three major recreation projects

That’s for a sports complex in the city centre, a sports and ice complex in Cloverdale and a community centre in Newton

The White Birch proposal for a six-storey rental-only building at 1485 Fir St. was turned down by council on Monday night. (Contributed rendering)
White Birch developer feels ‘betrayed’ by City of White Rock council

Application for new rental building at 1485 Fir St. turned down by council

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

RCMP officers wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 stand by. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
RCMP appeal for witnesses after hit-and-run leaves girl, 17, in critical condition

The Metro Vancouver teenager was found unconscious and critically injured after being hit: police

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read