Surrey residents ready for change, poll suggests

SURREY – Mayor Dianne Watts announced her retirement from Surrey’s political scene on Saturday and a new poll shows many residents are ready for change at city hall.

In an Insights West poll, released Monday, two thirds of residents (68 per cent) say they are ready for either a significant or small change in their legislators. Only 20 per cent would like to see no change at all.

The race for the mayor’s chair appears to be wide open, says an Insights West press release, adding that four current councillors hold similar levels of acquaintance with the population. “Councillor Barinder Rasode enjoys the strongest level of high familiarity over Linda Hepner, Tom Gill and Bruce Hayne,” the press release states.

The online survey was conducted in late March before Watts announced she would not seek a fourth term, and showed that 49 per cent of residents regard crime as the city’s most important issue, followed by transportation at 22 per cent, health care at seven per cent and education at six per cent.

In the survey, the city received high marks for its handling of parks, recreation and arts (66 per cent), governing the city (56 per cent), development within the city (56 per cent), economic development (55 per cent) and improving Surrey’s image (52 per cent). But residents offered mixed reviews on city services (47 per cent), the way the government has handled the city’s finances (45 per cent) and their efforts to keep property taxes low and control spending (37 per cent).

Three issues received a “very low” rating, which Insights West believes will emerge as key themes in the upcoming election. Only one-in-four Surrey residents think their government has handled transportation well. Only 18 per cent were satisfied with the way it has handled homelessness, and only 16 per cent were pleased with the way city hall has dealt with crime and public safety.

Results for the poll are based on an online study conducted from March 21 to 23, 2014 among 507 Surrey residents. Insights West says the poll has a margin of error of +/-4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.