A Surrey city councillor says she will oppose a city staff recommendation to come before council tonight (May 30) that’s aimed at removing City of Surrey advertising from community newspapers to rely on “alternative methods of public notice” that include social media.
“Cutting community newspaper advertising, while relying on social media doesn’t increase community consultation, it will reduce it,” Coun. Linda Annis warned.
“Over 100,000 copies of local papers are delivered in Surrey every week, and that is one of the best ways to connect with our residents because those papers are read right across the city. Hoping people will go to the city website or connect through social media isn’t good enough. Social media is a terrific addition, but we should be using multiple tools, rather than cutting out something as valuable as community newspapers.”
Annis, of Surrey First, said in a press release Monday that local community newspapers have “tremendous reach and need to be part of the way the city connects with its residents.”
“Social media certainly helps and using those tools is important,” she added, “but when you have 100,000 papers delivered in Surrey every week we need to be in those deliveries if we really take community outreach seriously. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine a communications tool with more reach and impact.”
In a corporate report entitled “Bill 26 – Alternative Methods of Public Notice – the city’s corporate services and planning and development departments recommend that council authorize staff to bring forward for its consideration “a new public notice bylaw” that, if passed, would permit the city to publish notice by “methods other than newspaper publication.”
The report, authored by Surrey’s general manager of corporate services Rob Costanzo and Jeff Arason, acting general manager of planning and development, notes that currently the “default method” of providing public notice is through publishing in a newspaper that circulates in the community once each week for two consecutive weeks.
The corporate report notes that on Feb. 28 the provincial government brought amendments into force that under Section 94 of the Community Charter allow “new alternative public notice options, pursuant to the Municipal Affairs Statutes Amendment Act, or Bill 26.