Surrey City Hall

Surrey election

Surrey’s mayoral candidates civil at the Civic in Whalley

Event at newly opened Civic Hotel, a short stroll from city hall and coveted big-city mayor’s seat

Surrey’s eight are out of the gate.

The city’s mayoral campaign horse race galloped apace Wednesday night during an all-candidates meeting sponsored by the Downtown Surrey Business Improvement Association at Whalley’s new Civic Hotel, a short stroll from city hall and that coveted big-city mayor’s seat.

In the running for mayor are Tom Gill (Surrey First), Pauline Greaves (Proudly Surrey), Bruce Hayne (Integrity Now), Rajesh Jayaprakash (People First Surrey), Doug McCallum (Safe Surrey Coalition), Francois Nantel (Independent), Imtiaz Popat (Progressive Sustainable Surrey) and John Wolanski (Independent).

“Our first council meeting we will withdraw from the RCMP, and we will form our own Surrey police force,” McCallum said in his opening remarks, to a mostly full house. About 200 people attended the meeting.

Asked what his style of mayoring is, McCallum described it as “open door.

“I answered all of my phone calls,” the former mayor said of his nine years in office.

Popat took a poke at McCallum, saying, “The gang violence probably started when Doug McCallum was mayor.”

When Nantel was asked what the root of crime is, a woman in the back yelled out, “Inequality!”

Greaves, the sole female mayoral candidate, said if elected her slate would move to set up a “South Fraser Police Department” through which the city would make sure it is “actually training the police force in all of the courses that they need, things like social work, criminology, psychology” and deploy police resources where needed.

“I’m running for mayor because I’m tired of 18 years of hearing the same thing,” she said. “Representation over this period of time requires leadership, and we had none.”

“Every day gets harder for working class families,” Greaves said. “Every day things get harder but the policies stay the same.

“It’s time for a Surrey that all families can afford.”

On the issue of affordable housing, Gill says it would have to be distributed throughout the city. “It’s a huge issue.”

“At the end of the day, it’s about youth and young families,” he said.

Greaves said if elected her slate would bring in an empty house tax similar to Vancouver’s. She says too many residents leave Surrey for a long time with no contribution to the city or its budget.

Hayne disagrees, noting Surrey has a one per cent housing vacancy rate. “Empty houses is simply not the issue we have in this community,” he said. He says he would not get behind such a tax.

Nor would Gill, who argues that the city should focus instead on increasing housing supply.

One topic raised was public consultation versus public information sessions. Hayne says they’re not the same. “That’s what I’m about, collaboration,” he said, “so we get it right the first time.”

Gill admitted the city is “slipping” on dealing with the feedback it’s getting from residents.“Many times there’s misinformation that’s been circulated by certain groups,” he said.

Popat raised the matter of opposition to the city running a road through Hawthorne Park.

“Where was the consultation then?” he demanded, adding that the city’s current government “doesn’t listen.”

Gill, in his closing remarks, noted that he moved here in 1986, at a time when Surrey was a target for jokes. “We’re not that City any more,” he said. “Let’s be the best city in North America. We are different, we are unique.”

Hayne said simplistic answers to complex questions is something the residents of Surrey won’t be getting from Integrity Now.

Taking a poke at Gill’s call for a referendum on the future of the RCMP in this city, McCallum said there’s no need for a referendum as this election is the referendum. Popat agreed.

Greaves said city hall is currently “unaccountable.

“We absolutely need to do better,” she said.

McCallum said gridlock in this city is “getting worse every day.”

“Again, on our first council meeting we’re going to cancel the light rail project and we’re going to build SkyTrain from City Centre out through Fleetwood, Clayton into Langley and the second phase is going from the City Centre out through Newton to South Surrey,” he told the audience. “We’re going to pause development and we’re going to turn to smart development. Smart development means densifying along corridors.”

Nantel said the LRT is “a total disaster in the making.” He’s calling for an “elevated, suspended rail system” that would have a “smaller footprint” and not interfere with existing traffic.

Prior to the meeting, the BIA presented each candidate with a list of 21 questions asking, among them, why they’re running for mayor as well as their positions on affordable housing, crime, transportation and transparency.

On the latter, Wolanski said he would publish a record of how councillors and the mayor vote “on all issues presented before them for perusal,” while Jayaprakash said People First Surrey would “use technology to attain a similar level of transparency to every city transaction and contracts.”

READ ALSO: Surrey mayoral hopefuls asked how they’ll ‘restore public confidence’ in city hall

READ ALSO: ‘Speed dating’ all-candidates meeting in Surrey zeroes in on homelessness and housing

Greaves said Proudly Surrey, if elected, would bring more transparency into city hall by “eliminating a ‘silo’ mentality where departments control the flow of communication that hinders the process,” and reducing the number of staff that report to the city manager and increasing the number of employees reporting to council, as well as implementing a “strict code of ethics” and requiring elected officials and their spouses to disclose the assets.

“We need to prohibit elected officials from practicing in a profession that is likely to conflict with their public duties,” Greaves said.

Councillor Gill said “we need to proactively engage with our community and keep them up to date with what is going on at city hall.”

READ ALSO SURREY ELECTION: 8 running for mayor, 48 council hopefuls, 30 trustee candidates

READ ALSO: All-candidates meetings: In Surrey, civic election candidates have their say starting Sept. 25

Asked how he would bring transparency into city hall, Popat said “the lack of transparency and accountability is one of the main reasons why I am running for mayor.

“When public show concern and ask questions, they are ignored,” he charged. Popat said all bylaws need to be reviewed to “make sure that there are processes in place that will demand transparency and accountability similar to the new process of transparency and accountability in the new election financing process.”

Councillor Bruce Hayne said Integrity Now would “institute” an ombudsperson at city hall with the authority to “investigate and act on any complaints.

“Engaging community groups and collaborating on issues will help to ensure issues are broadly discussed and communicated,” Hayne said. “Broad consultation always leads to more transparency.” The ombudsperson, Hayne told the Civic Hotel crowd, would be “completely independent of mayor and council. It’s very important to have that independent third party,” he said.



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Tom on Twitter

Surrey mayoral civic election Civic Hotel City Hall

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

Just Posted

PHOTOS: The day 28,000 Lollapalooza-goers rocked Cloverdale in 1994

Fans share memories of drugs, bad Smashing Pumpkins, Nick Cave walk-off and ‘letdown’ of Surrey date

Surrey veteran feels pinch from COVID-19 after cancelled surgery

Caught between two countries, and low income, soldier feels he’s been forgotten

Surrey parents, students navigate remote learning during COVID-19

The Surrey school district teachers are slowly rolling out plans for new way of educating

Two people fined for trying to re-sell N95 and surgical masks in Delta

Police confiscated over 5,000 masks and are working with Fraser Health to see them put to good use

Peace Arch News ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Vancouver man, 21, charged after mother found dead in Squamish home

Ryan Grantham, 21, has been charged with second-degree murder

Fraser Valley’s tulips fields off limits to visitors due to COVID-19

Abbotsford and Chilliwack tulip farmers have announced their festival season won’t go ahead

Don’t stop going to the doctor, just do it virtually: B.C. association

Doctors encourage patients to access telephone, online visits

Most Read