COLUMN: Has it been 12 months already?

Here’s my take on some of the good, bad, and ugly of 2011.

For better and for worse, it’s been a whirlwind of a year in this area of the region. Here’s my take on some of the good, bad, and ugly of 2011.

Good: Political shake-up – federally.

In May, the federal NDP’s “Orange Crush” rolled through Surrey and Delta, with the party stealing a seat from both the Liberals and the Conservatives. On May 2, the NDP’s Jinny Sims knocked out Liberal Sukh Dhaliwal in Newton-North Delta, and the left-leaning party also installed Jasbir Sandhu, who displaced the increasingly obscure Surrey-North Conservative MP Dona Cadman. (Sadly, NDP leader Jack Layton did not live to bask in his incredible political success in ushering the party to Official Opposition status).

Bad: Political lockdown – municipally.

In November, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and her Surrey First team swept city council – and took all but two slots on school board. This is the first time in history Surrey has had an unopposed council.

As if that’s not enough to rile, this month, Surrey council appointed councillors as chairs of each of the city’s select committees (which advise council on various issues, such as the environment, the arts and heritage preservation) – a move which will further quell any opposition to council’s objectives.

Ugly: Surrey – City of Litterbugs.

In March, Surrey vowed a crackdown after discovering it cost more than $800,000 the previous year to clean up trash dumped in Surrey neighbourhoods. The problem continues unabated, with local blogger Danna Casto (http://keep documenting a staggering amount of garbage discarded in her North Surrey community on a daily basis.

Good: New school funds.

In October, the Surrey School District finally received money to build new school space, with the provincial government providing more than $102 million to expand two local high schools, build two new elementary schools and buy land for four future schools.

Bad: New school funds.

A bit of a case of too little, too late. B.C.’s largest and fastest-growing school district hasn’t received new school funding since 2005, leaving 250-plus portables in Surrey. Even if construction were to start now, it takes at least three years to build a school.

Good: Celebrating in style.

When the Canucks made it to the Stanley Cup finals, impromptu gatherings as Scott Road and 72 Avenue were fun, inclusive and violence free. Ditto the official celebrations hosted by the city at Central City plaza.

Bad: That horrible Game 7 against Boston, the memory of which shall never again be evoked in this space.

Ugly: Roving rioters.

More than one-third (21) of the first batch of 60 suspects facing charges for their involvement in the June 15 Stanley Cup riot are from Surrey. Two hail from Delta. Way to rock our reputation south of the Fraser, people.

Good: Kicking HST to the curb.

Okay, there’s a helping of bad with this one too. It’s going to be costly to reverse, but the grassroots groundswell against an arrogant government is a reminder to citizens and politicians alike: The power of the people is a force to be reckoned with.

Bad: Justice denied.

Chronic delays in B.C.’s congested court system only intensified in 2011. And with the provincial government rejecting calls for an emergency cash infusion, the number of criminal cases at risk of being thrown out due to excessive delays is on the rise. Will 2012 be the Year of the Acquittal?

Ugly: Holiday homicides.

The year ends on a tragic note as a flurry of shootings over the Christmas holiday leaves four dead and one injured. It’s a violent end to 2011 that leaves everyone hoping for a more harmonious start to the new year.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy and peaceful 2012.

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