Is such opulence really necessary for a city hall?

Surrey – The Editor, Re: The Now’s coverage of Surrey’s new city hall.

 

I wandered into Surrey’s new city hall, quite by accident, and was simply blown away by the opulence of a structure erected to house our city civil service staff.

 

To say I was outraged at this over-the-top structure built on the taxpayers’ dime would be a gross understatement. Surely our civic governance people have truly moved to another universe in their thinking.

 

Do we need this $97-million structure (bet the final numbers are significantly higher) to house civil servants to conduct business of the city? You bet not.

 

The three articles you recently published are very informative and your reporter Jacob Zinn should be commended for making sure that we, the uninformed masses, are actually getting realistic information about what can surely be viewed as government waste of taxpayers’ money.

 

Some of the comments attributed to the mayor are mind-boggling and I believe designed to cause confusion.

 

Counting money not yet committed – like the rental from the old city hall or saying construction of a city hall in this location has drawn $3 billion in private sector investment – is absurd. Private sector investment is drawn by monetary incentives and favourable zonings created by the city.

 

Why would private sector investment care if there is a city hall near their development? It does not create any kind of value to the developer at all.

 

The city says the taxpayer will not pay a dime of the financing costs of some $48 million. It says this money will come from revenue generated by private sector investment. I say that money should have gone into general revenue and been spent on crime reduction, infrastructure, homeless shelters, low-cost housing, etc. Paying interest for this over-the-top building is simply a waste.

 

Seems to me we were originally told the new digs would cost in the mid $50-million range. Then we’re told that figure was the result of deducting the money the provincial government was going to pay for a 10-year lease on the old city hall, which never came to fruition.

 

At the end of the day, I believe many taxpayers of this city are beginning to feel like mushrooms (remember how mushrooms are nourished?) I think we are all being kept in the dark about a lot of issues at city hall. This is exactly what happens when there is singleparty governance – there are no voices of opposition keeping the taxpayer informed.

 

Remember – elections are coming this fall and I hope many voters will think long and hard before marking their ballots.

 

Andrew Johnston

 

Surrey

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