Is public safety really Surrey’s biggest issue heading into the October civic elections?
It would certainly be no surprise. An opinion survey recently conducted by Research Co. suggests 55 per cent of Surrey’s residents believe crime is worse here than elsewhere in Metro Vancouver.
Also recently, we’ve been inundated with a plethora of reports and rafts of recommendations on dealing with gang violence in this city, from Wake Up Surrey, the Surrey Mayor’s Task Force on Gang Violence Prevention, and a new civic slate, Proudly Surrey, revealing its platform on how it would tackle the problem.
A decades-old debate has also re-emerged on whether the RCMP, which replaced the Surrey Police Force on May 1, 1951, should itself be replaced with a new city police force.
There is a dark horse in this election campaign, as far as issues go: Public spending. Surrey voters must be careful what they support, as some attempts to remedy the city’s public safety issues will not come cheap.
Costs to ratepayers rose last year under the current Surrey First city council’s watch. City council alone cost residents more than $930,541 in 2017 compared to $825,000 in 2016. In general, city expenses rose to $737.2 million last year from $698.8 million in 2017.
And that’s the status quo. Proudly Surrey, which wants to replace that status quo, says it would increase the city’s policing budget to “pay for a 30 per cent higher officer presence” and ensure that all residential streets without sidewalks will get sidewalks.
Surrey voters would be well-advised to consider the costs associated to all campaign platform promises, from all candidates, before they decide who to elect on Oct. 20. It could get expensive, and nobody wants sticker shock.