” New City Hall ‘irresponsible'”

Great new article from Amy Reid of The Now, detailing the bylaw authorizing the $97 million dollar loan passed by Surrey First mayor and council.


Watts insists project’s net cost is $50 million; Surrey mayoral candidate Buchanan calls for review
By Amy Reid, The Now November 15, 2011

“While it’s public knowledge that a new Surrey city hall is in the works, there’s been much back and forth between Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts and her election opponents about the cost and transparency of the project.

The city has maintained that the project will cost $50 million net.

But mayoral hopeful Ross Buchanan says there’s been a lack of transparency, lack of public consultation and $97 million in debt with the project.

Through a bylaw created in September 2010, the city secured $97 million that it could borrow through the Municipal Finance Authority.

The new city hall project has a cost of $87 million, but leasing the current city hall to the tune of $37 million will eventually pay down the project to $50 million net, which is how Watts broke down the figure.

City staff are negotiating with the provincial government for the lease of the existing city hall for justice purposes.

The remaining $10 million from the $97 million total is a contingency fund, only to be used if necessary, said Watts.

The bylaw that allowed the city to borrow the money states that it is intended to “authorize the borrowing for the construction of a new city hall in Surrey city centre.”

The bylaw also states “AND WHEREAS the estimated cost of constructing the new City Hall included expenses incidental thereto is the sum of $97 million which is the amount of debt created by this bylaw.”

The bylaw goes on to say that the maximum term for which debentures may be issued to secure the debt created by the bylaw is 30 years.

The current city hall had $11.7 million in expansion and upgrades within the last decade.

Watts said the new city hall will not be just for government…”

Read more: http://www.thenownewspaper.com/news/city+hall+irresponsible/5711515/story.html#ixzz1dn0PCBGu

South Surrey Residents all candidates meeting November 14th, 2011

~ Current mayor Dianne Watts defending both Surrey Economic summits and her invitation to George Bush.

South Surrey residents packed Rotary Field House this evening for one of the last all candidates meetings before voters hit the polls next weekend, and to this observer, one thing was clear.

Surrey residents know what they want this year and they aren’t afraid to ask the questions that matter to current and potential candidates for the mayoral and council positions soon up for grabs.

Hot topics of the night – based on crowd reaction to answers- were how candidates would handle the Semiahmoo Town Centre plan, George Bush and the continuance of Economic Summits in Surrey and crime.

So where do the candidates stand on some of the issues from this evening? Here’s what stood out for me. The two biggest areas where opposing political slates and independent candidates were nearly polar opposites were whether or not  they agreed that reported( key word there) crime is decreasing in the city, and George Bush.

With respect to crime, all Surrey First candidates agreed crime is decreasing in Surrey, and nearly all SCC candidates disagreed with that statement.

Surrey First candidates who chose to speak to that issue, used statistics as the governing reason why crime is down, as well as the crime reduction strategy.

Surrey Civic Coalition candidates who chose to speak to that issue, mentioned the flaws and misinformation in the statistics, which do not report all crimes, count all crimes the same way, and use qualifiers that make some of the statistics virtually useless. Ross Buchanan mentioned that in some cases, crime is actually up and Grant Rice pointed out that in the case of Violent crime, its a near flat line over several years.

Candidates were asked a) if the presence of George Bush was beneficial or not to the city locally, nationally and internationally  and b) if elected would they continue the summits and who they might invite.

Bob Bose: No, and showed a lack of good judgement by the city.

Ross Buchanan: No, invitation despite opposition ruptured trust between citizens and city hall. Questioned true cost to city of hosting event

Rina Gill: No, gave city a bad reputation and questioned policing costs.

Bruce Hayne:  Yes – ” takes unpopular position” and states yes, he is a businessman, takes staff and sometimes clients, paid for his own ticket and theirs, so important for local economy in Surrey.( Bruce is the new man on Surrey First, is not currently elected, with hopes to win over Bose’s seat which would make our entire Surrey council, all Surrey First.)

Linda Hepner- Absolutely yes a good idea to have Bush and yes it was big benefit to Surrey. States summits are part of Economic Investment Strategy

Barinder Rasode: Yes, states we need to listen to those we don’t agree with so we can learn from their failures.

Grant Rice: No, states no way Bush benefitted Surrey, questions how Muslims in Surrey must have felt about Bush coming. ( Watts shook her head and said” Oh my God” to that)

Watts: Yes, mentioned again how other things were talked about, and that what our American neighbours do affects us, would continue summits and stated that a muslim person at the back of the room was at the summit and she didn’t believe he was offended.

Unfortunately, I had to leave before the last two questions were heard and prior to the candidates one minute pitch to the crowd why they should vote for them, but the undercurrent of the evening definitely spoke to a strong feeling of change and discontent in the city, one that might make this years election a crucial one for some candidates feeling the heat. With only 5 days to go, it’s everyman, or woman, for themselves.

A message from Ross Buchanan, independent candidate for mayor of Surrey.

Two things for you today on the campaign trail in Surrey!

Recently Ross received an email from a reporter asking him “what your previous political/leadership experience is and why those experiences qualify you to run a major Canadian city with a huge budget, council process, hundreds of policemen and major crimes.”

Valid question, absolutely, and one that would have greatly served the voters of Surrey to hear in totality. However, the truth is there are tight word and space limits for reported stories and so the answer was understandibly abbreviated to the line ” Ross has leadership experience”. No criticism  or reflection on the reporter at all, in fact they did a great job on the focus of the story- but I felt that the small line about leadership experience doesn’t really convey the wealth of total experience and knowledge Ross brings to the table. Unlike many current political leaders, he even holds a university degree in public administration. So, for those wanting to know a bit more about Ross’s experience, here is the total answer :

“Good question. I guess you have to wonder what makes anyone qualified for this kind of responsibility don’t you? The good news is that any mayor is supported by a wealth of professionals who are talented in their areas of expertise such as policing, finance, operations, etc. That is the operational excellence that I would hope to achieve at a managerial level.

What I offer to the citizens of Surrey is far beyond management…it is all about Leadership. The kind of mayor that I would be is a mayor who is focused on working “on” Surrey not simply “in” city hall.

In my capacity as CEO of Strategic Results International I have had the opportunity to work with over 1000 organizations in the last 23 years. In my two areas of specialization, Strategic Planning and Leadership, I have worked with leadership teams to help them move their organizations to new levels of success. Specifically much of my work in the last few years has been in helping clients to significantly shift self-limiting corporate cultures that have hindered their ability to best serve their stakeholders.

As a Consultant it is my job to view how other corporations and organizations could strengthen their success.

As a Strategist I will be able to help the city identify and shape a guiding vision for the future and to develop an action plan to the achievement of the goals.

Supported by a BA in Public Administration, the fact that I have no political experience is exactly why I will do a great job as a mayor. I am not a politician. I am not working towards any particular agenda nor am I owing to any political party. The only people I want to serve are the citizens of Surrey. My goal is to improve and strengthen what we already have in Surrey. The unfortunate situation we have in Surrey now -where Council is nearly a full slate of one political organization -has created a tenuous situation where debate and discourse no longer occurs, and that is what I hope to change.

My experience of providing Leadership Coaching to Premiers, Senators (USA), Cabinet Ministers (Provincial) and Mayors has been a great learning opportunity for me. Throughout my consulting career I have learned much from my clients. What I hope to achieve in terms of creating a Better Surrey is all about what I have learned from others specifically in the areas of inclusion of all and respect for the citizens.

I think the bottom line on this is, what I will be doing as Mayor of Surrey is exactly what clients have been asking me to do for their organizations for over two decades.”

~ Ross Buchanan.

Imagine that. A political leader with a university education… while I think we all agree it is not a necessary component for good leadership,it certainly is a plus.

The last thing I wanted to leave you is a feature that ran in the South Asian Journal recently, of the vision Ross holds for Surrey under his leadership. Written exclusively by him, from the heart, it speaks volumes to what we have lost in the quest for being biggest and best in Surrey, and what we stand to gain by reaching for change.

You be the judge.


Candidate for Mayor of Surrey

I appreciate the opportunity to share my vision for the future of Surrey with you. If elected, I commit to create a Better Surrey. So what does a Better Surrey look like?

To me a Better Surrey is created on a solid foundation of the ward system which will improve safety, reduce violence and foster accountability. We need wards. Our neighbourhoods are the backbone of our city and we need the ward system to help strengthen the communities.

My vision for the future of the city includes a city hall that is welcoming to ALL, not just to the elite of big money corporations and which is both respectful and responsive to all. This will require a huge culture shift at city hall and to help accelerate that shift I pledge to be on a stool at the kiosk inside the front doors of city hall for an hour every day that I am in the building. If you don’t get the help that you deserve as a citizen at city hall I want you to come see me. It is your city. It is your city hall. You deserve to be treated as a citizen not a subject and you deserve to be treated with respect.

The incidence of Violent Crime in Surrey is shameful. From 2009 to 2010 the numbers have skyrocketed. Weapons seizures are up 35%, Sexual Assault is up 30% and Home Break-ins are up 14%. What kind of fools do they think we are when they keep telling us that Surrey is safe?

My vision would be to personally head up a task force that will focus on the reality of these problems, discover the solutions and produce the results that we are all looking for. Reduced crime and a safer Surrey. A Surrey that we can all be proud of.
If you are sick and tired as I am of being taxed to death then you will want to stop the reckless, out of control spending at city hall that is driving up our taxes. In the last five years the population of Surrey has grown 4.8% and the expenditures at city hall have increased 43.8%. When is enough enough?

Spending has outpaced population growth by a factor of nearly 9 to 1. In the future of Surrey the leaders will need to stop this out of control taxation with zero based budgeting and not allow any tax increases to exceed the rate of inflation and population growth.

Building a community that works for families and keep this as the #1 priority at city hall is vital for a Better Surrey. For years the current mayor and council have made big business and the city centre “vision” their priority, and have lost sight of the core needs for families who live in Surrey. This means education funding, transportation services and health care access. We need the kind of mayor who will roll up his sleeves and fight to ensure that the citizens of surrey get “our fair share.”

My vision of Surrey does not include a new city hall. At a construction cost of $100 million and a loan repayment of $165 million to build this new city hall is a big mistake. Now is not the right time. We already have a great city hall that is centrally located and is the envy of other cities. To abandon what we already have is so wasteful.

What else do I see for the ideal future of Surrey?

I see Better Roads rather than what we are using now which in some areas are what you would expect in a third world country.

I see Cleaner Air to protect the health of our families and our children.

I see a Better Business environment that supports and fosters all business, not just big money multinational corporations. Let’s not leave our own businesses and people behind as we race into the future. I see properly constructed truck parking facilities located in the industrial zones.

I see a Surrey where we finally get “our fair share” of funding. I have had enough of the Province, Translink and Metro Vancouver sucking hundreds of millions of dollars out of the pockets of the citizens of Surrey. We need to let these other levels of government know that the citizens of Surrey are not their personal ATMs.

Our fair share of education funding, our fair share of health care, our fair share of public transportation. What this mayor and council have allowed to happen on their watch without fighting for the citizens of Surrey is shameful.

No longer can the city turn a blind eye to such a rampant, unchecked issue as the thousands of illegal suites in Surrey. I see a Surrey where legal suites should be allowed. Accommodations should be made to bring existing suites into compliance and the registration process should be inexpensive and easily completed.

Housing needs to be affordable and we need to keep a healthy supply of affordable rental housing available for all. The city through their failure to act has created this problem, not the citizens. Once the new rules are in place they should be enforced for new construction from this point forward.

I see a vibrant growing business sector that will continue to provide a wealth of job opportunities right here in Surrey. I see better planning and the provision for significant green spaces spread through the entire city. I see an increased sensitivity to the environmental issues of the day and a willingness to preserve and protect all of the wonderful natural assets that we have in Surrey.

I see a city where we welcome with open arms the Municipal Auditor to help us clean up some of what smells so badly at city hall. I am TOTALLY, 100% in favor of a Municipal Auditor.

We need an independent Municipal Auditor to unwrap the complex Enron-like accounting that includes the transfer of hundreds of millions of dollars of city owned land (your land) to the city’s private wholly owned corporation Surrey Center Development Corporation that is designed with one intent in mind. To circumvent Democracy.

I see a Surrey where George Bush or any of his kind is never invited again.

This list is not meant to be complete, however in response to what would be my vision for the future of the City of Surrey these are some of the things that would be important to me. In my mind Surrey could be so much better.

We are blessed with so many possibilities. Now is our time to create and claim a Better Surrey … a Surrey that we can all be Proud of.  I am a Caring and Courageous Man who will not stand by and allow bad things to happen. Above all else I would be honoured to serve the citizens of Surrey and to serve Democracy.  Please join me in restoring Democracy to Surrey city hall.

 ~ Ross Buchanan

Today, we pause to remember.

Not only those who lost their lives so many years ago, fighting for the freedoms and liberties we take for granted far too often, but all the brave Canadian soldiers who have lost their lives in the line of duty in more recent times, protecting the lives and freedoms of others in peacekeeping missions around the world.

Thank you.

But her iron grip on city hall seems to be loosening. Imagine what would happen if more than 24.5 per cent of Surrey’s eligible voters showed up

I had a great chat with David Carrigg of the Province today, asking why Watts wasn’t pushed about always pushing the net cost of the new city hall, rather than the actual, total cost.Well, I also asked for equal opportunity for a live blog chat with Province readers, and we talked about a few other things as well. and this is the result. Running front page on the Province online right now : http://blogs.theprovince.com/2011/11/10/municipal-matters-nov-10-is-surrey-mayor-dianne-watts-losing-her-grip/

On Wednesday, The Province held an editorial board meeting with Surrey mayor Dianne Watts. Watts is a civic political powerhouse and excellent on her feet.

However. After two terms of power, resistance is rising in the form of seven opposing mayoral candidates, two of whom – businessman Ross Buchanan and developer Vikram Bajwa – are pushing hard.

I had a chat this morning with Buchanan’s flak Laila Yuile, who wanted to know if her candidate would also get an editorial board meeting and 30-minute live question and answer. The answer to that is no, as Watts is an established player who came from the trenches to become commander.

When Buchanan does the same, he will get an editorial board meeting.

Regardless, Buchanan’s flak raised some interesting points about the real cost of Surrey’s $100-million new city hall, densification, school crowding, the cost of RCMP and Surrey voter disconnect. She says voters feel alienated from city hall and that once the day crowd leaves Whalley’s City Central development the area goes to the dogs.

Here is a letter sent to Municipal Matters writer Kent Spencer from a Surrey resident that points to the disconnect.

Dear Kent
thank you for taking the time and courage to write your articles
I can see residents all over are not save from council and city bad planning.
There is street in Surrey.
In the neighbourhood of Newton, city installed parking meters. Many petitions and letter were send ,e mail,faxed to oppose the idea.
In this democratic country no one cared and result is empty street 72 A Ave and almost empty street 137 str.. Business on street suffer, owners start to move out and planning to do so or going to be bankrupt. SOON> The value of the busineeses is down, no one is coming for service,no one will buy it.
The businesses are here for 15 years, practically all service oriented=hair salon,UPS store .dry cleaner, coffee shop, specialty food stores,
sadly former patrons are leaving for other options  where is free parking, and I must say no one in vast neighbourhood has parking meters. So why will somebody spend extra if the same service can be found just cross the street for free.?????
Please write about it,
Jana Feigl

In 2008, Watts got 51,423 votes compared to 8,465 for her sole opponent. This year, there are more opponents who will divide votes opposed to Watts, so she is still a shoe-in.

But her iron grip on city hall seems to be loosening. Imagine what would happen if more that 24.5 per cent of Surrey’s eligible voters showed up, as was the case in 2008?

Think about that. If there is one thing I know for certain, in these uncertain times, it is that the 99% are unhappy with the status quo, and they aren’t down at the Vancouver Art Gallery in tents. Tens of thousands of them live in Surrey. And they are tired of being left behind.

A reminder, to please come join us at the Violence forum this evening, details below!

Watts wrong with Surrey’s Crime Reduction Strategy?

 Independent candidate for mayor, Ross Buchanan, says enough is enough when it comes to the glossy media portrayal from Dianne Watts that everything is fine in Surrey, when crime is still a major issue for small businesses and residents in many neighbourhoods.

 “Clearly, something isn’t working here. I am talking to people in Newton and Whalley, people who own businesses who can’t keep up with all the problems around them. Good people who aren’t asking for help anymore because they city hall doesn’t seem to care. Yes, there are some really wonderful areas of Surrey, but there are also neighbourhoods crying out for help that have been virtually ignored by city hall for years. That has to stop.”

Buchanan states that the one thing he knows well, is that you cannot fix what you do not acknowledge, and the residents of Surrey deserve to know the truth when it comes to the prevalence of crime in the city.

“We have heard time and time again from Dianne Watts, that she believes the residents of Surrey are responding to the old perceptions of Surrey, rather than actual statistics. Well, the statistics show that  in many cases-  such as thefts from vehicles, theft under $5000, and robberies – the amount of crime has actually increased in the city from 2009 -2010” ( the last statistics released by the RCMP)

Buchanan understands the need to promote the city to businesses and new residents, but at the same time is hearing a worrying tone of apathy among  current residents and business owners who are no longer reporting crimes like thefts because too many claims result in skyrocketing insurance rates – for those who have insurance.

 “Many of these businesses and residents have made Surrey their home for generations. While the city has been concentrating on developing and promoting areas like Morgan Crossing, and City Centre, they have all but ignored what is going on in Newton and other areas like Whalley beyond the City Centre development. “

“I’m not seeing huge strides made in the city considering what the city has been investing in the Crime Reduction Strategy. In fact, from 2009 to 2010, violent crimes alone were actually up 1%, and that worries people, it worries me. It’s time to deal with reality, engage with people at the most basic level, and listen to them. Listen to their experiences, listen to what they see as failures and take back our streets. A safe community is a livable community, and it’s time someone stood up for the small businesses and neighbourhoods that are struggling with the impact of crime.”

Buchanan is so concerned about what he sees as a costly experiment in crime reduction, he organized and is hosting, a free forum on  The Truth About Crime in Surrey, which is open to all residents and businesses in Surrey.  It will be held at the Compass Point Inn at 9850 King George Boulevard, Thursday November 10th  from 7:00pm to 9:00 pm.  

A time to mourn. What will become of independent journalism?

Entrenched as I have been in municipal campaign matters, I have had little time to do much more than absorb the shock of Sean Holman shutting down Public Eye Online and keep on going. But today, with a brief moment to sit and have a coffee, I really took some time to mourn. Frankly, if Sean can’t make it work independently, independents and bloggers like myself are all wondering the same thing: What will become of us ? If Sean couldn’t make it sustainable, will we all succumb to the same fate?

One thing I know,for all the tearful, shocked emotions some felt at the news, there were likely just as many smiling faces among those whose Sean’s work targeted. Frankly, that worries me, because Sean is one in a million. His site unarguably stands as a record to some of the best investigative work ever done, and done on his terms alone. I read in the Tyee that he alone, was responsible for 25% of all government FOI requests. That’s a lot of truth that might never see the light of day now.

It’s never easy being independent, forging your own path, making your own trails where none exist, but it is a rewarding one. I mourn the loss of Public Eye Online, I mourn what it reflects in readers understanding of what exactly working independently means. It costs money to write independently, even on my own site –  to do freedom of information requests, research, company searches, travel … even bus tickets all add up, and that doesn’t even include making a profit so you are self-sustaining. Advertisements are often a double-edged sword, since even that is often construed as being influenced. What alternatives do we have, I ask you?

In the age where Press and Politics  meet in an ever blurring line, Sean Holman was a breath of fresh air. And I will miss that dearly. A tip of the hat to you Sean, for everything you gave the people of B.C.  I look forward to whatever ventures, and adventures, life brings you.

Get your vote out early Surrey, on the following advanced voting dates!

Many people will be voting in this years municipal election in Surrey than ever before, so why not take advantage of those advanced voting dates?  It always surprises me how many people are still unaware that there are several dates you can vote, in advance of the November 19th date. In doing so, you can avoid the rush at the polls and be secure that your vote is in, since many people find themselves caught short of time and fail to get that all important vote done. With so many dates in advance of the main polling, there is simply no excuse not to vote this year.

Here are your advanced polling dates and location in Surrey, please mark them on your calendar  and vote Ross Buchanan for a safer, better Surrey!

Saturday, November 5

Fleetwood Recreation Centre : 15996 – 84 Avenue
Elgin Community Hall : 14250 Crescent Road

Time: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm

Monday, November 7

Surrey City Hall : 14245 – 56 Avenue
Time: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Simon Fraser University – Central City Campus
Public Mezzanine: 13450 – 102 Avenue
Time: 10:00 am to 4:00 pm

Tuesday, November 8

Surrey City Hall : 14245 – 56 Avenue
Time: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Wednesday, November 9

Surrey City Hall  : 14245 – 56 Avenue
Time: 8:30 am to 4:30 pm

Cloverdale Recreation Centre : 6188 – 176 Street
Bear Creek Pavilion, Bear Creek Park : 13750 – 88 Avenue
Fleetwood Recreation Centre : 15996 – 84 Avenue
Elgin Community Hall : 14250  Crescent Road

Time: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm

Saturday, November 12

Cloverdale Recreation Centre : 6188 – 176 Street
Bear Creek Pavilion, Bear Creek Park : 13750 – 88 Avenue

Time: 8:00 am to 8:00 pm

Ross ended the week with a great appearance on the Simi Sara show – click on the audio vault: ( http://www.cknw.com/other/audiovault.html )  then select Friday November 4th, 2011, select 2:00pm, and his interview starts at about the 18 minute mark.

From the Surrey Leader: http://www.bclocalnews.com/news/132965113.html

“A South Surrey resident running for mayor in the Nov. 19 civic election is calling for a halt to any construction on the new city hall. But incumbent Dianne Watts says Ross Buchanan’s appeal – along with claims the project will cost at least $97 million and up to $200 million – is “totally unrealistic.”

 “That’s not going to happen,” Watts said. “This is a whole complex plan of moving the city forward. I understand that he needs an election issue – I get that – but this has been in the works for a very long time.“There’s a big hole in the ground and contracts have been let, and so we’re not going to put all those people out of work, start cancelling contracts and leave a big hole in the city centre.”Schematics for the 180,000-square-foot facility were unveiled in June 2010. A site on the south side of 104 Avenue, east of University Boulevard, has been excavated, and construction is expected complete by the fall of 2013.

 Buchanan, describing the project as a “boondoggle,” cited cost as a key reason why the work should not proceed.  In addition to the cost factor, Buchanan – one of seven mayoral candidates – said the timing is bad for this scope of a project.

“This is a huge debt that we’re taking on,” Buchanan said. “My question is… is this the right project and if it is, is now the right time?”

From the Vancouver Sun: ( photo here: http://www.vancouversun.com/story.html?id=5663185 )

“In Surrey, independent mayoral candidate Ross Buchanan predicts Watts’ decision to approve the gas tax increase, as well as allowing former U.S. president George Bush to speak in the city and to build a new City Hall, will work against her, noting many voters feel “disrespected by City Hall,” which he said is pandering to big corporate investors.

“There needs to be an open and welcoming culture at City Hall,” he said. “We’ve lost sight of what matters, which is families. They’re spending our future here.”

But Watts argues the City Centre development is key to developing Surrey’s economy, while the old city hall can be leased out to help pay for it. The changes in Surrey, she said, will accommodate a growing seniors’ population as well as provide jobs for young people.

“We’re accountable to the people and residents of Surrey. This is the time they look at our body of work and the policy we’ve developed over a number of years,” Watts said. “It’s either they like what we’re doing or they want to go in a different direction.”

From the Asian Journal:


 Mayoral candidate Ross Buchanan says that he has seen nothing like current mayor Dianne Watts political party, and thinks it’s yet another indicator of the lack of democracy that seems to have taken over city hall.
“Dianne Watts created the Surrey First Electors Society and claims that is a non-partisan organization. However, there doesn’t seem to be any voting, no members, and not just anyone can join, they have to be asked and approved to join. Candidates running under that name don’t  report their campaign contributions individually – they are reported as a lump sum. It is impossible in this manner to determine who donated what to whom and that is not transparent, accountable or democratic. It’s just Mayor Watts and the people she agrees with who run this city.”
Buchanan says that because Surrey First controls nearly the entire council, it leaves little room for debate, discourse and objectivity when it comes to ensuring taxpayers are being represented fairly.
He points out: “The lone council member who is not a part of Surrey First, is overwhelmingly outvoted at nearly every juncture. There is no room for debate, there is no interest in making sure all alternatives are considered, and this year they have asked a new member to join and run, to try and eliminate the last remaining councilor this city has that isn’t part of Watts party.  If that happens, the city of Surrey will be completely controlled by Watts.
“This is not what I call democracy, and it certainly eliminates much of the need for accountability. She will be able to push any project or vision through without any objections at all if this happens.  I’m not convinced the secretive Surrey First Electors Society is actually putting Surrey first.”

Watts circle talks around key election issues.

Kelly Sinoski recently sat down to chat with Ms. Watts about the million dollar boondoggle new city hall that opponent Ross Buchanan has called for an immediate halt, reveal and review on, in light of the city taking on $100 million dollars in debt over 30 years to pay for it, by way of passing a bylaw with no public consultation to do so.

It is quite interesting that when Kelly asks Ms. Watts how the city is paying for the city hall in particular, Watts dodges the question by talking about the potential lease income for the old city hall and other revenue streams that are already part of the budget.

She does not just admit the city is taking on $100 million in debt to pay for this, with interest over thirty years, nor does she address the lack of any public consultation.

Watts also sidesteps with considerable skill, the talk of an incinerator in Surrey, of which a representative from Aquilini Renewable Energy already confirmed to the Leader was under consideration for a property in Campbell heights that they held an option  on, for some time. That option recently expired, but Watts has now taken the stance that it was not an incinerator that was talked about with Aquilini, but a Waste to Energy facility… a fancy term for an incinerator, among other items. All in contradiction to not just one council members statements,but several, and in contradiction to metro Vancouver spokesperson Bill Morrell who clearly stated that Surrey had expressed an interest in hosting an incinerator.


You can scroll down a bit to read the full story on this boondoggle that reminds me far too much of Vancouvers Owelympic village for my liking. Let’s hope Surrey taxpayers aren’t left holding the bag for this price tag,since all this development is still just plopped down in the middle of Whalley, adjacent to the Surrey Central skytrain station which is still a sketchy place to travel through, despite years of trying to make it anything else.