We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men. ~ Herman Melville

68th avenue blocked off to traffic as police investigate reports of shots fired near the scene of Friday nights shootout
A major Surrey avenue blocked to traffic follow a past,non-fatal shooting in Newton

A wise man once said that as soon as you see a mistake and don’t fix it, it becomes your mistake.

Surrey city mayor and councillors would do well to hold this proverb close to their hearts.

Never could that be more true than when looking at the ongoing state of affairs in the community of Newton.

Surrey RCMP asked the public for help yesterday( March 18th, 2014), after a brazen, horrific beating and theft against a 72 year old senior in Newton Athletic park took place….last Thursday, ( March 13th, 2013)

This latest announcement, is both a joke and an insult to the people of Newton, and to both the city of Surrey’s and Surrey RCMP commitment to improving the situation in the community. A wait of 5 days between the horrific incident and the time the RCMP advised the public,is unacceptable. Families use that park. Kids use that park. Knowledge is not only power, it’s crucial to safe communities.

As the old proverb states: ‘Better a thousand times careful than once dead.’

I’ve heard the shots of rifles and shotguns, seen prostitutes beaten while everyone turned their face and taken the brunt of those past posts personally.

At the first public meeting in January, it was identified by residents  that  increased communication between the RCMP and the community was essential.. yet at a later, February council meeting, Mayor Watts stated that in order to free up RCMP resources, she would be reducing the amount of RCMP officers attending community meetings, events and crime reduction meetings.

Ironically at the followup February meeting hosted by the Newton Community Association but quickly overtaken by the city of Surrey- it was Bill Fordy himself that stated neither the mayor or city staff had any ability to direct or deploy RCMP resources.

One thing is clear. With the announcement that the Harper Conservatives were getting rid of the Community Safety officer Program, the city is left holding the bag for how to deal with that loss. Their solution seems to be to look to hiring security guards to fill those  positions  as reported by several media outlets, as their own pseudo-police force.

Give me a break. The last thing Surrey needs is more security guards. I might not be popular for saying it, but we need more RCMP, and right now. Why? Because as fast as the city approves them, townhouses, new developments and mega homes are going up all over south Newton, which includes the Sullivan Heights and Panorama Ridge area.

It’s insanity in action  – we won’t even talk about the new Grandview, ‘Area 4’ new development out in the middle of rural south Surrey, currently unserved by sewer,water or transit! We are building out areas with intense densification that have no business being built out until the rest of Surrey is appropriately taken care of.

That means ensuring  municipal development and population increase is on par with the provincial timelines for schools, healthcare provisions and other services that are vital to the livelihood of every community. You can’t cut down all the trees to make a park,plant small trees that offer no shade as replacement and put a tiny playground in and call that servicing a family driven neighbourhood! Nor can you build out 3500 townhouses knowing full well the schools in the area are already overloaded and no new school is planned.

Those decisions are fully and completely under city jurisdiction. And why they are knowingly outpacing a provincial and federal  government that has been claiming austerity for some time, is a question every Surrey resident should be asking. When someone invests in buying a home in this city, it is in essence, an unofficial contract between them and the city. And when the city fails to provide essentials like sidewalks, usable parks and a sense of safety, everyone suffers.

Safety is a cornerstone to a successful community, as is access to education, recreation and healthcare. Sadly in Surrey, many communities have been overdeveloped to the point that they are now revolting, hence the ongoing creation of many community associations. In Newton, the commitment from the city to move forward has produced cosmetic changes, as shown by the planting of new trees along King George Blvd south of 72nd ave, but not much else.

We still have an influx of residents both at the poverty line and above. We still have a growing population that is outpaced by the number of RCMP on staff. We still have  an RCMP force that cannot keep up with the willingly promoted growth of Surrey!

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to tell you something has to give. At what point do we look back to the city that is pointing to the province, and the feds, and say:  “Hey, you approved all this development! Hey, you know how long it takes the province to approve a school! Hey, you know we need to put the brakes on for a bit to play catch up!”

I don’t think I am alone in saying I am appalled at this latest assault in Newton. Not because I expect crime to suddenly disappear in this area, but because I, like many Newton residents, expected more from the city and the RCMP in terms of policing following the early meetings in January and February.  Prostitutes still hold reign around the Newton Gaming Centre. Crimes are still occurring in central Newton.

I am happy to report seeing the RCMP bike team in action on a crime in progress, but its not enough. With over 1000 new residents coming to Surrey each month, we must keep Surrey RCMP levels at par with the population. Particularly because we as a city, as a community, owe that to the residents who make Surrey their home.

This isn’t about who can get the most press, and this isn’t about a political agenda. I have no interest in running a campaign, or running for council, despite what some with vested interests have been saying to negate the stark truth that exists for all with access to Google. To pull a Bertuzzi, it is, what it is.

I haven’t just taken my children to preschool in Newton, I shop there, I support businesses there, and unlike many, I pay attention to the people that have been there for years on the streets. Have you met Eric? Did you walk by and turn your cheek like many do to avoid this very real part of your community?

We can’t just continue the way we have in Surrey. It isn’t working. In fact, it’s failing. Since I moved to Surrey, I have been an advocate of a cohesive effort to move all town centres forward in a synchronized effort that doesn’t leave one area behind others. It just makes sense. The cities method to move one area forward at the degradation of another, doesn’t work.

To build a community, you can’t avoid conflict, you need to address it, and welcome, head on, the conflicts that come with it, whether you are neighbours, politicians, police or social service agencies.

Those who do not feel safe, are evidence of your failings. You want to be real? Then join those less privileged on a day in their life.

Making decisions from an office in the sky, protected from those who you are deemed to serve,  is nothing like making decisions based on experience in the streets. This is what separates the good leaders, from the great.

And this difference, is what has defined Newton, more than anything else.


7 thoughts on “We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men. ~ Herman Melville

  1. It’s not just Surrey, Vancouver has a serious case of exactly what you describe.

    I live in Marpole and in addition to the towers being built at the Marine Drive Skytrain station, there are several towers now going in at the old Safeway site on Granville and 70th. Yet our library and community center are old and outdated, yet there are no plans for any new ones or upgrades planned. And did I mention this part of town has the least amount of parkland per capita in the city?

    Then I look up the street and see the massive Metrotown-like expansion planned for the Oakridge site. That is going to put massive stress and strain on all the public facilities around here, including police, transit, public amenities, parks, hospitals, etc. When pigeonholed on this, Mayor Moonbeam and his cohorts say “That’s for someone else to provide.” I see massive problems ahead.

    A friend of mine suggested that cities who promote endless development should have to put some skin in the game. Buy this he meant they had to put up all, or at least a good fraction, of the capital costs for public amenities they currently don’t pay for like schools, hospitals, transit and the like. His reasoning is that if they had to cover these costs that are now picked up partially or completely by other levels of government, then they might really start to consider if unchecked development is really a good thing.


  2. Perfectly stated, Laila. Surrey has been out of control re: development for some time, but never more so than under Her HIghness Watts, who has been a master of PR for herself, but her sole focus on re-developing Whalley, (oops, Surrey Centre), has blinded her to what’s happening everywhere else in Surrey. Police, roads, schools and hospitals have all had to play catch up with the incessant growth.

    Ironically, Doug McCallum was tossed out because he was seen as too pro development, yet Watts came along and turned out to be the developers’ dream. The Vancouver media see Watts as Miss Perfect, but most of them don’t live in Surrey and see the day-to-day deterioration and increase in crimes of all types. Minor crimes are so ubiquitous many go unreported.


    1. It seems to me that the RCMP and all other police forces are called upon after the crime has taken place. A pro-active system needs to be developed.
      My opinion is that there are crimes of different magnitude. If someone steals your car, it is a problem. If someone physically assaults or murders someone, it is a totally different ballgame.
      What can we do to deter serious crime? We need to have speedy trials and long sentences for serious crimes. We need to bring in restitution so that the criminals have to pay back, lets say 7 times the cost of a property crime. Habitual criminals need to be removed from society for a long long time. These sentences and deterrents need to be widely publicized so that criminals will thing twice before engaging in crime.
      We need boots on the ground all the time. We need foot patrols or electric bike patrols in high crime areas. We need a constant police presence in the community. This would be a strong deterent. Even fit well trained well paid security guards with some pepper spray, night sticks with immediate access to police help would be beneficial.
      We need to police to get serious about crime investigation instead of telling citizens that their situation is a civil matter and they can’t do anything about it. All crimes against persons and property, no matter how small, need to dealt with.
      We need courts that are willing to punish criminals. We need more than a legal system, we need a justice system. Jails cost money. Turn them into work houses where the inmates generate enough economic activity to sustain the costs of the jails.
      We need to get the police into the schools to talk about the law and about crime. Youth offenders can cause a lot of damage and often engage in physical attacks with impunity. There should be a severe penalty for any physical assaults, even for teenage offenders.
      Many people do not realize it but some of their children are not only fearful but in grave danger on a continuing basis at the schools they attend. The reason that they put up with it as best they can is that they have good reason to believe that there is simply nothing that the system will do to protect them. Criminals get their start at a young age and need to be dealt with.
      A very small percentage of the populace is involved in criminal activity. The 99 % of us law abiding citizens need to send a message that we are as mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore.


  3. In my opinion, it’s time for change in Surrey. I believe the building is totally out of control and infrastructure etc. has not kept up. We don’t need more “town centers” until the ones we have are looked after. No more forests coming down all over. The schools are overcrowded, hospital overcrowded, streets falling apart, bylaws not being enforced (illegal suites). We all know where they are, it’s time the city got it together and made everyone pay their fair share. ALR land being used for parking lots for semis. Forget more new strip malls, fill up the ones that are there already with the for lease signs on them. Clean up those areas, not make new ones. Revitalize what’s in place. No more mega housing developments with lack of parking and other facilities. And especially lack of transit. Lack of policing. There’s enough areas lacking already. If you continue to think this is good for this city, Increase the fees for these developments so that all infrastructure costs are included (schools, streets, sewers, etc.) in those fees.
    Have to agree with the one commenter, we thought McCallum was/is pro-development, but Dianne has certainly passed him on that. And I don’t believe we needed the new city hall, that area was revitalizing on it’s own with the library and all the condos built around the skytrain. No, I think it is time for change at city hall. Someone with a vision for the citizens, not for real estate developers.


  4. Good comments and observations all.

    The direction and tone of any City is established by its civic leaders.

    In Surrey they are the Surrey FIRST electors group under Ms. Watts. FIRST was invented to cull together a group of disgruntled Councilors lead by deposed Mayor McCallum and his Surrey Electors Team(SET).

    What happened next was the re-invention of SET with all its existing members in tact. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.
    In the run up to 2014 elections, FIRST should be celebrating its accomplishments and boasting its vision for the future.
    The reality is that FIRST is deeply mired in controversy and all it self inflicted.

    The new “direction and tone” for Surrey was never achieved. In fact the” issues” under SET dating back to pre 2005 remain.
    FIRST has continued the tradition of rampant development cleverly disguised as the Surrey City Development Corp. (SCDC) The development sector has thrived under a regime that is systematically stacked against any public or community opposition.

    It is amusing to recall then Mayor McCallum attempting to cling to power promising a new hospital, new schools and the highest ever buildings to be built in Surrey. I remember penning a letter to the editor commenting on his desperation suggesting he add “a cure for cancer” to his list of promises. A bad joke perhaps for those who fight this insipid illness.

    Crime, addiction and homelessness remain today just as before, but with a huge difference.
    Today, all areas including South Surrey are dealing with an influx never before experienced. What has almost always been a Walley/Newton concern is now wide spread and common throughout our City.

    SET Mayor McCallum’ heavy hand directed then Councilor Watts to “sanitize” the bad news coming out of Surrey. In effect telling Watts to tell the RCMP what they could and could not say or report on.
    Watts correctly refused accusing McCallum of being bully among other things. Watts handily went on to become Mayor.

    Today, little has changed and is in fact worse. The existing Police Committee stopped keeping minutes and disappeared from public over site. Rookie Counselor Rasode was held out to be responsible despite her adoption of Surrey FIRST, its methods and direction from the Mayor. Mayor Watts announced with dispatch that she would be in charge and Rasode was out.

    Imagine, getting fired for doing what you were told to do?

    What is most disturbing are ” long time sitting Councilors” who remain “mute”, in lock step with the missives of Mayor Watts. Sadly, history will record their character flaws and deny them credit for the many good contributions made.

    It is true that when you find a trickle, a river runs not far away. The issues are many and the methods sadly, are the same as before.

    Rebranding Surrey from the City of Parks to the “Future Lives Here” is but a chilling reminder of how little has changed.

    Let’s hope there is a champion in their midst who will “walk the talk” and bring Surrey back from the edge.


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