And so it begins.

It was of no surprise to anyone in Surrey yesterday that Barinder Rasode finally announced that she is running for mayor. After months of meeting with residents from every community in the city, she had already been acknowledged as a contender and had already been targeted by her opponents Doug McCallum and Linda Hepner.

But what was a surprise was how fast Surrey First released this attack following her announcement.

I’ll be quite frank- and in no defense of Rasode, but simply to remark what I and others have witnessed – I was surprised that it took Rasode as long as it did to leave Surrey First. If you have attended city council meetings or watched them online, the writing was on the wall for quite some time that things were not ok. Attempts to ask questions shut down, over looked or outright ignored. Snippy behavior.

I’ve been very critical of Surrey First over the years and here we are, in yet another election, with all the same issues from the last one still not addressed. A good example is the pay parking in Newton. It was an issue for businesses along 137 st. brought forward by Rina Gill in the last election. It was ignored. The city said no way, not removing them. Years later, with never-ending vacant storefronts and good small business owners still struggling, the strong advocacy of Newton residents finally resulted in the city agreeing to remove them…. but it took three years and another election to get it done.

Surrey First council is the reason why we have such a mess right on King George Boulevard at the site of the Newton Bingo Hall – and Newton will never forget that. The city plowed those slots through, ignoring residents opposition for years... until earlier this year when seeing an election on a horizon ( and being in the spotlight for their failures in Newton following Julie Paskalls tragic murder) they finally asked BCLC to remove them.  And Hepner? Hepner was the cheerleader for those slots back when they first were approved and the approval was in opposition to the cities own gaming policy.

Newton was happy the slots were gone, but now we have a boarded up,half vacant mess that’s a huge eyesore right on the main road through Surrey. What does the city plan to do about it?

Surrey First current council also had to be reminded by a resident in a letter to the editor recently, that they do oppose their own policies and procedures, which often results in build-outs in areas not served by any form of transit and infrastructure to support  new residents:

And Hepner? Hepner is too busy to talk crime. She was too busy earlier this year when approached by CTV, she was too busy tweeting about meeting with the Whitecaps the day Surrey RCMP and IHIT released the horrific news of Serena Vermeersch’s murder. At least she’s naively honest about her priorities, as sad as it is.

Which leads me to McCallum.

McCallum has had some great ideas and his social media handlers have run a somewhat irritating strategy of agreeing with everything I tweet and retweeting it. They know crime and safety has been a big issue for me for years and that it makes it hard to argue with him. However, it’s fact that many of the issues Surrey is dealing with now – illegal suites, excessive,unchecked development and policing issues-began under his tenure.

McCallum’s history with others when he was last mayor, was anything but smooth. He was viewed as aggressive and domineering by soon to be former mayor Dianne Watts. And allegations that he tried to keep the RCMP from releasing bad news in the city follow him still.

This brings us firmly back to newly declared mayoral candidate Barinder Rasode, who McCallum has been thumping for holding closed police committee meetings during her time as chair – and rightly so. I fought to have those meetings opened where applicable, and for minutes to be posted promptly after I discovered many were missing. And it’s worthy to note that while the city provided minutes for most meetings to me, to this day,not all past minutes have been posted.

Following the death of Julie Paskall, Rasode spoke out publicly in acknowledging the city had failed Newton residents. She quickly was removed from the police committee and shortly thereafter issued this letter telling why she was leaving Surrey First to sit independently.

Rasode does have some hurdles in her campaign. Unhappy residents  have already mentioned on social media her record of vote on developments or projects in their neighbourhood. Many say she has been just as much a part of the problem of why we are, where we are. I don’t know where my vote will go, but it is fair to say Rasode has been very involved in many community associations and assisting residents when they ask for help in some of the most vulnerable areas of Surrey- something most other councillors have not done. And the voting record will show that on many issues, Rasode, Hunt and Villaneuve have voted with conviction and conscience,and have been outvoted.

Those who know me and the amount of time I’ve spent covering Surrey issues in this blog, know that I’ve seen a lot of things that can turn a stomach quickly. I used to joke that living in Newton gave me PTSD but it’s not really a joke for the people who still live in the heart of Newton.

It’s frustrating to see the good in Surrey continually overshadowed by the reality that crime is still a huge issue in this city, no matter where you live.A South Surrey Grandview area resident recently freaked out when he saw the crime stats for that district showed robberies were up 190%. While more cops wont fix it all, it remains a fact that we don’t have enough on the street to compensate for the population, or the massive geographic area of the city itself.

You get the idea. Hepner is right in her release that voters will have to decide if we are better off now than we were 9 years ago. But she fails to realize that voters will also look to who the candidate is that demonstrates an understanding of all the unique issues in every neighbourhood and which candidate is willing to acknowledge our weaknesses, not just the cities strengths.

What is needed desperately, is a cohesive plan that makes small moves forward in every town centre, instead of focusing on one, leaving the others to fester. We need to take care of what we already have,before we start building more visions and fantasies.

Because quite frankly,some of us are looking for a little more than ferris wheels and soccer teams. 


16 Comments on “And so it begins.

  1. Conventional wisdom has it that if a spouse gets beaten one Friday night, the other spouse should be arrested. If the same spouse gets beaten a second time, the other spouse should get arrested again but the now-repeat-victim needs immediate counselling. If the recipe repeats any more, forget the beater altogether and pull the victim into long term therapy. In other words; “What the hell are you doing by staying in a place that is clearly NOT healthy?”
    So, LY, maybe Surrey is a lost cause? Maybe the sane thing to do is move? Maybe this is simply a dysfunctional place to be? I grew up on the bad side of way too many tracks all around the west coast of N. America and when it came time to move out on my own, I left the ugly side as far behind as I could. And I have not regretted it one bit. Those places will consume you – one way or another. My wife says when turning on the news, “I wonder how many people got murdered, shot at or tasered in Surrey today?” Seriously.

    • I, personally was born and raised in Surrey, and still reside here and don’t believe it’s a lost cause. It takes the work of the officials and the community to clean things up. Things where never this way when I was a youngster, as it was a rare thing indeed to see anything…so much as a traffic accident which was big news back then, where in my opinion it’s those that have come from other areas that seem to be bringing the issues to the forefront. Life generally has changed though, as we are seeing bad parenting skills, the influx of drugs (both, parents and older kids now) which for the most part where rare back in my day as well! The situation is unique compared to life ‘in the old days’ where there was little crime, but we also have to try (somehow) to get back to respect for one another. I see time and time again youngsters (and some adults) that believe they are ‘entitled’ to live any way they wish, and no one can absolved them of their ‘rights’. Thus, there is a huge lack of disrespect to basically everyone, compared to when I was a youngster. Etiquette is meaningless these days…holding a door for a female, getting up and letting a senior take your seat on a bus or sky train, opening a car door for a female passenger etc. seem to have gone by the way side, more so with youth, but overall the things that where instilled in me by my parents, now are a rare option. True, there are many more stresses on parents, with both having to work to put food on the table and a roof over their heads, but it’s also their responsibility to bring up children instilled with manners and the ability to use their morals. Surrey can become what it once was, but I’m not seeing that direction through any of our current candidates for mayor or council.

  2. Thanks Laila…you’ve done your homework, essentially giving me the opportunity to realize none of the candidates are truly the answer! Overall, I found Diane Watts to be a good mayor, although the few issues that angered me from time to time where minimal. The issue on the ‘huge homes’ allowed to replace smaller ones will continue to be an issue, as we have one in our area now, and it looks SO out of place! On vacant farm land it’s understandable, but tearing down completely good homes, (which to be is very unfriendly environmentally) and putting what looks like a Hotel between two normal sized home is just SO wrong, yet the current council realizes that it might affect their vote, so they allow it to continue. Add to that…the secondary suite issues here in Surrey…and the ‘Surrey First’ truly wasn’t the way I’d like to see Surrey going. Crime…yes, that needs to be prioritized, as it’s gotten to the ridiculous point. Personally, it’s a Federal issue though, as the deterrents are just not nearly enough for the crime in my personal opinion, and even those that are incarcerated are coddled to a ridiculous amount. There again, I’ve never understood the ‘rehabilitation’ of prisoners, when in fact they truly don’t have to put much in the way of energy into a project of rehab, and outright say no to doing so as well. They’ve lost the majority of their rights (in my opinion) when they created the crime or victimization of others!
    So, I personally don’t believe ANY of the current Surrey contenders are worthy of a Surrey vote (other than Laila, and we don’t have that option) so I’m at a loss at the moment, as I’m sure many other Surrey voters are!

  3. Dear Laila, I’m deeply sorry that I have not seen you in so long. I love everything you write. I am running for council but have no money (teachers’ strike took care of that!) or team, but I have enough name recognition to not get blown out or embarrassed, and I have enough moxie to stand up and tell the truth about all these Surrey First and SET types – they are self-serving, ambitious people who spew platitudes but ignore ordinary people and ordinary neighbourhood aspirations and ordinary human concerns – whether safety, or inadequate housing, or indiscriminate growth, or environmental ruin. They play to polls, now crime or transportation or coal stations, but what the heck did they do in office all these years? None ever was prepared to meet with me or answer any of my pleas for by-law enforcement or tree protection or safety. Politics shouldn’t just be about how great Dianne or these others think they are, or we think they are, but caring about the best interests of the community, not how to stay in office and on the gravy train. Please see the attachment, if you want to see me of my views. Keep up the great work, Jim

  4. I don’t trust Barinder Rasode. At Metro she voted in favour of the development on the Southlands, Tsawwassen, land that was zoned and designated as agriculture.

  5. You may not trust Barinder Rasode, but would you be better off with any of the other declared candidates? That is the question.

    If she voted for “development…..”, she wasn’t alone and her vote may not have mattered one way or the other. Sometimes politicians vote in a specific manner, so they can put some qualifiers on an issue, because its going to happen anyhow.

    its fine if you can get up and move, but so much of Surrey needs changes and more policing, the rest of the lower mainland could not absorb all of those “wanting” to leave Surrey. People move to Surrey because the cost of housing is lower than other areas.

    What Surrey needs is more police. It is sadly under staffed, when compared to other large cities. The citizens of Surrey need to ask themselves: Am I willing to continue having this type of crime in my community or am I willing to pay more taxes to have a safer community? Unfortunately many will not be willing to pay more taxes for more police. They think it won’t happen to “them”. Most people don’t think it will happen to “them”, until it does, then its too late.

    Now that Watts has signed on with the Federal Conservatives, we can expect her to bring her attitude of “no adequate policing necessary” to the national level. This won’t bode well for First Nation women. Although the federal Conservatives are great at blathering on about the need to “fight” crime, it doesn’t translate to doing anything proactive. its just a lets thrown them in away/in jail attitude.

  6. Why would anyone want to live in that God forsaken city? It’s has nothing going for it. Just a place for people like Diane Watts to get their start on the Govt. gravy train. I think JDC put it succinctly when he said it’s time to move on… theirs so much more to experience in this world other then the mayhem that persists in Surrey.

    • Thanks, JL. I’ll take that as permission to rant a bit more: If the UN gang, the Red Scorpions and the Hell’s Angels ran for office, would you vote for them and then wonder why things didn’t change? Of course not. But the parties running in Surrey are just ‘affiliates’ of the larger gangs in larger governments. They are all in cahoots and all are corrupt. Sad, but true (see 100 reasons by LY). BUT they are still NOT the cause of the problems. They are the just the inevitable symptoms. WE are the problem We vote for these nasties. So the next group gets nastier. “It’s what the public wants!” Or so it seems. Laila, you should run. Find a half dozen good people in Surrey and declare yourselves the ‘Good Guys’ party and give it a run. If you lose, at least you would have done something real. And you’ll feel better when you move out.

  7. My concern about Barinder Rasode is why is Christy Clark’s ex Mark Marrissen her campaign manager? If he’s in control, I would never vote for her. I have also heard that Moe Sihota is also a campaign manager. Is this correct or not? If so, why are two diametrically opposed politicians supporting her?

  8. Sure hope someone else puts their name forward. At this point, not one of the candidates is worthy and it’ll be the same old same old. There needs to be others going for every position on council. Independents are a start. Rasode as an independent? I don’t think so. You know how the talk is before an election and what happens after. We’ve been experiencing that for the past roughly 12 years provincially and municipally and it’s not a pretty sight financially or independently for most individuals nor families. McCallum? Same old. Hepner? lol

  9. I’m probably in the minority, but I do not respond favourably to attack ads. The Conservatives do it federally, Liberals do it provincially and Surrey First does in municipally. If that’s the best you can offer you’ve permanently lost my vote.

    Rasode having Marissen skulking in the corners tells me plenty.

    That leaves McCallum. Pretty dismal when an elderly, retread ex-mayor seems to have better ideas than the rest. He was booted because he was seen as pro-development, then Watts got in and she made McCallum look like a conservationist.

  10. Thanks for pointing out what has taken 30 yrs. in Surrey for me to realize. After years of living in Whalley (North Surrey or New Watts county), the “Monster” built next door and apathy of the Building Dept. towards the 1000 sq. ft. added has My family leaving this city knowing that the South Asian vote will elect the next council and Mayor. Cheat and steal is the montra for Surrey’s politicians guided by the immoral builders who should have another 30% of the greenery gone from back yards before this term is up. Perhaps a Green Peace party. When Rats over populate an area they resort to killing each other, does this fit Surrey with it’s unchecked increasing High Density mixed with true single family homes. Good luck to any-one left in Surrey as most of my friends have already moved from this city of no direction. God help the federal Gov. if Diane Watts is elected.

  11. I’m glad Dianne Watts is leaving office. She has done nothing for Surrey but push criminal activity and drugs from one neighborhood to another. As far as I’m concerned, Newton is finished. Whalley is still unsafe and I highly doubt that the “new city hall” will change things for the better. You put lipstick on a pig, it is still a pig.