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Houston, we have a problem: hardly anyone votes in Surrey

I tweeted out some stark reminders of Surrey’s last election today:

Population of Surrey: approx. 472,000, estimated to grow by about a 1000 every month

Number of registered voters : 279,051 as per the last election in 2011

Number of ballots cast: 70,253

Number of years all residents had to live with the future dictated by such a small number of Surrey residents?  3

Source:–%20Elections%20BC%20–2011.pdf ( includes data for all cities etc in BC)

shockedface“ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”

It’s pretty sad that with nearly a half a million people, it all comes down to a measly 70 thousand who are calling the shots. Seriously? With all this call for change and recognition of issues that have never been adequately resolved, is this the best we can do? That’s like standing in crowded room full of people… and only the single person over in the corner voted.

There are several options for mayor again this year and many very serious new contenders for council. There simply is no acceptable excuse for not voting. None.

Your vote really does matter. It helps determine not just the economic direction of the city,but also the quality of life for all those who live here – for many people, this is the most important factor in our day to day lives. Can we live safely here? Can we commute by transit? Will our small businesses thrive here?

Ask questions, take a few minutes to see what the candidates are all about, and their records in the community. One of our local Newton residents has issued a #newtonvotes challenge to Newton residents to talk to and remind 10 other friends and neighbours to register and vote! Great idea- imagine if each of us take this challenge on all across Surrey?

This year, make your voice count where you hold the most power. Please register to vote in this years election, and take part in determining the future of the where this city goes in the next 4 years.

It’s really easy to register – here is how you do it:


More information can be found at the following link:

Make your voice matter regardless of where you live.  Surrey is not the only city suffering from voter malaise and it’s time to cure that. Here is everything you need to know across BC, on how to register and vote in your municipality!!  

Vote in this years election. Make it count.


  1. my god a good community organizer in Newton and Walley could swing this election to benefit those two areas. So could a group of developers. It might behove some organizers to get out there and do a registration drive, a la some of the American voter registration drives.

    People need to get out there and register and then get out there and vote. Civic elections are very important because they have the most immediate impact on our daily lives. How many police officers are in a community has more to do with what a civic council wants than someone in Ottawa or Victoria. Where the new community centre is going to be built has more to do with who is elected locally than further away. the same goes for roads, water, parks, et.c.

    We can only hope those most impacted by the “politics” of the last decade, get out and register and vote. You can have an impact on civic politics, one vote at a time.


  2. If this voter turnout is correct, in a true democracy the election would be declared null and void and another election held with a whole new slate of candidates. The people have spoken with their feet as there is no “none of the above” on the ballet. Voting holding your nose only condones the system that apparently the majority in Surrey find reprehensible.


  3. Check out the link for yourself. Horrific turnouts all over the province. Nasty. There is a big disconnect between people understanding how much of an impact their vote has on a local level!! It’s the easiest vote to make, and has such a direct impact.


  4. Thank you for this Laila.
    Too often, too many, spend too much time accepting the way it is when they should be demanding better.
    Better for themselves, their families, their friends and even strangers.
    It is a pretty simple axiom, you get back what you give of yourself.
    Be informed, be honest, be bold.
    This election is important for everyone who calls Surrey home.
    Do yourself proud. Take a friend and vote.
    Only you need to know.


    • I think I need to invest in a ‘Favourite’ button. Great comment 🙂

      At Remembrance Day celebrations, we tend to offer silent thanks to those who fought for freedoms all over the world. We forget one of those freedoms is the simple act of voting.

      In many countries today, in this modern world, it doesnt happen.

      Or it does, and is controlled and bought or engineered to the desired result- a false democracy with only a shadow of the meaning left.

      Honour everyone, who still today, fight and sometimes die for the right to choose who will govern them. Vote.


  5. People certainly care, but they don’t feel empowered as individuals. They just realize that nothing will really change no matter who you vote for. That no candidate is willing to say “no” consistently. There will still be high property taxes. There will still be a city bureaucracy that really calls the shots. There will be ever more spending…and NO amount of taxing-and-spending will solve the “crime problem”, “create” jobs or make life easier.

    Perhaps this huge city should be divided into ten or a dozen smaller jurisdictions. THEN a vote might actually count a bit…


    • What voter, when confronted with 30 plus names on the ballot for Mayor, Councillor and School board can really have a clue about the suitability for office of that many candidates. It would be a full time job to research this adequately. Cut Surrey in half, North/South or East/West and half the candidate list. Then we might feel slightly more well-represented, and therefore engaged. In the meantime, we might remember who on Council consistently voted in support of neighbourhood survival, not wholesale demolition.


      • Or go the opposite way and amalgamate every district into the GVRD.
        The current system as it stands wastes so much money on the duplication of services its incredible. A regional police force would be good for starters. Then a regional fire dept. We have unelected sloths currently making decisions for our water, sewage and parks so whats the big deal?
        I think municipal voters would pay a tad more attention if they were voting for one ‘surrey” councillor in the greater Vancouver regional elections


        • I should like to be enlightened as to which civic amalgamations actually ever did save money. Meanwhile, citizens of smaller municipalities adjacent to a big one fear that if they’re amalgamated, the supposedly more efficient administration will neglect smaller projects important only to peripheral neighbourhoods that once had an effective say as their own municipalities.

          I recall the Comox Valley amalgamation proposal when Ida Chong was the BC Liberal minister responsible. It’d been fashionable for provincial ministers of municipalities to remind concerned civic voters of ministerial authority to approve any and all amalgamations regardless of referenda results—for the sake of efficiency and out of respect for taxpayers—which was the case in Greater Toronto (where the provincial minister refused to recognize a civic referendum result of 80% opposed to amalgamation), and Greater Montreal where there was similar opposition, likewise to no avail ( opposition was over-riden by Premier Bouchard himself). Minister Chong respected the strong opposition to Tri-City amalgamation (citizens of the City of Courtenay, the larger, regional commercial hub, heartily approved, whereas the adjacent Towns of Cumberland and Comox strongly rejected the proposal)—or, perhaps more accurately, she really respected the electoral riding’s swing volatility. It soon proved to be a good decision for the citizens of the smaller CV Towns: soon after developers, apparently having jumped the gun on the expectation of amalgamation, presented (unrelated) applications in both towns that the citizens of neither approved of and subsequently rejected. Courtenay City Council, which never saw a developer it didn’t fall all over itself to please, would have rammed the applications using its superior weight in an amalgamated council.

          The right of civic citizens to realize the town or city they collectively want should not be sacrificed to notions of “efficiency”—which has never been achieved by amalgamation anyway. Citizens of “Dodge” and Comox were reassured their referendum decisions were the right ones by subsequent arrogant and bitter sour grapes expressed by Courtenay City Council and the developers, sore losers all, shedding maudlin alligator tears over “efficiencies lost”. (The Cumberland developers wanted to be exempted entirely from the Town’s citizen-designed Official Community Plan because it wanted to do what the citizens expressly did not want and what their policy prohibited—in other words, they didn’t give a shit what anybody wanted except themselves. In Comox, developers submitted an application which, they claimed, represented the only economically feasible way of redeveloping the downtown waterfront, as usual demanding an extra storey in variance to existing bylaws, and—incredibly—insisting the Town sign over its civic park, the jewel of the downtown, and public marina in a “swap” for the parking lot they owned behind the recently burned-down Edgewater Pub. “You’ll be sorry!” the developers snarled when flatly rejected for this presumptuous, arrogant application).


        • oh and lets not forget Stan Hagen’s decision to extend the boundaries of Courtenay right through the District and left all sorts of people in a City they didn’t want to be part of. Their property taxes went through the roof and some had to go back to farming just to keep their property taxes low. Yes, developers had all sorts of plans for the Comox Valley. Amalgamated police services already exist, there wouldn’t be much in savings at all. But some of us do suspect amalgatation would have seen Courtenay benefit and Cumberland never having a street paved again.

          As I like to say, the Council of Courtenay never met a developer they couldn’t learn to love. Want to bulldoze all the land and trees, go for it. Neighbours don’t want it, hell they can’t stand in the way of development and it provides jobs too. Amalgamation frequently simply leads to urban/suburban sprawl.

          We should all remember amalgamation is how Toronto got Rob Ford. So the next time some one thinks amalgamation would be a “good thing” try to remember you might get a “rob ford type” for mayor. O.K. Vancouver did get Mayor Moonbeam, but its up to the voters of Vancouver to get rid of him, now think of his “political beliefs” and coming from Surrey and ruling Vancouver.


        • I still think amalgamation has its benefits if the right people are at the helm. Dont brand amalgamation as a failure because of the incompetance or greed of other politicians.

          I fail to see how having 10? 15? seperate city councils with all their little seperate “empires” can be more efficient than one city council , one police dept, one fire dept, etc.etc.etc.

          As for Rob Ford …..
          Please see my comment of Sept 27 6:12am re Rob Ford’s popularity. He was elected by a MAJORITY of the voters e.a.f. or did you miss that part.


  6. Total agreement to Cocoabean’s statement.
    You may vote for your city clowncil but when an opposing provincial party holds the purse strings……….the city’s only options are to raise fees at their municipal level.

    Lets face it, after hearing politicians at all levels make promises they have no intention of keeping and then they screw the voter either legally of illegally. Why bother?
    Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice( or in the case of politicians dozens of times) shame on me.

    Everyone seemed mystified as to why Rob Ford was so popular in Toronto. Did anyone look at his opponents? The same babbling crowd of politically correct pablum servers spewing forth the same drivel year after year….. An admitted crack addict was STILL ahead in the polls! Jayzus!
    My neighbor refuses to vote anymore after she was chosen for jury duty from the voters list and had to sit on a gruesome murder trial………
    Stephen Harper or Justin Trudeau
    Christy Clark or ‘Flavor of the Month”
    Mayors who’s names escape me or wanna be mayors”

    Its no mystery why voting these days is barely worth the effort.

    Lets just hand everything over to an accounting firm and they can balance the books


  7. we don’t need the accounting firm to balance the books Municipal entities don’t get to run deficets, except in exceptional cases and I do believe they have to apply to the provincial government, or they did when the City of Vancouver got stuck with those O. condos.

    Might as well just find a really good Chief administrator to run the town/city, etc. because it seems to me they are calling the shots in most cases anyhow, hello Penny Bellam.


    • “mayor” Penny Ballem, who has caused more long term Vancouver city employees to resign than any other city administrator.
      Penny Ballem who has wrecked the morale of entire depts with her decisions.
      Penny Ballem who has appointed lick spittles to do her bidding
      Perhaps we should change her name to Penny Bedlam.


      • Upp, that’s the one, to be sure and yes I do love that name Bedlam.

        if Robertson would just fire her but its doubtful she will go any time soon. As long as he is mayor we are stuck with “Bedlam” and Meggs. Then of course, compared to what was running Moonbeam seemed like a better alternative. This time lets give Meena Wong a chance. Hey she might get rid of “bedlam”


        • You can be sure that Penny will have her bags packed the day after the election if Robertson gets the boot.
          Unfortunately she will recieve a ridiculous , undeserved severance package( these govt management trolls usually renew their employment contracts for another 2 years just before an election……it should be illegal.).
          And then she’ll waltz off into the limelight with a cool half million in pay and a nifty resume to move on to somewhere else to “reorganize”.

          And the taxpayers get to pay for it all………………..


  8. I saw this evening’s news with the rally in Surrey regarding the recent murders. They were demanding “police action”. What they ought to have been demanding was their own police force, which is more accountable to the citizens of the city. But I’m sure if you asked any of those protesters if they were willing to pay more taxes for either more RCMP or their own police force, the answer would have been a resounding NO. So you get what you pay for. If you don’t pay for police services you suffer the consequences and that consequence can be deadly.

    You can’t keep everybody who is “dangerous” locked up for life. This is still Canada and there is still a Constitution. There are however, effective ways of dealing with some dangerous offenders. the City of Vancouver has done it and so has Abbotsford. The person is released, they assign a detail and the first time the “dangerous” person does something illegal, they get arrested. It works really well, but it does cost money So the choice is do you pay for better policing or do you save a few buck and have people killed.

    The City of Surrey is much larger geographically than Vancouver, has about the same population, but Vancouver has more cops. I stay in Vancouver. Surrey can be dangerous and with so few police officers………..


  9. The average person knows nothing and cares less. They just don’t vote ’cause they don’t wanna. Basically, the voter never shows up. Result: status quo. It always seems to be ‘business as usual’. And the reason? Because (I think) we put money first and so business gets top priority and business does not like change. And make no mistake: M-E-D-I-A is just another business. NO change coming from them! People don’t know enough to vote because there are not enough LY’s in journalism anymore. No more Rafe’s. No Walter Kronkite or Edward R. Murrow. Investigative journalism is dead. Now it is news by wire feed, press release, public relations. Spokepersons. And word control is thought control. Thought control is VOTE control.


  10. Yes, municipal voter turnout is low, which would be shocking if it just happened all of a sudden; however, it’s been been typically low for quite a while, unlike provincial and federal voter turnout which has been dropping steadily for over a decade—not as low as municipal levels (the lowest, that is, the most recent turnouts for sovereign offices are still double that of municipalities)—but nonetheless a significant and relatively sudden phenomenon. The levels of governing differ enough from each other that a unifying reason for low voter participation might be elusive by way of comparison. Whatever the causes, habitual voter apathy has led to such disinterest that a disturbing proportion of citizenry is becoming politically illiterate, gormlessly blaming government for all its problems but, at the same time, figuring no additional problems will be inflicted by not bothering to vote. More curious is the fact that over 80% of us live in municipalities of one sort or another, that municipal government policy has a bigger and more frequent direct influence over our daily lives than the provincial or federal levels—you’d figure the incentive to vote would be higher than it appears to be.

    Municipal governments are the subservient creation of provincial sovereignty, the extent of their jurisdictions set—or upset—at its pleasure; the subjects of their bylaws are proscribed, most characteristically by the prohibition against running budgetary deficits. They are, nevertheless, responsible governments authorized to levy taxes, fees and fines by virtue of popularly electing their citizens’ representatives to city councils. To what degree, if any, does this basic characteristic of limitation legitimize the use of online voting which more and more municipalities are considering?

    Ostensibly employed to save money, a favourite claim of online-voting proponents, its use for BC provincial elections was convincingly condemned by the BC Chief Electoral Officer in a report addressing Christy’s ruminations about getting more people to vote, especially young people. The report concisely examines online voting (as distinct from electronic or machine-marked and/or counted ballots) wherever it has been used by sovereign governments—that is, not by municipalities, school boards or trusts, etc.—around the world; it concludes there is no good reason to switch from our tried and true system of in-person-registration, hand-marked, hand-counted and scrutinized paper ballots for anything inferior—except, perhaps, to cheat; it goes on to deftly refute each and every argument for online voting in detail. Of particular interest is the finding that increased turnout did not result anywhere, nor for any age-group by introducing online voting. I can understand how typically cumbersome municipal ballots which can list dozens of candidates and a variety of offices might argue for electronic convenience; however, any system so fraught with veracity problems as online voting should, in my view, never be employed.

    I will, along with my neighbours, be marking a number of (paper) ballots, including one for Comox Valley Regional District Director and another for Islands Trustee. I still can’t believe how many otherwise educated people think the Islands Trust is a government, some because enabling legislation includes the “Local Government Act”, and some because we elect our trustees, neither premise making it true. To be clear, the Islands Trust is not responsible to its electors, but, rather, to its special mandate (it get its mandate from legislation, not from the electors); it cannot therefore levy taxes or fines (which is done by the CVRD on its behalf); Trustees do not represent the electors’ wishes to a legislating body, but, rather, they represent the Islands Trust to island communities—the other way around from responsible government.
    Seems a trifling point— until the Trust tries to exercise powers it doesn’t have, which has been known to happen on occasion.


  11. Laila how many residents of Surrey are legal voters? You must be a “CANADIAN CITIZEN” to cast a vote. Low percentages may be a result of our immigration policies not requiring citizenship to so many residents. I will be at the poles on election day and I wonder how many voters are citizens of other countries trying to control local governments? Perhaps this is a topic worth investigating? In theory with our current method of qualifying voters ballot boxes could easily be stuffed and elections rigged. “That wouldn’t happen here”


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