**updated: Why not much will ever really change in the oligarchy of Surrey…until the council does

Its amazing what a difference a few weeks and a lack of press coverage makes when it comes to making hard decisions that will permanently impact an entire neighbourhood in Surrey.

Just weeks ago, parents and residents in West Panorama/Sullivan were celebrating a short lived victory after council voted to send a contentious proposal to build 181-townhomes and 106-apartments development at 5750 Panorama Drive in South Newton, back to the planning department.  http://www.peacearchnews.com/news/384740151.html?mobile=true

At the heart of the issue is the continuing lack of space in local schools, combined with the never ending amendments to both the official community plan and neighbourhood concept plans, that result in more townhomes being built than those same schools can handle.

And it clearly, never stops, despite the fact that there is no new land for a new highschool either. Fields needed for fitness and games, are being eaten up by portables. The city continues to point the finger at the province  and refuses to acknowledge their lack of foresight in planning.

Last night, that lack of foresight and continued preference to rampant development was displayed again as council put a motion on the table to approve the development in the middle of summer when most people who were opposed, were on vacation,taking care of kids out of school or otherwise occupied.

There was no  direct notice to the hundreds of neighbours impacted that this was going to occur and local resident Cindy Dalglish did not receive advance notice either. In fact several emails to the planning department and a councillor, left questions unanswered repeatedly.

Cindy was stunned last night, stunned that after council represented to the attending public big concerns for where the kids will go to school from this development ( keep in mind there are hundreds more units planned for this area as we speak) they would pass it just weeks later in such a stealthy manner. And other residents felt the same way. One I know called their realtor this morning to list, knowing school is going to be an overcrowded nightmare here for years – even the local highschool is vastly overcrowded as well.

And sadly, this isn’t anything new for Surrey. Put on a big show of concern to keep the subjects happy and quiet, then ram the thing through during summer. How anyone on that council can hold their head high after this is beyond me. Does it really even bother you anymore? That you are elected to represent not just the best interests of the city, but the best interests of each community within it? And this is how you do that?

Now, this move bodes ill for the MLA in this riding, Marvin Hunt for two reasons.

He was both the MLA and a sitting Surrey councillor when the government put this ‘surplus’ property up for sale. He said and did nothing to stand up for this riding, nor did he oppose the sale. On this deal, he was in a clear conflict between his duties as a councillor and his governments actions as an MLA. He even went to say it wasn’t a city issue, but a school district issue ( yes Marvin, pass that buck and point the finger again).This is a Liberal riding. And the Liberal voters here, parents, grandparents etc, are really upset. They are not impressed with his silence. They know his record. And his governments record of playing games with education funding.

( I expect to see more dollars tossed to this riding to try and troll some votes)

Surrey council has effectively lost thousands of votes in this high density area as well, and will continue to lose more with every development approved knowing full well there is no land for a school either. In fact the Panorama property was one of the last big blocks left. Great location for a high school in fact and not one member of council spoke out and advocated for this land when it was put up for sale, nor did anyone on the school district.

At some point, the fingers need to stop pointing at anyone but themselves. The community plans have been altered so badly, it’s simply created high density without vital infrastructure. Already talks of how badly a new hospital annex or health care facility is needed here as Surrey and Peace Arch still have patients in hallways.

Why do I refer to Surrey as an oligarchy? Because the definition of the words fits so damn well: “oligarchy:  small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution.”

With every seat on council occupied by Surrey First, a single slate where members are selected to run in a process that is interesting to say the least.  Even the two councillors many Surrey-ites think of as progressive , have at times remained silent just at the times strong voices are needed most.  Which makes one wonder exactly how independent this coalition really is…

Just another day in the oligarchy of Surrey, where developers rule the roost and progressive politics are still nothing but a dream. If there is one thing I sincerely hope the good people of Surrey realise, it is that electing a single slate council with not one bit of opposition in place, is a terrible,terrible idea.

*** To my wonderful Surrey peeps. Don’t give up.Don’t lose the faith as much as you feel the cynicism right now seeping through you. Come together and run your own slate in the next election.There are so many quality candidates in South Newton already doing what you would be doing as a councillor,but with vision and thought and progressive ideas.

Be the change you want to see. No matter where I am, I will always be here to share your voice  and give it a wider platform. We all appreciate what you do. Share your passion and advocacy with the entire city, and make it the Surrey you know it can be.

***UPDATE: This letter was forwarded to me, and sent to all of council by Cindy Dalglish( mentioned above) who has been a long time advocate for South Newton schools,parents and children. I think it deserves a wider audience.

“To say last night brings disappointment is an understatement. This is a prime example of how this community cannot trust that their voices matter. That they are cared for. That they were heard. You have let down a large number of voting residents that made it clear this proposal does not meet the needs of this community due to lacking infrastructures.


It is clear from the actions and questions/comments last night that you either don’t understand what it is you are responsible for and the magnitude of a development of this size, or that you simply do not care about the children in this community. What is the purpose of your process? This should have been a no-brainer for you to stop in its tracks when you were told time and time again the schools were not there to support the numbers. Sure, there is some flexibility for the elementary school addition but it still doesn’t account for this development, as noted by Emily Watson. But you never once asked about the impact to the remainder of the schools, especially the high school. WE HAVE NO ROOM. The information you were provided, if you actually looked at it, describes quite perfectly there is no room. And I quote from Emily last night “This isn’t the only development, as you are aware, in the South Newton area… enrollment pressures are already there… The remainder of our commentary we have already provided through staff in terms of how over-capacity the schools are and what we are asking for in our capital plan moving forward.” And once again, you ignored the District even after you asked for their input.


Then, what about the congestion at the intersection of Highway 10 and 152nd? When you ask your staff if that has been addressed… they give you a simple “yes, it was addressed.” Somehow that was satisfactory to you? How was it addressed? Do you not ask your staff to provide rationale? How can you be making proper decisions if you don’t have the understanding of what you are speaking to?


I also want to speak to the timing. It’s clear to this community that you did not do due diligence with the motion and used the timing of the year to allow this development to slide through. Literally, you were given all the information you had already been given previously and still did not address the motion. A lot of smoke and mirrors that aren’t going unnoticed by the residents in South Newton. When I asked for clarification as to what would be happening and when, I kept getting non-responses until I finally reached Keith Broersma on the phone yesterday late morning. It was then that I was informed it was going in front of the Council at the Land Use meeting. Where was the communication? My community can’t help but notice that you appeared concerned when media was watching but last night nobody was watching. In my emails to Judy Villeneuve and the City Clerk and Keith Broersma, we asked how we can be part of the process. We did not ever receive a response on this.


Gill, you were quoted as saying in The Now Newspaper June 28th “We’re all on the same page, we all have a common goal and I’m hopeful we can get a resolution that’s going to satisfy everybody in the community.” We, the community, are not satisfied nor are we on the same page. Not even a little bit.


Villeneuve, you were quoted as saying (same paper and date) “… not prepared to support the land use last night with the issues in the community.” Yet, you voted this through without any change? The issues haven’t changed.

I’m stunned at your decision, the actions in the past many weeks, and of the lack of leadership from each of you in allowing this to happen. Any trust we were starting to build with this Council is all but wiped away. I would love to have a better understanding of how you feel you care for the children of our community.




Cindy Dalglish


14 Comments on “**updated: Why not much will ever really change in the oligarchy of Surrey…until the council does

  1. Reblogged this on North Van City Voices and commented:
    Pertaining to Surrey, but oh so familiar to City of North Van residents … quoting: Why do I refer to Surrey as an oligarchy? Because the definition of the words fits so damn well: “oligarchy: small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution.”

  2. Possibly this is an example of how things have to get worse before they will get better. A crisis may motivate voters to stand up together and do something about our incompetent governments both local and provincial. Voters and their votes are the only power we have for positive change.

  3. When we folks rise up and storm City Halls everywhere and the Legislature. It is bloody high time the temporary asses the occupy public office turn their 100% attention to the citizens who can quite easily remove them. And stop licking the boots of heavy pocket donors with corporate interests.
    Enough is enough.

  4. Why am I in shock? Trusted that we were heard but found out it was all a farce! Can’t help bit wonder how much developers are lining the pockets of politicians and/or their political machines. Agree that we need to kick those bums out both federally and provincially. They have no brains, no heart or both. Our kids deserve better leaders, and what is happening to them in Surrey is unfair. Canada is suppose to be a progressive, caring and forward thinking nation. Unbelievable and disappointing. Hope more people get involved in the upcoming elections.

  5. This is the new normal; politicians, developers and realtors, running roughshod over people, towns and cities.

    We have the same nonsense going on here in our little town by the sea. A town that has thrived on it’s clean quaintness, seaside character and history.

    Development is run amok. We have a council elected on a go slow agenda now steam rolling densification. We have an Official Community Plan, oh, wait, I think they now call it a “strategic plan.” Can’t really call it a community plan when the community is destroyed, can you. Cute.

    Anyway, the power brokers have a neat little game they play that must have been picked up from the Gregor himself. It is to feign public consultation. It is also to go on about official plans and dealing with developers case by case. Then they allow amendments and variances case by case. In every case.

    Now they are fighting with a neighboring community over mall developments within a stone’s throw of each other. Our mayor and council contradicts his position and acts like a child; “It was my idea first!”

    They are determined to change our little Carmel into Campbell River with malls that kill the long time locals.

    Sad part is they can have it all their way for long enough to get it “past the point of no return.” Then, like the housing situation, with an aw gee, we didn’t know, will be shocked at the soon to come major pushback. The revolution is gaining some traction.

  6. the first order of business for any government is to stay in power every thing else is secondary. That includes the voters and their children.

    If anyone in Surrey thought the council was listening they ought to stop smoking B.C. bud. They don’t listen and they don’t care about you or your kids. If you think they do, you’re only fooling yourselves. The big difference now is they just used to ignore the needs of those who were poor and disenfranchised. Now you the middle class are considered poor compared to the millionaires and developers, so you too will be disenfranchised. .

    given the rate at which our population grows this province ought to stop selling any public land. we will need it in the next 50 years. It was similar when the B.C. Lieberals sold all government owned land and then had to buy back land for schools in the Coquitlam area. How very wonderful. Just like in Surrey, sell public land to some and then buy it back. Gee they used to have a name for that type of activity. This keeps happening over and over in B.C. yet voters continue to re-elect these people.

    Note to the people in this riding: don’t wait for the election, start your recall petition now and send a message to the Premier. Linda doesn’t care, she has her well paid job. Check to see how much the developer gave to council members…….

  7. It is always quite humorous, the reaction elected officials have in the face of criticism.
    Mayor Hepner response to Cindy Dalglish ask, “Do you care about our kids?” hit the nail on the head.
    Most people, most of the time would of course say they do care and point to demonstrations of that caring. In Mayor Hepner case, she chose to reply that was “an unfair question”.
    The simple fact is, it remains the only question worth asking. DO YOU CARE ABOUT OUR KIDS Mayor Hepner?
    SURREY FIRST continues with its Rampant Development agenda. With the sweep on Council now complete, long time Councilors who should know better, are now drinking the same Kool-Aid with reckless abandon.
    The SURREY FIRST dominated school board mimics the same antics elected officials portray every day.
    If The Future Lives Here, why is the City of Surrey the enduing butt of jokes in the lower mainland? How much worse does it have to get before ‘we hit rock bottom?’
    I remain confident in the citizens of Surrey. Change will come and common sense and honesty will prevail.
    As for our elected officials, please don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

  8. Greed is good.
    Avarice rules.
    The rich get richer.
    Why? Because we let them. Because we keep believing the lies they tell us. Because a smiling fool won an upset in the last provincial election and is setting new low standards for municipal politicians to follow: tell any story, make any promise, pay whatever it takes to get elected, then rule like the public doesn’t matter.

    Don’t lose hope? Sorry, when the politicians we elect care so little for the people who elected them, and so obviously make decisions to benefit the few over the many, I have lost hope. The same people keep getti g elected, so obviously the electorate is stupid, or they have determined the benefits of being controlled by these people outweigh any negatives.

    When the House of Cards finally collapses, maybe some of us will realize things should change. Until then, we’ll get what they deign to give us.

  9. Politicians dont care about anyone but themselves.. .
    Cant you recall a municipal “shirker”?

  10. It is the same with every municipality in the lower mainland, municipal councils are owned by land developers and speculators.

    We no longer live in a democracy, rather an oligarchy, where show case elections are held every 4 years. When civic elections were held every 2 years, at least the taxpayer had a tool, his/hers only tool to be heard and it was the vote. With elections every 2 years, politicians had to listen to the public, but not now, in fact they don’t care because with elections every 4 years, the public forgets past misdeeds.

    As well it is cheaper or land speculators and developers to “buy” politicians with elections every 4 years, as all the whining about elections every 2 years mainly came from them and their good friends the mains stream media.

    So, unless we go back to biannual elections at the civic level, kiss democracy good bye and accept the Canadian standard for corrupt politicians, who on their masters orders (corporations, developers and land speculators, China, etc.) do as they are paid to do, work for their masters interests.

    Democracy? We haven’t had true democracy in this country for a generation and the result, we elected charlatans, grifters, and just plain corrupt politicians to office.

  11. Upp, evil eye pretty much said it all. many of these politicians, in my opinion, are corrupt. You can not do things as a politician which does not benefit the children and voters of your area and still be uncorrupted. One does have to ask, why does Linda Heppner do what she does? Why did council sell this land when anyone with a brain in their heads knew Surrey would grow at an exceptional rate, they even bragged it would? I think it reasonable to conclude either some one was promised something or some one is extremely stupid. No one benefits from this new development except the developer. The buyers won’t have a place to send their children to school or is the jevederm queen going to suggest they establish even more private schools?

    with all the growth and all the changes, surrey is still the butt of jokes. obviously the politicians in Surrey give us lots of material to work with,

    Off topic.: just read over at rossK the federal Liberal government has “green Lighted’ the site c dam permits. already sent my letter expressing my disgust with the decision. It would be good if someone started a change.org petition against it going further. I’m too old and tired.

  12. God I hope this teenagers-in-charge-of-the-shopping-mall era comes to an end sometime soon.

  13. Pingback: Three big problems in Surrey for Election 2017:Promises, Planning & Pandering. – Laila Yuile on people, politics and life in B.C.