Three big problems in Surrey for Election 2017:Promises, Planning & Pandering.

It was July 26th when I sat down to pen a post on why nothing will ever change in the city of Surrey,until the council does.Why? Because it’s an oligarchy: “a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution.” Oh sure they like to pretend its all democratic since they were elected after all, yet once those seats are filled it’s a free for all development extravaganza and woe is the neighbourhood one of their developer donors sets eyes on…

Sullivan residents found that out the hard way after the government foolishly sold a ‘surplus’ property in one of the fastest growing high density residential neighbourhoods in Surrey…which also happens to be one with overcrowded schools. When the neighbourhood protested vigorously & started talking about voting out Liberal MLA Marvin Hunt, it was amazing how fast Victoria found some spare cash and fast-tracked a school addition low on the list in Surrey, ahead of others with greater priority to sweeten the pot and help the developer build his case.

Shortly after, under cover of summer vacation when most were gone, aided by not one notice, the development application council had been so concerned about weeks before, was approved. Mayor Hepner and council cry ” But we can’t stop development, all those poor people needing affordable housing!” when criticized and point fingers at the province for not keeping up hospitals, daycare, schools etc.

And the same story happens all over the city, again and again and again. The cities own zonings are amended. The number of units allowed per acre are amended. The number of trees that can be cut are amended. With so many amendments, it’s no wonder the city is becoming an overcrowded mess when it comes to not only schools, but clinics and the two hospitals serving the region as well.

But there’s an election coming and sensing an opportunity to score new seats in Surrey – a key power arena when it comes to politics – John Horgan calls a press conference in Surrey and announces if elected, the NDP will eradicate all portables in Surrey within 4 years, and change the funding formula that determines where and when schools are built.

To say my jaw dropped when I saw that promise is an understatement. Not the part about changing the funding formula- that’s a given – but promising to eradicate portables in Surrey in four years? It’s as if Horgan totally forgot about the rubber stamp attitude of council that has helped create this problem in the first place and will continue to do so because they refuse to pace or moderate development of any kind.

And it’s almost as if he forgot what happened when the Liberals dropped all that money into Surrey to calm outraged parents: parent in other districts who had been waiting longer and with higher needs for school facilities, became more outraged and the Liberals were forced into dropping rolls of cash into other districts where their MLA’s would most certainly be ousted if the money didn’t show up.

There isn’t a district in the province that doesn’t have portables and some districts have more than Surrey. Horgan has now put himself in the corner as far as this issue goes talking about how hard it is to learn in portables. Will he replace all portables in all districts in 4 years? Or is Surrey special because they want more seats here? And why are portables taking a bigger priority than classroom needs like educational assistants, librarians,supplies and resources?

Surrey was my home for nearly 13 years. I know it well, know the budgets, the council and how it all works. Social issues have been growing in the city and it’s no longer possible to sweep it under the rug and pretend it’s not happening. Kids are falling through the cracks in school and more supports are needed, not less. And it’s true that government under-funding shows here perhaps more than in other areas but not just in overcrowding. We even  had  instruction days cut, and minutes taken off remaining days in order for the district to meet its budget- Chilliwack had to do the same.

And suddenly portables are the big issue requiring a press conference? ( I wonder where that Surrey Accord went?)
While I would be very happy to see some new MLA’s in Surrey – Marvin Hunt needs to go- I’ve advocated long enough for Surrey residents to know I couldn’t let this go without comment – promising to eradicate portables in four years is as unlikely as Hepners ridiculous campaign promise to have LRT on the ground running in 2018.

See any shovels yet my friends? None except those shovelling the piles of promises Surrey residents have seen over the years from politicians out the back door where all the other broken ones go.

Two stories today in Surrey are the reason why it will be impossible to eradicate portables:

  1. Neighbours in shock as trees clearcut ( again) – A 57-unit townhouse development is planned for the site, at 15005 36th Ave., and the property was rezoned from general agricultural to comprehensive development.The application also required an amendment to the West Rosemary Heights Neighbourhood Community Plan to adjust the boundaries of the existing cluster housing and preservation/open space area designations to reflect the development footprint.
  2. Silence again over jam packed schools as yet another massive development in grossly overcrowded Clayton approved –

    Laurae McNally says she is “gobsmacked” at news of yet another development application in Clayton, a community where schools are already bursting at the seams.“There is a huge disconnect between Surrey city hall approving everything under the sun and the provincial government not approving anything,” said the Surrey school trustee. “That’s the reality. It’s wrong. It’s really wrong.”If approved, the 16-acre project would see 14 properties turned into 131 single-family lots in the 18200- to 18400-block of 73rd Avenue.

    A public hearing is scheduled for Sept. 12 at Surrey City Hall.

” … a huge disconnect between Surrey city hall approving everything under the and the provincial government not approving anything…” 

It’s bad enough the current government only trots out money and passes it out like candy at election time when they need your vote, it’s equally bad that the NDP would make a promise that council will without question,make impossible to keep.

History has already shown in Surrey that even when new schools are approved,by the time they are open councils never-ending approvals and amendments to neighbourhood plans ensures they open with portables- they are too small before they even have a chance to open. It’s so messed up here and  there isn’t a single council member who will admit how badly they’ve messed it up.

So the NDP comes in, approves a bunch of  school projects… and while the schools and additions are being built council  will have  amended NCP’s and approved hundreds of new homes… Good luck with that.

These are the building permits issued for July 2016 that also show the permits for residential issued in 2016 to date:  1,257 permits for 2,407 dwellings.That doesn’t include illegal suites or mutiple families living in homes so you can guess how many kids that number of dwellings might hold

buildssurrey2016

This link, is to the development applications in process right now in Surrey. It’s 26 pages. http://www.surrey.ca/files/DP-IN-PROCESS.pdf   In the first 5 pages alone, there are applications for 528  townhome units ( those numbers usually increase as developers ask to increase the units per acre allowed) and 4 apartment buildings!

city council
” The First in Surrey First refers to development “

I just hate seeing voters so disrespected and in Surrey it’s just the way it is. Change is desperately needed at the provincial level for sure, and not just with respect to how poorly education has been funded – the justice system, social services and mental health have all been ignored in Surrey as well, only responded to when the city hits yet another crisis.  ( and where did that Surrey Accord go?)

But that doesn’t mean you should accept half-baked promises from anyone before an election, regardless of who is making them. No one can control city council in this city except city council themselves and they have clearly stated they have no intention of slowing down this unsustainable growth.It’s not their problem, remember, it’s the provinces…

Its time for all politicians to up their games and respect the voters who’ve been played enough in Surrey and time for Surrey residents to question everything and anything they  are promised-ask candidates how they plan to achieve that when they have no control over municipal politicians whatsoever.

Because change never starts with more of the same. It begins and ends with your vote.Too many political parties assume these votes are theirs for the taking. It’s time you make them earn it.

 

 

 

10 thoughts on “Three big problems in Surrey for Election 2017:Promises, Planning & Pandering.

  1. Evil Eye

    When one talks density, it is a charade to hide massive profits made by developers for up=zoning properties. Civic political donations are an out and out bribe for politicians. Civic politics are completely rotten to the core and i do not see a light on the horizon to fix it.

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  2. e.a.f.

    the land which was re zoned from agriculture, was it in the ALR? If so, how did it get taken out? A new government could put the boots to hepner simply by refusing to allow land to be taken out of the ALR for housing.

    that new housing isn’t affordable. those moving in, if interest rates go up 2%, they will all be declaring bankruptcy. This is not going to be pretty, but hey, the people of Surrey voted Hepner into office, just like they did Watts. Did anyone expect anything to be different. With that much juvederm in their faces, I’d think their brains might be effected.

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  3. Niovi Patsicakis

    I expect when the NDP is in power they will do what they have said, which is fund public education and make sure that development does not exceed infrastructure. I am sure there are ways to halt municipalities and school boards from screwing things up but I am not an expert. Perhaps, we will find out soon, and it’s good point you raise. I expect to see a budget when election time comes around and a progressive platform based on sound economic principles. There is no point in making that outline now and have the Liberals steel or misrepresent their ideas. (They have the bucks to spin whatever he says and turn it against him. Above all I expect John will be the most trustworthy, likeable premier BC has ever seen.) He is “regular” folk and is not running for power, glory or money. At least that is not what I gather when I speak with him. He needs to be where issues arise, and speak his mind and let the voters know who he is and what he stands for. I understand that the job of media is to scrutinize and raise the bar. I don’t think he is in Surrey – just for a “photo” op. It takes a lot of courage to keep going despite harsh criticism but I think John has to and can do it, cause he is a decent, moral politician who cares about the people of BC- He is the best alternative and must defeat Christy Clark.

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  4. Mosko

    Surrey, effectively has no council. What they have is a group of trained simians who nod accordingly, sometimes ask a question to put on a show, but otherwise throw poop at the electorate.

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  5. City never bothered to show up at parent meeting advocating for education neither did Surrey Trustees. Portables must go because a) they are unhealthy physically, socially, emotionally, b)they deny access to programs in the school such as gym music etc because when you cram in the kids there aren’t enough blocks to get those subjects in for everybody let alone enough specialist teachers to service special needs students. Heck, kids have to take turns playing on the playground. Now you try to explain to a 6 year old why she/he can’t go on the swing today but wait until tomorrow. City and trustees were suppose to work together to come up with a solution to the overcrowding problem, yet city proposed a P3 solution, ie. schools to be built by developers for profit. NO, NO we do not want private corps building our schools and draining gov from even more money with cost overruns, yet get a load of this school board had no clue this was going to be asked and were quick to express their non support for the idea. Committee my foot. There seems to be no communication between the 2. A parent was told by the mayor that over one hundred townhouses would only yield 9 school children. Hello?

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    1. Laila Yuile

      I agree about portables but I also think portables are the least of all worries when it comes to education in BC.If someone promises to get rid of portables in Surrey, they better darn well get rid of them all over BC… and we know that will never happen. Portables have been used all over BC since I was in school.

      The NDP are bang on about education underfunding. Its chronic and the funding formula does not work for Surrey. But to focus solely on Surrey and focus on portables is a big mistake when many other critical items are going unfunded in classrooms that most parents find more pressing.

      The city holds the sole responsibility and culpability for ruining any and all semblance of planning in the city with so many ruined NCP’s and OCP’s, endless amendments and overbuilding in areas not served by any infrastructure. Then they point the finger at the province to fix what they created. Its been going on for years but Surrey residents seem to be happy and keep voting for them.

      As I see it, two seperate issues here entirely. And the NDP may find themselves in between a rock and a hard place by focusing on portables in Surrey. Parents in other districts are already choked about that.

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