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:
- 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.
- 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
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!
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.