SURREY – As I already wrote here as part of my reports from The City of Surrey Town Hall meetings all our communities are facing themselves with different issues and this series of six Town Halls was the perfect chance to the elected officials to conduct direct conversation with citizens, community activists and those interested in all City issues. In the past we saw that citizens of Newton and Guildford put their focus on issues of crime, community and sport facilities, transportation, Kinder Morgan pipeline extension, illegal suits, and ward electoral system. On the fifth out of six halls, the one facilitated at Central City Library, we saw some totally different issues as focal points and what’s more important people are openly calling on the City, Mayor and Council to transform this program to permanent feature. Councillors Rasode, Hunt, Hayne joined by Planning General Manager Jean Lamontagne, Engineering General Manager Vince Lalonde and RCMP representative openly discussed all issues, as I saw tonight they really shed the light on some apparently unknown activities by the City and partners.
Eternal question of bad landlords and their neglect towards tenants emerged at the start of this town hall meeting. It is almost a same as it was on Guildford one people are just outraged with landlord attitude, not obeying laws and bylaws calling upon city officials to take immediate strong action to prevent future problems. From City we heard that they’re working on the bylaw enforcement, followed by communication and coordinated action with other levels of government which are sometimes crucial elements in governing housing projects.
To the citizens of the Central City area very important concern is South Perimeter Road (SPR), trucking in the area and ways how to deal with them. SPR is long term issue which is entirely in the hands of the province and the City of Surrey is faced with many problems, but as Councillors present at the meeting said clearly City is working hard to find better ways to free streets of the truck and also to address tolling issues. According to Engineering GM, Lalonde, municipal administration is advocating provincial wide tolling and different models of tolls collection. This was part of the answer on question which came from very active community member Grant Rice who was interested to know what’s the province plan on tolling new Port Mann Bridge.
Several people had questions regarding rezoning, development and funds which are coming from developers intended to add more access roads, sidewalks or other much needed facilitations in our communities. Amount of time needed to get that money into the process of implementation and giving final product to the citizens depends on various facts, but mostly according to GM Lalonde time frame for those is pretty unpredictable and the City often faces itself with problem either to wait on developers to finish the project and gave money to the City or to use City funds to accomplish projects before that time. He confidently said the City of Surrey is committed to do whatever is needed, to help and to prevent future problems.
Transit, transit, transit. Eternal Surrey question, and whenever people are faced with elected officials public transit emerges as the biggest problem. Unsolvable enigma for the City and the province, usually in these situation Cllr Marvin Hunt will spent most of the time addressing all questions or concerns. On his fortune this time he had a lot of help from GM Lalonde who spent the most of the evening standing and passionately answering inquiries. King George Blvd is not transit, community or business friendly area, posses established facilities for great public transit network but it is neglected, almost always victim due to lack of funding in Translink budget, and citizens of the Central City area are requesting that to be changed in the future. Suddenly during discussion on these issues we learned that several lines are almost unneeded and because of them some probably much needed lines are impossible to be put in full function. That brought interesting revelation from Councillor Hunt that City already discovered several of these, brought them to the Translink attention what force them to wake up and work on resolution of the same. He called this micro issues or pieces of puzzle which must to be delivered to the City which will forward the same to the Translik asking for better planning and use of our resources.
Beside these issues citizens also discussed illegal suits, some use of pesticides and front door issues. We didn’t hear anything new on these except Council’s strong devotion to work and tackle all of them as soon as possible and in least cost to the taxpayers fashion. One young Surrey citizen asked Councillors and GM’s why they’re avoiding to focus on development of North Surrey area better known as Bridgeview. Jean Lamontagne, Planning GM, said Bridgeview will be soon in the focus of city administration. They’re currently finalizing plans for Central City area, following plans will be developed for Guildford area and then Bridgeview will get chance for new development better plans and new facilities. “We don’t want to rush with anything”, said Lamontagne adding that he acknowledges citizens frustration but their money and needs are very important to the administration.
Some citizens in the room and on the Twitter asked why Mayor Dianne Watts was not present at the Town Hall, as I learned during the meeting she was dealing with an unfortunate problem which prevent her from being there, but she’s expected to be present at the last Hall in Fleetwood area and virtual one in June. Last Town Hall meeting will be held tonight at Fleetwood Recreation Centre.